Mild spoilers for The Walking Dead are below.
From its opening scenes, The Walking Dead has shown viewers that the world is full of threats, and that survival is a lot easier when one can kill walkers (as well as villainous people) from a distance, say with a firearm. Time is not on Rick & Co.’s side, and one of the ways it will hurt the most is taking them to the point where guns and bullets are extremely rare and valuable. And that game-changing shift will apparently happen sometime soon on the AMC drama.
This reveal isn’t coming from showrunner Scott Gimple or creator Robert Kirkman, but rather the show’s property master and weapons expert, John Sanders. Here’s what he had to say.
As the story continues, we’re going to see a lot more transfer to more melee weapons. Bullets are a finite instrument ... and we need to make sure that each character can only use so many and that they’re thinking about it…You’ve got to start to regulate how many and when you use [guns]. You see the characters talk about needing to preserve ammo a number of times. So we start looking at the new weapons, which — you know we’ve seen the katana before, the stick from Morgan’s character and we constantly get into the knife thing.
It’s a major change that has been handled gradually over the past few seasons, with many characters keeping a secondary weapon to complement the guns. (Rick’s hatchet is a comic favorite that will hopefully stick with the elder Grimes on the show.) As well, guns draw attention from anything within hearing distance, so the characters have gotten used to stabbing heads and other means of putting walkers down without bullets; there’s no better example of that than Carol and Maggie’s work on the most recent episode. But it’s when hordes and intelligent human threats come into it that the guns appear to be the only viable option, so a mental shift to caching weapons and ammo will be a smart one, considering who’s coming.
In the comics, the eventual scarcity of weapons is handled quite well and strategically. Some people appear to have many weapons while barely having any. Some people are so desperate for more protection that they’ll do anything. And some understand the situation and attempt to rectify it with research and development. It’s likely that all three scenarios will be introduced in the TV series, so there’s no need to go into specifics. Needless to say, guns and bullets are huge commodities moving forward, and it’s a rather exciting prospect for Sanders to have shared with Tech Insider.
It always does seem pretty weird when these characters bring machine guns out to handle small handfuls of walkers, and it’s great that this aspect will get phased out of the show, upping the stakes when the survivors start to get outnumbered. I like to think that maybe the Mythbusters crew is still alive somewhere in this universe, and they’ll help Rick’s group develop deadly weapons without the need for guns and bullets.
And now we can begin talking about whether the world will run out of bullets before or after Daryl runs out of arrows for his crossbow, assuming he gets it back. The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC.