Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Walking Dead Spinoff Just Landed A Grey's Anatomy Vet As First New Cast Member

The first third of 2022 has been quite eventful for the Walking Dead franchise, when it comes to not only the soon-to-conclude flagship series, but also its various spinoff projects. As a counter the unfortunate news that Melissa McBride had to drop out of the previously announced Carol and Daryl spinoff — hereby referred to as just “the Daryl spinoff” — the newest member of the Walking Dead universe was revealed. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan’s upcoming Isle of the Dead spinoff has tapped Grey’s Anatomy and God Friended Me vet Gaius Charles as its first wholly original character.

Gaius Charles, who is also well-known within the Friday Night Lights cast as the Dillon Panthers running back Brian “Smash” Williams, is set to take on a role that sounds like it could take the actor out of his usual wheelhouse. Within Isle of the Dead, he’ll portray the character Izaak, who is described by Deadline as being full of confidence and ruthlessness in equal measures. Sounds quite a bit like JDM’s own Negan, and that’s not the only similarity they share. 

Tomas in the studio on Queens

(Image credit: ABC)

Izaak is the kind of person who seeks out his own brand of justice, and has little issue with forcing his and others’ hands to get what he wants. What’s more, he enjoys this way of life, and despite his malicious and terrifying behavior, Izaak has maintained a sense of humor. Will he also think “pee pee pants city” is a winning turn of phrase? Will he be the first character in this world to properly utter the phrase “fuckity fuck fuck” with reckless abandoned? 

Where Izaak has more in common with Maggie than Negan — at least as things currently stand ahead of Negan’s new and pregnant wife Annie — is that he’s a full-on family man, keeping his clan safe by any means necessary. Within the narrative of Isle of the Dead, Izaak will apparently open an old wound tied to a major loss in his life. And it sounds like he might have been responsible for some of the skeletons in his closet, but he’s not someone who shies away from his screw-ups. It’s probably easy not to feel judged where there are fewer and fewer people around to do the judging.

Details are still someone minimal regarding what the overarching story will be for Isle of the Dead, though it’s likely the creative team will need to wait for The Walking Dead to conclude its eleventh and final season before divulging details into the futures of main characters like Negan and Maggie. We know that the setting will flip its setting from the landlocked U.S. to a post-outbreak Manhattan, which is populated by a wealth of survivors and walkers that have been cut off from the mainland for years. 

Already, the spring finale helped to lay the groundwork for bringing Maggie and Negan to a point where anyone would believe they’d go off on a New York City adventure together, presumably with Annie and Hershel in tow (along with whatever other youngins are applicable). We’re in a zone where each of the four characters is at least tolerant of the other three, even though it looked for a hot minute like Hershel would bring some Glenn-flavored justice to Negan earlier in Season 11. (Plus, the hulking former villain could have just called for help from the phone that was sticking out of his pocket in the scene.)

I’m already curious to know whether Gaius Charles’ Izaak will be understanding of why Negan felt the need to use Glenn and Abraham as gory cautionary tales, or if he will side with Maggie in believing that Negan committed the ultimate sin by mauling a husband in front of his wife. Something tells me neither Negan nor Maggie will give a shit what Izaak thinks, but still. 

After starring in Friday Night Lights across its first three seasons, Gaius Charles later landed the marquee role of Dr. Shane Ross in Grey's Anatomy's ninth and tenth seasons, with follow-up parts in shows such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Taken, and Rosewell, New Mexico. (Not to mention two solid turns on Drunk History.) Don't be shocked if you think you've already seen Charles popping up in other 2022 projects, as he appeared in episodes of both ABC's Queens and The Wonder Years, and also starred in KeKe Palmer's racially charged feature Alice

It’s kind of a bummer that these Walking Dead spinoffs were revealed so early, since it’s resulted in huge drop-offs in tension when it comes to Negan, Maggie, Daryl and Carol’s stories, since they’re all guaranteed survival through the end. But I guess that also means we won’t go through any attempts at fake-out deaths, such as the one that plagued Steven Yeun’s Glenn back in Season 6. 

The Walking Dead Season 11 will return later this year, at which point we’ll likely hear a little bit more about Isle of the Dead and the rest of the upcoming projects in the Dead franchise

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.