AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead is the target of a lawsuit because of its season 2 story arc.
According to Dead Ahead author Mel Smith, Fear the Walking Dead has infringed on content of her book.The official filed complaint states,
“Within the last three years, defendants, and each of them, infringed plaintiff’s copyright in DEAD AHEAD by, among other things, broadcasting or otherwise exploiting the second season of FEAR THE WALKING DEAD. Portions of that season’s 13 episodes were copied from plaintiff’s copyrighted literary work DEAD AHEAD.”
The basis of the suit, however, goes all the way back to season 2, when Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and her family were forced to leave Los Angeles as the military bombed the city in order to try and contain the zombie outbreak. Setting sail aboard The Abigail, the show took us into uncharted territory by taking the action onto the high seas. It was an original spin on the familiar Walking Dead formula. According to the THR, however, it might not be as original as it seemed. Author Mel Smith alleges that the show stole the concept from his own zombie comic, Dead Ahead, whose synopsis reads:
“What had started as a fun little fishing trip soon turns into a nightmare of damnation, trapped on a floating prison. The continents have been hit by a zombie outbreak that spread fast, turning humanity into living corpses, leaving those at sea alive to fend for themselves. With provisions running low, hope comes on the horizon in the form of a luxury liner. All they needed to survive would be on the ship, but who among the fishermen will dare to board the liner and discover what’s become of its passengers and crew?”
She is alleging this has to do with the season 2 arc of Fear, when the group took refuge at the Ocean and confronted with swimming walkers. The plotline only lasted for a brief period before the crew found dryer land.
The network and their franchise are no strangers to lawsuits. They have had The Walking Dead developer and former showrunner, Frank Darabont, file and pursue a $280 million profit participation action over the last five years. Although the flagship show has recently seen a rapid decline in the ratings, with the companion series never being so successful, the franchise still remains to be a big deal, especially as far as AMC are concerned. They recently renewed the zombie drama for season 9.
It is uncertain whether Fear The Walking Dead will have a fifth season, but fans remain hopeful. The show has gone from good to better, on Rotten Tomatoes, it just recently hit an all-time high of 86% for season 4 and its episode average remaining steady on 85%, which is much higher than that of its parent show. Fans were even more pleased as the show connected more overtly to the world of Rick Grimes and his band of survivors, with the fan-favorite character of Morgan (Lennie James) switching ships, thus bringing the timeline of both shows more or less in-sync with each other.
According to the complaint filed by Smith, David Alpert was Smith’s agent at the time of Dead Ahead’s publication. What’s more, Alpert also served as the business manager and business partner of Robert Kirkman, the creator of the comic book series that The Walking Dead is adapted from. Alpert is currently an executive producer on Fear The Walking Dead and will be a co-defendant in the case while still facing an added claim that he breached fiduciary duty. AMC has not commented on the issue and it is still unclear whether this will affect the chances of the show’s renewal.
Shannon Toohey is Editor-In-Chief of FanFest.com. She graduated from Hofstra University in 2015 with a B.A. in Journalism from the Lawrence Herbert School of Communications. Shannon has been a proud member of the Fan Fest team since 2013. Tweet her in your prettiest bird voice: @shannontoo