Melissa McBride Clears Up Walking Dead Contract Mystery, Declares: 'I Am a Series Regular'

Walking Dead Melissa McBride Series RegularWednesday’s news that Walking Dead has upgraded a trio of actors to series regular ahead of Season 4 did not go over well with Melissa McBride fans.

Supporters of the actress — who has played Carol since Season 1 — took to TVLine’s comments section to demand that AMC finally do the right thing and make her a regular as well.

There’s just one problem: McBride is, and has been, a regular — a fact she confirmed herself on Twitter Wednesday. Responding to the “awesome outpouring” of support following news of Chad L. Coleman, Sonequa Martin-Green and Emily Kinney’s promotions, McBride maintained, “I currently am a series regular.” She then chalked up questions about her status to, “legalese.”

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The legalese she no doubt refers to also happens to be the source of much of the confusion. Unlike the majority of Walking Dead‘s regulars, McBride’s name is not included in the main title sequence alongside co-stars like Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus. Instead, she’s listed in the secondary credits (aka “Also Starring”) following the first commercial break — a section reserved on most shows for guest stars.

According to sources, the fine print of Walking Dead contracts gives producers (and AMC) the right to include series regulars in either section. To wit, Scott Wilson (Hershel) — who receives the same post-opening credits billing as McBride — is also a series regular.

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What’s not clear is how these decisions are made. For example, why was Danai Gurira — who joined the show as Michonne in Season 3 — given main title billing immediately, while an original castmember like McBride has yet to receive that honor?

One person who (surprisingly) doesn’t have the answer is series creator Robert Kirkman. “There are a lot of executive producers on the show and that’s not my forte,” he tells TVLine. “I don’t even know what the series regular term actually really means when it gets down to it, I’m sorry to admit.”

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87 Comments
  1. J says:

    I sort of figured.

  2. Elyse says:

    glad they cleared that one up. some people had their panties in a bunch over it.

    • tripoli says:

      It doesn’t really clear it up though. Most fans consider her a series regular but are disappointed that she’s not been included in the opening sequence. I think we’d all like to know why she is yet to be included. If Danai Gurira and David Morrissey get the honor right from the start, why not McBride after being a cast member since the first episode? If she doesn’t appear in the opening sequence and the 3 actors that were upped to regulars today do, I will be extremely disappointed. McBride deserves better.

      • Teag says:

        She wasn’t in the first episode. She first appeared in 103.

        • Allan says:

          But Andrea wasn’t in the first episode too… The fact is Carol is in all season…You character is very important…

          • Teag says:

            Rick also wasn’t in Walk With Me… is he not a regular then? In cable shows, sometimes regulars aren’t in every episode.

        • tripoli says:

          A minor mistake. Should have put season 1. Fact still remains she’s been around since the beginning.

      • J says:

        I can understand the bump up to the main credits for the others, given the profile of the new actors/characters, and the negotiation processes with agents that might involve that sort of thing. Carol has quietly grown into a strong character in the background. Perhaps a bump is coming, but I understand how what happened happened.

      • Adam says:

        Who cares whether or not she has billing in the opening sequence or after? Honestly, sometimes I think we nitpick everything to death these days! She’s a series regular, that’s good. Her pay and the amount of episodes she will appear in don’t change based on where her name falls, nor does her safety in continuing on the show as we’ve already seen other series regulars killed off. Why worry about such an incredibly tiny detail?

        • Susan Willingham says:

          Amen, Adam! At last, someone who sees it the way I do! It doesn’t seem to bother her, so why the big fuss over where her name is? Does it make her less of a regular? Does it take away from her performance? NO! Take a chill pill, folks…..

        • Leman says:

          Because being a regular can determine how much you are paid as an actor.

          • Elyse says:

            but she IS a series regular. people are still complaining about where her name is in the opening sequence.

          • Vladdy says:

            Actually, sometimes actors get paid a bonus for NOT having their names in the opening credits. A friend of mine had a very large role in a major film some years ago and got an extra $10,000 in exchange for not having his name at the beginning of the film.

  3. Teag says:

    Obviously she and Wilson are regulars. Considering they were credited for Walk With Me and Clear without actually appearing.

  4. will i was says:

    Forget Melissa McBride & Scott Wilson, the one who really needs to be included in the main title billing is The Governor’s second henchman (who, according to the Walking Dead Wiki is named Shumpert). His arc this past season, from shooting at people/walkers to the emotions he expresses after the Governor kills the rest of the Woodbury Army, is emmy worthy.

  5. Faster says:

    I find it baffling that so many people are upset about this. Are that many of you really paying attention to who is in the credits and when? I have never paid attention to or cared about credits, they just get in the way. That being said, glad to know she is a series regular, but being a series regular won’t keep you from getting killed off.

    • Elyse says:

      I’ve literally never paid attention to the opening sequence before so I always just assumed she was a series regular.

    • jimbo says:

      I never care for these things either, but I did notice in the middle of the third season she was listed in the “Also starring” category. I took it as an indication she might be killed off at some point, maybe it was just wishful thinking… ;)

    • Sg. Grant says:

      I’m surprised that so many people care. I just hit fast forward as soon as the credits start, since there is always a commercial immediately following them.

    • Eric says:

      The thing about it is the tremulous ground that an “Also Starring” cast member stands on. With a show like this, main cast members have a far less chance of dying, and when you have two fan-favorite characters in that category, it doesn’t bode well for their future on the show.

      • Adam says:

        Actually correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t more series regulars die this season than recurring characters???

        • Eric says:

          Main cast members that died: Lori, Andrea, Merle
          Recurring cast members that died: Milton, T-Dog, Axel, Andrew, Tomas, Big Tiny, Oscar, Haley, etc….

          I see what you mean though. The main cast member’s deaths always have a lot more weight in the show.

          • Oliver says:

            Andrew, Tomas, Big Tiny and Oscar were all co-stars. However, the survivor from the helicopter crash was recurring.

  6. Blue says:

    That’s an EXCUSE. I want her IN THE MAIN TITLE SEQUENCE ALONGSIDE WITH NORMAN AND ANDREW because she deserves it and has been there since the FIRST SEASON…

    • Dave says:

      I agree with you, but as long as she doesn’t seem too upset, I don’t think we should be. Now let’s just hope they don’t kill her off. I’ve liked her and her whole character arc.

  7. Kristen says:

    As a regular she should absolutely be in the main credits and I never understood why she wasn’t. She’s the last female standing from the Atlanta group and MMB has been there since the beginning. If that fact alone means anything at all she should be in the main credits.

  8. Paul says:

    A lot of the 80s soaps used to do the same thing. I specifically remember Knots Landing having a laundry list of people that were listed post opening credits.

    • Pedro. says:

      House credited Oliva Wide, Peter Jacobson and Kal Penn as also starring for seasons. Wilde and Jacobson only made it to the credits in season 7. Strangely, as soon as she did, Wild left the show for most of the season.

      Many actors in Deperate Housewives got also starring as well, because the cast was huge.

  9. Allan says:

    Melissa McBride needs to be regular cast (your name needs to be in oppening credits). Carol is more important to Michonne, Maggie, Beth, Sasha and Trsysee… I would be very sadness if she continues without appears in oppening credits…

  10. MDS says:

    Now that Sarah’s and Laurie’s names aren’t going to be in the credits anymore, that should leave place for her name.

    • Teag says:

      And Merle is gone too. That’s where Tyreese, Sasha and Beth is going in the credits.

      • MDS says:

        Didn’t notice Michael’s name in the credits. I think they’re more likely to put Melissa’s name in the credits than Emily’s or Sonequa’s.

    • Chance says:

      It’s going to depend on which characters are going to be most crucial to story. That’s how they decide. While Melissa and Scott are Series Regulars, they were secondary characters in the season arc. Milton was a more central character to this season’s arc and Dallas Roberts was only recurring.

  11. amezgz says:

    even though she has been on longer, danai and david have had more speaking parts in one season then she has had in all 3 combined…shes a non factor character, her and beth .. hopefully she gets more speaking parts because i do like her but since she really isnt in the show as often as the others, she shouldnt get main billing, even though shes been there since day 1

  12. AB says:

    There are many factors regarding billing (aka opening credits): the actor’s agent didn’t negotiate top billing or the agent did ask for it and the studio felt she didn’t have the resume to warrant main titles.

  13. LRI says:

    The main credits are probably reserved for people with major SLs. All she’s had is the Sofia SL and that didnt give her much screen time. I don’t really care, so far Carol hasn’t done much.

  14. Roger More says:

    Weird, I actually only noticed the “also starring Melissa McBride” in the last episode and thought it strange she was being billed as a secondary cast member. I had no idea there was a ‘controversy’ about it among fans though. As long as some people have things like this to worry about rather than zombies breaking down their door, life must be serving them well I suppose.

    • Nina says:

      ” As long as some people have things like this to worry about rather than zombies breaking down their door, life must be serving them well I suppose.”

      well said Roger! XD

  15. Frankieboy says:

    I dont care if she is in the opening title or not… as long as she is a regular and she is in the show then I am happy.

    The development of Carol has been awesome to watch and McBride gives us so much with the portrayal of a woman in a unhappy marriage (big understatement here) to a woman reclaiming her power.

    I love Carol and I feel for her at times. She is the most ‘human’ to me of all the characters.

    • mia says:

      +1 Carol has been a fantastic character; realistic and inspiring. All that she’s been through and she’s still there fighting and becoming stronger. She’s my favourite character on the show and McBride does a stellar job.

  16. Susan Willingham says:

    So her name is not in with the “regulars”…. she is on the show, she is a regular, why the big fuss over where her name is billed? She doesn’t seem to have a problem with it….

  17. In all honesty I don’t think you can blame the fans, given the fact that you have the opening titles and apparently have two regulars outside of that group. Its fine and all, but it makes no sense.

    • Kaye says:

      Reminds me of Gilligan’s Island’s original opening sequence. “…and the rest!” part of the theme song was so ‘controversial’ that they ended up changing it to end with, “the professor and Mary-Anne!” instead.

      Guess that’s what he need. “…the old cripple and Carol! Here on Walking Dead Isle~”

  18. davez35 says:

    Does it mean she and Scott Wilson make less money than everyone else that appears in the opening sequence?

  19. Kenny says:

    I think it is a way of giving them better credits. If you notice, Carol is always credited first and Hershel is always “and Scott Wilson” If they were in the title theme they would just be floating somewhere in the middle instead of noticeably at the beginning and end.

  20. mia says:

    Now I’m worried that if she’s in the credits, it’ll be the episode she dies in. Like on Buffy, Amber Benson was only in the credits the episode she died. Harsh harsh.

    • Jacob says:

      I love you for the Buffy reference! That was such a huge shock, Tara dying in the episode she became a series regular.

      However, I doubt they’d do that in The Walking Dead. While the Buffy opening focuses on the characters, the credits for this show are kind of… Just there… They wouldn’t add her name half way through a season, it’d just be there the whole season.

  21. vdofan says:

    I bet it doesn’t matter to MMcB where her name is billed, as long as she gets her paycheck on time.

  22. Eric says:

    I find it strange that Scott Wilson and Melissa McBride are now the only prison group members in the “Also Starring” category yet they are (for me at least) the best male and female actors on the show.

    • Judy says:

      Agree Scott Wilson is hands down one of the best actors ever. And I enjoy Melissa a lot too she is my favorite female on the show. Why do all the young things get the above line credits AMC? Time to treat those over 40 like they are worth something too. After all they are why many of us watch.

  23. Tae says:

    In my opinion, it’s probably a clause in the actors contracts. For example, after Shannen Doherty left Charmed, Holly Marie Combs team had her promoted to AND HOLLY MARIE COMBS as “PIPER” Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus are the bigger stars of the show so it makes sense for them to be in the titles. With Charmed Alyssa used to have the “AND” when Shannen was there; however, when Shannen left, Alyssa became the bigger of the two stars left. Rose was then put in the middle and Holly got an AND plus her characters name. It was great move. That raised her profile.

  24. M3rc Nate says:

    This show has way bigger problems than its opening title sequence.

  25. Kayzersoze says:

    It’s funny … most TV shows I’ve liked switch to a shorter opening credits sequence once established, so that they can have more actual show content per episode. I love Walking Dead – I’d very much like it to be longer per episode.

    But the credits and music are so awesome, I wouldn’t want them to be shortened.

    Answer? Put Andrew (pommie) Lincoln’s name up first by itself, then everyone else’s names 2 or 3 at a time (whatever it takes to get everyone on there in the normal amount of time).

    Bring on S4.

  26. Nina says:

    We actually… know this. Who are these people questioning those things? O.o the people on the main credit have more appearances or roles in the series, that is all. I bet Beth’s actress (I forgot her name) is gonna be in the also starring credit also next season.

  27. Sarah says:

    Oh, people, don’t you know that once you showed the creators that you cared about a character they gonna kill them off. I bet Carol’s gonna die in season 4 AFTER she and Daryle hooks up. Yep.

  28. Jeremy says:

    Just face it, she isn’t as important to the story line as others. Not saying she doesn’t do a good job, but she is only a side character. Most of you are obviously not true walking dead fans or you would know that she is expendable, she dies in the comics at the prison. While the tv show does deviate from the comics u can expect them to kill off people in the show that die in the comics. Until Andrea’s death they hadnt killed a single person off who was still alive in the comics. As to tyrese getting credited now, he played a big role in the comics, was ricks right hand man, and was a badass so we can expect that coming up.

    • Kat says:

      They did kill Andrea off – which means they can deviate and make Carol even more of an important character than she was in the comic. I think that’s the big point us fans of McBride are trying to make. Like you said, she’s good. And she can be in important part of the story.

    • Gary says:

      Thanks for the spoiler warning (/sarcasm). I’ve been reading the TPBs for a couple of weeks now, thoroughly enjoying the book, and you tell me she dies.

      True fan, my ass. And WTF is that supposed to mean anyway? You read the comic so you’re a true fan? Would you give away a spoiler on new comic day in a crowded comic shop?

      Somedays, I’d prefer zombies over the internet…

  29. Sheamus says:

    Maybe I’m weird, but how names are listed in the opening credits is irrelevant to me….

  30. The Walking Dead would be far better with Shane. Killing Shane off got rid of the toughest character. Imagine watching Shane and The Governor square off.

    The Walking Dead is the best show. I don’t think the last two episodes matched the last two in Season 2.

    Carol is a good character. He is not as weak as she was when Shane pounded her deadbeat husband in Season 1.

    Carl is like Shane. He doesn’t take any chances. He eliminates the problem.

  31. Meant “She” is not as weak as…

  32. Bring more people to WD says:

    Bring some others characters back
    like Amy, Sophia, Lori, Andrea, or
    bring the Alice character but just like
    one from comic. I have some ideas
    for season 4 soo if you are
    interesting answer here.

  33. PJ Dominicis says:

    Melissa McBride has a day job. She’s been a top agent for child actors for many years. I’m sure she’s having such a good time just being part of a hit show that she doesn’t really care how she’s billed. I love her portrayal of Carol. Carol may not have a lot of screen time, but she’s important nonetheless. It was her late bloomer talk with Merle that began his soul searching. And she’s the one who advised Andrea to kill the Gov in his sleep.

  34. Shy says:

    It’s amazing how that little thing as “ adding trio as regulars” turned into war for Melissa to be included in Titles. Hopefully this will show producers that fans love Carol. I hope they will bring her more lines and will not kill her off in season 4 for no reason.

  35. TV Gord says:

    This is nothing new. Remember when The Professor and Mary Ann were, “and the rest” in the theme song of Gilligan’s Island? ;-) Eventually, they were bumped up to the main credits, but it never mattered.

  36. Will says:

    They should just kill Carol off during season 4s opening scene and not have to worry about it anymore

  37. Ivan says:

    Ah the silliness that is where your name is listed. I don’t think I’ve ever thought more/less of an actor based on the size/position/order in which their name appears. With a large cast, just list the names in alphabetical order. I don’t hear Maggie Smith complaining because her name’s near the end of the cast list on Downton Abbey.

    • bobby74 says:

      Maggie Smith’s name actually APPEARS in the main cast list. Whereas Melissa and Scott on TWD are listed among the guest stars. Because of this, I was shocked when I heard they were series regulars.

    • Gary says:

      The opening credits of Downton Abbey are in alphabetical order….

  38. Kat says:

    So we won’t know where the three who were promoted to “series regulars” will be listed when S4 opens. I think everyone knows Melissa’s name SHOULD be where the Cherokee Roses are. Good Lord. Legalese, a.k.a money, politics, or in layman’s terms, B.S! She is one of the stronger actors on show and from what I have seen the actors with top billing get more screen time. I would love to see Melissa get more screen time as well! She deserves it.

  39. kenichi tanaka says:

    Kirkman says “there’s a lot of producers on the show and that’s not my forte”? Ladies and gents, judging from that comment, I would hazard a guess to say that Robert Kirkman isn’t none too happy with how AMC is treating “The Walking Dead” TV series adaption.

    Could it be that there’s animosity between AMC and Kirkman? Eveyrthing from not being able to retain a showrunner to changing important elements from the comic series just to keep certain characters around.

  40. J says:

    My guess for season four credits would be
    Andrew Lincoln
    Norman Reedus
    Danai Guiria
    Steven Yeun
    Lauren Cohan
    Scott Wilson
    Chad Coleman
    Melissa McBride
    and David Morrissey
    Also Starring Emily Kinney
    Sonequa Martin-Green
    Melissa Ponzio

    • Eric says:

      That would make sense actually. Have Melissa be in the opening and have Emily be in her old “Also Starring” spot. And I can’t see Sonequa being in the opening credits with her other role on Once Upon a Time possibly becoming a much larger role.

  41. coffee says:

    Hi, thanks for sharing.

  42. Ashley says:

    i COULD CARE LESS ABOUT CAROL SHE CAN GO BUT THEY NEED TO KEEP HERSHEL AROUND. HE’S THE NEW DALE THE VOICE OF REASONING OF THE GROUP.

  43. Luca Lozada says:

    she is still alive …thats the main thing !!!

  44. Wilma Baker says:

    The Wikipedia on “The Walking Dead” had her listed as “reoccurring” actor for seasons I, 2, & 3. But I’ve noticed that it’s been changed to “main” actor for season 2 & 3. That probably had something to do with the confusion. I’m happy to see they fixed it. Melissa is my favorite actor on the show.

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