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The latest news on TV from Business Insider

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    • Starting this weekend, the Hallmark Channel is rolling out 33 original Christmas movies. These movies have helped it defy industry trends that are hurting rival networks.
    • The company's formula allows it to crank out movies in three weeks for roughly $2 million each.
    • Most of the films are shot in the summer: "I’ve gotten used to being really hot and sweating in my boots," says Lacy Chabert, a recurring star.
    • Advertisers and viewers are drawn in because they know exactly what they're going to get.


    Roger left his big New York City newspaper job to head back to his Vermont hometown to take over the family newspaper right smack in the middle of the Christmas season.

    Once there, he and his high-school rival, Samantha, now the anchor for the local news station, wound up chasing the biggest story of the year: What will happen to the town's Christmas-tree farm, which is set to be razed by developers? Will they save the farm, get the big story, and keep from falling for each other? Find out on "Christmas Scoop," starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Jennie Garth.

    OK, this isn't a real movie. But if you've ever heard of the Hallmark Channel, you can picture the whole thing.

    The cable network is set to release the first of 33 original Christmas movies — most featuring a pair of recognizable TV stars meeting cute near the mistletoe — this weekend — before we're even done with Halloween.

    Hallmark, it seems, has never stopped saying Merry Christmas, and it's how the network, owned by Crown Media, is defying every trend in the media business. It has milked the Christmas stories to consistently deliver strong live ratings (meaning people watch when the movies are broadcast, not later, say, over the internet), while its rivals grapple with cable cord-cutting and competition from streaming services.

    If you aren't familiar, here are two examples of the kinds of films we're talking about:

    • 2015's "A Crown for Christmas" starring Danica McKellar ("The Wonder Years") as a recently fired New York exec who ends up working for, and falling for, a prince during Christmas.
    • 2016's "A Wish for Christmas" starring Lacey Chabert ("Mean Girls") as a woman granted a wish by Santa Claus, a wish that expires in 48 hours.

    "Their movies are as comforting as programming can be. You can grab a blanket, enjoy a glass of wine, and know the movie will have a happy ending," said Brad Krevoy, a producer who has worked on theatrical movies such as "Dumb and Dumber" and "Threesome."

    Very traditional media

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    People are canceling cable subscriptions and ditching live TV for Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming apps.

    Cable networks are striving to produce original prestige series at a time when there are upwards of 500 on the air. At the same time, mid-tier cable networks are struggling, and some, like Esquire, have disappeared. Everyone in media is trying to figure out where they fit on Facebook and Snapchat.

    Not Hallmark.

    "It's weird," said director Ron Oliver, who's worked on numerous Hallmark projects and logged time on Nickelodeon's "Goosebumps" in the 1990s. "With Hallmark, you actually turn on the TV at 8 p.m. and watch collectively. It speaks to a real need."

    In 2016, Hallmark movies attracted over 2 million live viewers, though by November and December those numbers spiked to 4 million, according to Nielsen. The rating record was set by Candace Cameron Bure’s "Christmas Under Wraps," in 2014, and it actually just added a third cable network, Hallmark Drama, on top of its core network and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries – all part of the Crown Media Family Networks division of Hallmark Cards.

    Crown Media president and CEO Bill Abbot chalks the success up to a commitment to the formula.

    "The business has been so driven by trying to hit the home run, trying to replicate the success of 'The Walking Dead,'" he said. "Hits are very hard to find. That's a very risky strategy. And it's detrimental to the cable industry.

    "People don’t know what they are going to get from original channels," Abbot added. "That’s what’s driving a lot of the decline in audience."

    Taking back Christmas

    The original cable Christmas movie wasn't Hallmark's baby. Rather in the mid-1990s, ABC Family kicked off the craze with its "25 Days of Christmas" franchise. That led to classics such as 2007's "Holiday in Handcuffs" featuring Melissa Joan Hart taking Mario Lopez hostage while he steals her heart— of course at Christmas time.

    Though the Hallmark channel launched in 2001, Crown Media had made TV movies for decades for networks like CBS. But around 2011, as ABC Family (now called Freeform) leaned into targeting teens, Crown went after Christmas in a bigger way.

    "We did look at what '25 Days of Christmas' had become in people's minds and said, 'Wait a minute. We have a brand and a hundred-year legacy,'" Michelle Vicary, EVP of programming & network program publicity, Crown Media Family Networks, said. "We should lean into that as much as we can and do more of it."

    It started paying off immediately. Now Hallmark produces movies tied to Valentine's Day, fall harvest season, June weddings, and summer holidays. But starting October 27, it's pretty much all Christmas movies for the rest of the year.

    "People started to say things to us, like, 'I turn in on right after Halloween and don’t turn it off until New Year's," Vicary said.

    “In this day and age, with the multitude of programs, the notion of a strict adherence to one’s brand – that's friendly, inviting, and welcoming — is a huge plus," said Bruce Vinokour, a television agent at the Creative Artists Agency.

    A feel-good Blumhouse

    How exactly will Hallmark make 87 original movies this year, including 33 Christmas movies?

    The company is known for being disciplined and deliberate. Hallmark typically shoots movies over about three weeks for $2 million — the price of some individual TV episodes or, as Oliver put it, "the catering budget for Transformers."

    The network is almost like the Yuletide version of the much-admired low-budget horror studio Blumhouse.

    Most movies are shot in Canada, where Hallmark gets tax breaks and other benefits from using local production crews. Vancouver is the biggest outlet, given its wintry milieu, though Hallmark has made movies in Toronto, Montreal, and, in some cases, Romania.

    The timing is often tight. Actress Lacey Chabert said she shot a movie last summer that aired four weeks later.

    When Business Insider talked to director Ron Oliver in mid-October, he was in postproduction on "The Christmas Train" (Danny Glover, Dermot Mulroney), which is scheduled to run in late November. Oliver was still writing "Reindeer Games," which he's shooting in November for a December airdate.

    "It's literally down to the wire," he said. "But I always remind people: They shot 'Casablanca' in 18 days."

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    Christmas is good business

    Kagan, a media-research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence, estimated that Hallmark reeled in $431.3 million in revenue between advertising and affiliate fees from cable distributors. That's up from less than $300 million in 2012.

    To put that in context, Lifetime's revenue is roughly double that of Hallmark's, but net operating revenue from 2012 to 2016 has remained relatively flat, $876.4 million to $875.4 million, Kagan estimates.

    Advertisers have noticed Hallmark's ascendancy.

    "If you look at cable in general, there are ratings declines all over the place. And every fourth quarter they are growing. It's kind of incredible," said Keri Feeley, SVP and group partner of integrated investment at the ad-buying firm UM.

    Marketers are particularly drawn to Hallmark because the content is considered safe. And for viewers, "They always find actors that remind you of your childhood," said Feeley.

    Familiar faces

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    There's something of a debate over who is the record holder for most Hallmark Christmas movie appearances — between Candace Cameron Bure (who became a star on "Full House"), Lori Loughlin (also from "Full House"), and Lacey Chabert ("Party of Five" and "Mean Girls"). Though Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper from "The Wonder Years") is coming on strong, said Vicary.

    "It's tough to say," Vicary said. "Lori Loughlin owned August."

    Chabert did her first Hallmark movie in 2010: "Elevator Girl" (a guy and a girl get stuck in an elevator). Her first Christmas movie was "Matchmaker Santa," and she estimates she's done eight or nine since.

    "The way their company works is a family and it mirrors their product," she told Business Insider. "They really care about what they’re putting out."

    Still, Chabert said that the shooting schedule is like "boot camp" in that you "eat, breath, and sleep the movie."

    "It's intense — it’s hard to make a movie in 15 days. They know what they are doing," she told Business Insider.

    Chabert said that for whatever reason, most of her Christmas movies have been shot in the summer.

    "That's fine by me," she said. "I’ve gotten used to being really hot and sweating in my boots."

    Make it snow

    One thing that can't be different: "You have to have snow," Vicary said. That's nonnegotiable.

    Visual-effects expert Luc Benning has worked on several Hallmark projects. There are a few ways to make snow happen, even in August. Options include using:

    • snow blankets (which look like car-seat cushions, Benning says)
    • fire-retardant foam (increasingly popular)
    • a papier-mâché-like product called a Krendl (tough to clean up)
    • crushed limestone (increasingly popular out West)
    • ice shavings from ice blocks
    • snow from the machines that ski slopes use (extremely heavy)

    "The past couple of years Hallmark’s really liked the look of the foam," said Benning, who often works on four and five Hallmark movies back to back. A snow budget might run a Christmas production about $50,000, he said.

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    Then there's the snow needed for actor close-ups. Sometimes, that means soapy bubbles.

    Oliver said he was shooting a scene with Candace Cameron Bure that was supposed to be during a blizzard. So he used a machine that blew soapy bubbles into the air that looked like snow during close-up shots. "He hair was literally concrete," said Oliver. "And she had soap in her mouth."

    Plus, because of the noise that the machine made, the actress had to reshoot her dialogue later "with the same emotion and cadence," he said. Oliver has a way of helping his actors deal: stops at the Shameful Tiki Room bar in Vancouver.

    Christmas future

    As Hallmark pushes its original output to the limit, the question will become, how do you not run out of ideas?

    One way to keep things moving is by doing sequels: "Finding Father Christmas" in 2016 has led to this year's "Engaging Father Christmas" (and eventually "Marrying Father Christmas").

    "My biggest challenge is finding good scripts and good writers," Abbot added. To help, the company has launched a book division that will serve as something of a farm team for future movies.

    Meanwhile, programming chief Vicary said she's already talking to her team about projects for Christmas 2018.

    For his part, Oliver said he's often wondered if he'll ever end up Christmas'd out. But then he gets together with his family and gets right back into the spirit.

    "I always have this huge meltdown on Christmas Eve," he said. "But I love it. It's really about the core idea of people getting together. Underneath it all, we do know the importance of it."

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Lucas Dustin Mike and Max Stranger Things 2 kids school

    Warning: Spoilers ahead for the entire second season of "Stranger Things."

    "Stranger Things 2" is now streaming on Netflix, and we've parsed through every scene to find the biggest callbacks to season one or revelations hidden in the corners of sets or spelled out through dialogue. For this roundup, we're looking at important moments within the "Stranger Things" universe itself, and leaving all the references to 80s movies and pop culture for another time. 

    Keep scrolling for a look at 11 details you might have overlooked on the second season of "Stranger Things."

    Lucas teased Dustin about not getting the princess when he played "Dragon's Lair," foreshadowing how Lucas would wind up with Max by the end of the season.

    "You're just not nimble enough," Lucas said. "You'll get there one day, but until then Princess Daphne is still mine."

    The rest of the season played out a small love triangle between Dustin, Lucas, and Max, but Dustin was left alone and without a love interest by the end of the season. He'll get there one day, right?



    It was ironic to hear Murray Bauman say he thought Eleven was a Russian child, since Eleven was being used by Hawkins Lab to spy on Russians.

    On the opening episode of the second season, Bauman harasses Chief Jim Hopper about his theory involving a Russian child (Eleven) and an elaborate conspiracy with international consequences. 

    Bauman had pieces of the story correct, but the things he got wrong were telling.



    The Russians are mentioned by various characters, but often as a vague allusion to the Cold War, but no one knows how they connect to Hawkins Lab.

    No one seems to realize Dr. Brenner and Hawkins lab seemed to first plan on using Eleven to spy on Russians by showing her their picture and having her listen to them with her powers. Eleven herself is likely unaware of what her temporary involvement in the Cold War was, given how limited her understanding of the world is.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Mike Wheeler Eleven assembly Stranger Things season one

    Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Stranger Things" season two.

    The second season of Netflix's hit series "Stranger Things" premiered Friday, but people are already wondering when they can expect a third installment.

    Although Netflix hasn't officially announced any further seasons of the show, fans can rest easy because a third season (and more) is likely on its way.

    "Stranger Things" cocreators Matt and Ross Duffer recently told Deadline they're "starting on season three now."

    In an August interview with Vulture, The Duffer Brothers also revealed that a fourth season is likely. Then executive producer and director Shawn Levy told Entertainment Weekly that there could even be a fifth season on the map.

    "The truth is we're definitely going four seasons and there's very much the possibility of a fifth," Levy told EW. "Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely."

    A Netflix representative didn’t immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment.

    There was a gap of just over one year between "Stranger Things" season one and two, so fans can likely expect a similar timeline for the next season's premiere. As for what the possible future seasons will focus on, we have to turn to the  Shadow Monster, aka the Mind Flayer.

    Shadow monster Stranger Things 2

    Season two ended with the sweetest middle school dance we've ever seen, but then ominously shifted to the Upside Down to reveal the Mind Flayer still watching over Eleven, Mike, and their friends.

    Even though Eleven closed the gate to the Upside Down, the monster lurking in the creepy alternate dimension isn't gone. This will spell trouble for the future of Hawkins.

    "They've shut the door on the Mind Flayer, but not only is it still there in the Upside Down, it's very much aware of the kids, and particularly Eleven," Ross Duffer told The Hollywood Reporter. "It had not encountered her and her powers until that final episode. Now, it knows that she's out there."

    The Duffers also told THR that another time jump is inevitable since the young actors are growing up quickly. 

    In addition to the Mind Flayer storyline, there was still the open-ended storyline involving Eleven's "sister," Kali, aka Eight. What about kids one through seven, nine, and ten? Did they escape Hawkins Lab too? Are there more out there other than Eight/Kali? 

    All of these questions and more will hopefully be answered on the seasons to come.

    For more on "Stranger Things," including  11 details you might have missed on season twofollow INSIDER's coverage here.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Bob and Joyce Stranger Things season two

    Warning: Minor spoilers ahead for "Stranger Things" season two.

    On the opening episode of "Stranger Things 2," viewers are introduced to Bob Newby — Joyce Byer's former high school classmate and new boyfriend. If you found yourself unable to place the new cast member, you have some serious catching up to do with '80s movies.

    Bob, teasingly called Bob the Brain, is played by Sean Astin, the star of iconic movies including "The Goonies,""Rudy," and the early 2000s "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

    As a kid, Astin played Mikey Walsh in 1985's "The Goonies," one of the many movies "Stranger Things" pays homage to with its ragtag group of kids and sense of adventure. 

    Mikey Sean Astin the Goonies

    "Stranger Things 2" even references Astin's role in "The Goonies" when Bob asks if there's pirate treasure hidden where "X marks the spot."

    Others will know Astin for playing Samwise Gamgee, a hobbit in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Sam was Frodo's loyal friend and most trusted companion throughout his journey in Middle Earth.

    Sam hobbit Sean Astin Lord of the Rings

    We won't spoil any more info about Astin's new character Bob Newby here, but if you've already finished bingeing "Stranger Things 2" make sure to read our roundup of the 11 biggest details you might have missed on season two.

    You can follow more of INSIDER's "Stranger Things" coverage here.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    "Jane the Virgin" fans, rejoice! As you’ll likely recall, Jane Gloria Villanueva, AKA Gina Rodriguez, finally signed a book deal this season for a romance novel called Snow Falling all about her late husband Michael. Now, thanks to Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, you’ll soon be able to read the character’s words, as the novel has gotten a publishing deal IRL!

    The 240-page read will also contend with a love triangle (of course!) as the novel’s heroine, Josephine Galena Valencia, who is “newly engaged to Pinkerton Detective Martin Cadden,” is forced to “decide whether her heart truly belongs with heroic Martin or dashing Rake [Solvino]” — a hotel owner from her past. We are so ready for this!

    Show creator Jennie Snyder Urman has already given the project her stamp of approval, telling fans in a statement to “prepare to get swept up in an epic love story.”

    The real-life publisher is equally excited. As Karen Cooper, Vice President and Publisher at Adams Media, revealed, “We’re huge fans of the show and the way Jennie and her team tease ‘reality’ in such a fantastic and purposeful way. It just felt right that we should riff off that conceit and give Jane’s fans the [happily ever after] they have been waiting for.”

    Pick up a copy of Snow Falling when it comes out on November 14. *Adds to reading list*

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    morgan jesus twd 803

    • AMC has released the preview for season eight's third episode of "The Walking Dead," titled "Monsters."
    • We'll see the fallout of Rick's reunion with a familiar face from the end of next week's episode.
    • Things aren't looking as good for King Ezekiel and his men along with Aaron's boyfriend, Eric.
    • The next episode of "The Walking Dead" will air Sunday, November 5 at 9 p.m. Watch the trailer below.

    AMC released one more tease of next Sunday's episode with more of Morales, which you can view here.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    morgan jesus twd 803

    • AMC has released the preview for season eight's third episode of "The Walking Dead," titled "Monsters."
    • We'll see the fallout of Rick's reunion with a familiar face from the end of next week's episode.
    • Things aren't looking as good for King Ezekiel and his men along with Aaron's boyfriend, Eric.
    • The next episode of "The Walking Dead" will air Sunday, November 5 at 9 p.m. Watch the trailer below.

    AMC released one more tease of next Sunday's episode with more of Morales, which you can view here.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Warning: There are spoilers ahead for AMC's "The Walking Dead."

    Sunday's "The Walking Dead" just saw the return of one long-lost character. Could it see another?

    INSIDER recently asked the show's executive producer Greg Nicotero whether or not fans may see Heath (Corey Hawkins) reappear after abruptly disappearing last season.

    "You know, I don't know," Nicotero told INSIDER about the possibility of seeing Heath again. "I love Corey. I think he's a fantastic actor. I think we were lucky enough to grab him right at the moment where he sort of exploded onto the scene, so to speak."

    Heath went missing on the sixth episode of season seven after he and Tara were separated by a group of zombies. His absence from the show was a bit strange and never addressed. A search party was never sent for him and one must wonder where he has been all this time.

    heath tara the walking dead 706

    If one of the major players — like Daryl, Rick, Michonne, or Carl — went missing like Heath, every effort would have been made to find them. People went after Daryl at the end of season six on "East" when he left Alexandria on his own terms to hunt down Dwight. An episode later, Carol ran off, not wanting to be found, and Morgan went after her.

    Meanwhile, Hawkins' career blew up.

    Since his time on "The Walking Dead," he has starred in "Straight Outta Compton" and played the lead on Fox's "24: Legacy" series. He also appeared in the movie "Kong: Skull Island" alongside Samuel L. Jackson and John Goodman.

    john goodman corey hawkins kong skull island

    "We can always hope that he can pop up every once in a while, or we leave it a little mysterious," said Nicotero. "We haven't really addressed much of that as of late."

    There's certainly room for Heath to pop up again, if not this season, then next. Tara's been holding onto a card that seemed to be some sort of clue to Heath's whereabouts and hasn't looked at it again since season seven.

    ppp walking dead

    It would have made sense for Heath to have popped up Sunday night with the gun to Rick's head instead of Morales. Heath never seemed to be much of a fan of Rick's tactics, on the show at least. In contrast, Heath eventually becomes a close ally in Rick's inner circle in the comics.

    If Hawkins ever does return, it would be cool to see the show change Heath up from the comics a bit and have him come back onto the show with another group.

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    Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Sunday's "The Walking Dead," titled "The Damned."

    Rick and his army continued their war against Negan and his Saviors on Sunday's episode of AMC's "The Walking Dead.

    While they stormed various Savior outposts, taking out Negan's men and rounding up prisoners, there were many callbacks and references that go all the way back to season one. Keep reading to see everything you may have missed.

    Tara, Jesus, Dianne, and Morgan raid a familiar Savior outpost.



    It's the same one they infiltrated at night with Glenn, Heath, and more back on season seven.

    Last time, Morgan wasn't with them. Earlier on the same episode, he was very outspoken with Rick that he didn't believe slaughtering the Saviors in their sleep was the answer to their problems.



    An overconfident Morgan tells men from the Hilltop that he doesn't die early on the episode.

    He's not the only one who has said that phrase.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Dustin Steve Train Tracks Stranger Things 2

    Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Stranger Things" season two.

    Midway through "Stranger Things 2," something magical happens. Dustin — desperate for help with his pollywog pet that turned out to be a baby Demogorgon — runs into Steve and talks him into tagging along for an adventure.

    According to the cocreators Matt and Ross Duffer, this chance encounter wasn't part of their season two story pitch.

    "It wasn't planned — it was something we discovered," Matt Duffer said on episode two of Netflix's new talk show series "Beyond Stranger Things."

    And yet it turned out to be the starting point for one of the best pairings on the two existing seasons of "Stranger Things."

    Steve and Dustin's blossoming bromance plays out as literal brotherly love, with Steve unexpectedly taking on the role of older sibling and mentor to Dustin. He gives Dustin advice on his love life and even reveals his secret hair care routine: "Fabergé Organics. Use the shampoo and the conditioner and when it's damp, not wet, use four puffs of the Farrah Fawcett spray."

    By the end of the season, Steve is the one who drives Dustin to the middle school dance, giving him a small pep talk before sending the youngster out into the harsh world of preteen love. 

    "When we first pitched the season there was no Dustin and Steve bromance," Ross Duffer said. "We realized that Dustin needed help because none of his friends were around. And then we also realized that Steve was just left alone by Nancy."

    The Duffer Brothers decided they needed to pair the two characters up in order to give Steve something to do other than mope. 

    Steve Harrington Stranger Things 2

    "We fell in love with this idea when we came up with it because we were like, 'I think that will lend to some great moments of bonding,' especially because these are two characters that are both a little heartbroken," Ross said. "So we thought that they could help heal each other."

    The Duffer Brothers also explain that Steve and Dustin were both characters who were first written as more one-dimensional stereotypes. But when they cast Joe Keery (Steve) and Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), the characters changed to reflect the actors' charm and personality. Their chemistry and friendship together in real life helps inform how Steve and Dustin evolved on screen.

    Joe and Gaten goofing off Stranger Things 2 premiere

    "Early on it was very clear this was going to be comedy gold, but then by the end of the season it works emotionally," executive producer Shawn Levy said. "And that's a really hard thing to pull off — a pairing that is both funny and moving."

    You can watch the full interview on episode two of "Beyond Stranger Things," which is streaming now on Netflix.

    For more on "Stranger Things," including 11 details you might have missed on season two, follow INSIDER's coverage here.

    SEE ALSO: The 9 biggest questions we have after watching 'Stranger Things' season 2

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    rick walking dead 802

    Warning: There are major spoilers ahead for AMC's "The Walking Dead."

    Sunday’s episode of "The Walking Dead" showed the return of a familiar face fans never thought they’d see again. 

    As Rick and Daryl brutally fought their way through one of the Saviors' safe houses, Rick was brought to a standstill when he caught sight of a photo of a couple. 

    When a gun is put to his head, Rick recognizes the man holding it immediately as Morales. You remember him, right? He and his family were with Rick, Carol, Carl, and Daryl back at a campsite in Atlanta on season one.

    Here he is from season one: 

    morales the walking dead

    Longtime fans of the show lost it.

    If you didn’t recognize Morales, here's a quick refresher on what you need to know about the character's big return.

    As Rick mentioned, Morales and his family were with the original group of survivors outside of Atlanta on season one. When Rick and company decided to head to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for answers, Morales told the group he and his family were going to head their own way.

    morales family walking dead

    When we last saw Morales, his wife, and two children, they were heading off to Birmingham, Alabama to be with family. Morales said he needed to do what was best for them as Rick was doing for his own family.

    It's not known yet whether or not Morales ever arrived in Birmingham or how he arrived in Virginia with the Saviors. We don't even know Morales' first name. The character only went by his last name on the show's first season. Those are two things we'll have to wait to see if we'll find out next Sunday.

    Fans have been wondering for a while if we'd ever see Morales and his family again. The past few seasons people thought there was a chance we may see him again, especially since Morgan, another season one character, returned years later after being off screen for so long.

    The series' showrunner Scott M. Gimple appeared on "The Walking Dead" aftershow to explain why they brought back the character after seven seasons. 

    "Rick isn't the guy he used to be," said Gimple. "To face the past like that is a huge thing for Rick. This whole season is, you know we talked about that 100th episode last week, but this whole season the past keeps coming up in one way or another and Morales is evidence of that."

    Morales' reentry onto the show right now is pivotal at a time where it's easy not to have compassion for any of the characters fighting for Negan. With the exceptions of maybe Dwight and Eugene, many of Negan's followers come off as cold and heartless. It's tough to connect with any of them when they appear to be shells of characters introduced briefly only to be taken out seconds or minutes later.

    But fans know Morales was a good family man at the show's start with values which aligned with Rick's. Has he changed? 

    morales rick the walking dead

    Or better yet, has Rick?

    Rick's core allies — Morgan and Tara — were relentless in taking out Saviors Sunday night. It was a bit scary how much they felt like the hardened group of survivors. Had it not been for Jesus and some of the other members of the Hilltop, they would have slaughtered everyone without a second thought.

    Morales' reintroduction could help hold a mirror to Rick, Carol, Daryl, and Carl to show that their current way of taking out the Saviors may not be the perfect answer to Negan. 

    We already saw Rick questioning himself when he looked into a mirror near the episode's end after murdering countless Saviors and spotting a baby in a crib. Who is the man he is becoming, or has become, and is this the better world he's truly fighting for? 

    "The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

    SEE ALSO: 7 details you may have missed on Sunday's 'The Walking Dead'

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    Eleven Jane Stranger Things 2 Millie Bobby Brown

    Warning: Major spoilers ahead for season two of "Stranger Things."

    The second season of Netflix's "Stranger Things" ended on a spooky note. After the heartwarming Snow Ball school dance scene, the camera panned to the Upside Down version of Hawkins Middle School and showed the Shadow Monster, aka the Mind Flayer, watching over Eleven and the rest of the kids.

    What does this mean for the third season (which cocreators The Duffer Brothers says is already in the works)? Is the Upside Down still connected to Hawkins? What exactly is the Mind Flayer? 

    We're here to explain all this and more as we look at how the final moment of "Stranger Things 2" plays into the future of the series.

    Why the Upside Down and the Void are key

    In order to better understand the Mind Flayer and its place in the "Stranger Things" world, we first should look back at what we know about Eleven, The Upside Down, and the multiverse theory.

    The Upside Down is an alternate universe that exists alongside the "real" Hawkins, and presumably the rest of the world. Eleven accidentally opened a gate that connected the human universe to the Upside Down.

    The reason Eleven was able to open the gate in the first place was because she can travel to the Void — that black space with a watery floor where she goes using her psychic powers. This is where Eleven goes in her mind to find or communicate with other beings.

    Eleven void Stranger Things 2

    Netflix brought Bill Nye onto the new post-season talk show "Beyond Stranger Things" to help illustrate how this theory of the multiverse works.

    As Nye and the cast explained, the Void is effectively the space that exists in an overlap between the two different universes: The Upside Down and Hawkins. For the full explanation with visuals, you can watch their conversation on episode five of "Beyond Stranger Things," also streaming on Netflix.

    So keeping all this in mind, now let's turn to the supernatural beings occupying the Upside Down.

    The Mind Flayer and how it operates in the Upside Down

    Though season one lured viewers into believing the Demogorgon was the main monster living in the Upside Down, the second season revealed that The Mind Flayer is the real supernatural villain of the show. 

    The Duffer Brothers, Matt and Ross, explained their thinking behind the Mind Flayer on the first episode of "Beyond Stranger Things."

    "It's about laying the table for what's to come," Ross Duffer said. "So what we talked about was how in season one we always saw the Demogorgon as a shark like in 'Jaws.'"

    Basically the Demogorgon was like a shark in the water, except its "water" was another dimension — the Upside Down. So it would leave the Upside Down to hunt and then bring its prey back into its domain.

    Demogorgon Stranger Things season one E8

    "But that's just an animal attacking out on instinct, so what would something from this other world be that was actually sentient?" Ross said. "And so that led to the creation of the Mind Flayer."

    "Also we talked a lot about sustaining the story, we talked about Voldemort," Ross said. "You need a threat that isn't just a shark. You need a threat that has plans and goals and thoughts."

    So the Mind Flayer is akin to Voldemort in "Harry Potter"— an existential threat to the protagonist who is intent on world domination but has been thwarted in the past.

    Mind Flayer Will E3 Stranger Things 2

    "But not something you can understand," Matt chimed in. "It's like the Lovecraftian approach to horror ... it's like a cosmic horror. It's something obviously from another dimension but you don't understand what its intentions are. It's beyond comprehension."

    As Dustin described on episode eight of "Stranger Things 2," the Mind Flayer is a concept taken from Dungeons and Dragons. The Duffer Brothers said they conceived of the Shadow Monster first, then retroactively realized it fit with the Mind Flayer as described in Dungeons and Dragons.

    "The Mind Flayer. It's a monster from an unknown dimension," Dustin said on episode eight. "It's so ancient it doesn't even know its true home. It enslaves races of other dimensions by taking over their brains using its highly developed psionic powers."

    The Mind Flayer operates its army using a hive mind system of communication. From the Demogorgon and Demodogs to Will as an infected host, the Mind Flayer can control other beings from afar.

    Mind Flayer final scene Stranger Things 2

    What this means for Eleven and the future of "Stranger Things"

    The song choice of "Every Breath You Take" during the ending scene was no accident. On the seventh episode of "Beyond Stranger Things," The Duffer Brothers sat down with Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) and Noah Schnapp (Will) to discuss the episode. They admitted that the song's line, "I'll be watching you," is meant to be telling. 

    "Will has a connection to it, even if its lost," Ross said. "And then this thing is very aware of Eleven. They've come face to face."

    "I'm screwed," Millie Bobby Brown said.

    "You're screwed," Ross replied. "I would be worried about Eleven. You slammed the door on him."

    Eleven Stranger Things finale ending Mind Flayer

    Given the Voldemort analogy The Duffer Brothers used and this hint at a threat to Eleven's safety, we're guessing the Mind Flayer won't leave Hawkins alone without trying to destroy Eleven first. If it believes humans are simply another race of beings it could use as a disposable army, and Eleven is the only thing standing in its way, then we're definitely concerned for her future. 

    Eleven is growing more powerful as she ages and learns how to tap into her anger. Not only was her final showdown with the Mind Flayer and the gate a big moment for her, but this season she also began visiting the Void in her dreams. This was a new extension of her psychic abilities. 

    If we keep the "Harry Potter" analogy going, perhaps Eleven's growing powers and understanding of her role in the world are similar to the way Harry was marked "as his equal" by Voldemort as a child. Harry and Voldemort shared similar abilities and a unique mental connection, but in the end it was Harry's capability of love and the choices he made that set him up to vanquish the Dark Lord. 

    Mind Flayer smoke Stranger Things finale

    Eleven is already learning, as Harry did, that the power of her heart and fierce desire to protect those she loves is a strong magical force. As for the connection to the Mind Flayer, we doubt it's a coincidence that a character called Eleven's powers "psionic"— the same term used for the Mind Flayer. 

    Will's connection to the Mind Flayer is also interesting. Did the shadow possessing him truly leave? Will he still have True Sight (as the other boys called it) and be able to see flashes into the Upside Down? 

    The Duffer Brothers only left these small breadcrumbs behind for "Stranger Things" fans to dwell on until season three

    For more on "Stranger Things," including 11 details you might have missed on season two, follow INSIDER's coverage here.

    SEE ALSO: The 9 biggest questions we have after watching 'Stranger Things' season 2

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    kevin spacey house of cards frank underwood

    • Actor Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of making a sexual advance toward him when Rapp was 14 years old, in 1986. Spacey was 26 at the time.
    • People are now asking Netflix to cancel "House of Cards," which Spacey stars in.
    • Others are saying the show should continue without Spacey's involvement.
    • Netflix hasn't publicly commented on the matter.


    Following the sexual-misconduct accusation against Kevin Spacey by the actor Anthony Rapp, 46, some wonder whether "House of Cards" will continue without Spacey's involvement.

    On Twitter, some fans of the show are calling for Netflix to cancel the show rather than continue it with Spacey, 58, in the starring role. The trend was noticed by BuzzFeed News, which also first reported Rapp's allegations.

    In "House of Cards," now preparing for its sixth season, Spacey plays a corrupt, power-hungry congressman turned president of the United States. It's a groundbreaking role for Spacey, who made his career as a movie actor.

    In his role as Frank Underwood, Spacey has received five Emmy Award nominations for best leading actor in a drama series, and forced the TV industry to take streaming shows seriously.

    But as "House of Cards" has continued, the show's plot has increasingly sidelined Frank Underwood to his wife, Claire, played by Robin Wright, who has presidential ambitions of her own. Some fans are asking Netflix to continue the show without Spacey, which would allow Wright to continue the plot as well as keep the entire cast and crew employed.

    Beau Willimon, who created "House of Cards," said he is taking Rapp's accusations seriously, but denies he was aware of any inappropriate behavior on Spacey's part.

    "During the time I worked with Kevin Spacey on 'House of Cards,' I neither witnessed nor was aware of any inappropriate behavior on set or off,"Willimon wrote in a statement. "I take reports of such behavior seriously, and this is no exception. I feel for Mr. Rapp and I support his courage."

    Netflix didn't immediately respond to INSIDER's request for comment.

    If you are a victim of sexual assault, you can visit RAINN or call its hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to receive confidential support from a trained staff member.

    SEE ALSO: Kevin Spacey apologizes after accusation of sexual misconduct, comes out as gay

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    rick daryl walking dead season 8

    "The Walking Dead" is based off of the popular comic series of the same name from Robert Kirkman.

    Not all of the characters on the AMC show have roots in the comics though. Daryl and Tara are among the series' original characters. Others, like Carol, are completely different from their comic-book counterparts.

    Keep reading to see how the show's major characters compare to their comic-book versions.

    SEE ALSO: Sunday's 'The Walking Dead' surprises with a huge reveal and fans are losing it

    Andrew Lincoln plays the survivors' fearless leader, Rick Grimes.

    We've seen Rick go from the tame and quick-thinking "Officer Friendly" to a more savage, menacing force in the zombie apocalypse.

    Now, Rick has brought together three communities — Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom — in the war against Negan.



    Rick's son Carl is played by Chandler Riggs who grew up on the show.

    Carl has had one of the series' largest transformations. Not only has actor Chandler Riggs grown his hair out, but now he wears a prosthetic and bandage to cover up his missing eye to look like a spitting image of his comic counterpart.



    Danai Gurira plays the katana-wielding Michonne.

    While Rick and Michonne started a relationship on the show, that's not the case in the comics; the two are just good friends.

    Instead, she starts relationships with Morgan and King Ezekiel in the books. The TV version of Michonne has partially taken over the role of Andrea from the comic, who similarly starts up a relationship with Rick.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Steve Harrington Stranger Things 2

    Warning: Spoilers ahead for season two of "Stranger Things."

    The second season of "Stranger Things" came to an ominous close with the Shadow Monster/Mind Flayer keeping watch over Hawkins. Among the questions of what the Mind Flayer's next move could be and how it affects Eleven, we have plenty of other burning queries when it comes to the series.

    Keep reading for a look at the biggest unresolved mysteries left by the end of "Stranger Things 2."

    What will the Mind Flayer do next? Are there other gateways between the Upside Down and the human universe?

    The final shot of "Stranger Things 2" showed the Mind Flayer creepily standing over Hawkins Middle School. 

    On the seventh episode of Netflix's "Beyond Stranger Things," The Duffer Brothers discussed the ending with Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven).

    "This thing is very aware of Eleven," Ross Duffer said. "They've come face to face."

    "I'm screwed," Millie Bobby Brown said.

    "You're screwed," Ross replied. "I would be worried about Eleven. You slammed the door on him."'

    For more on what this might mean for Eleven, read our full explainer here.



    Does Will still have True Sight? Can he access the Upside Down?

    When Mike and Dustin realized what was happening to Will and his "flashbacks" into the Upside Down, they referred to his ability as True Sight. Due to the time he had spent in the Upside Down and in the Demogorgon's lair, Will forged a special connection with the alternate universe.

    Will this connection remain intact even after the Mind Flayer's shadow was exorcised out of him? Or was that link destroyed?



    Will Eleven’s powers keep expanding?

    Between her crazy levitating showdown with the Mind Flayer and her apparent ability to recover more quickly using her telekensis, Eleven is on her way to being even more of a badass powerhouse than we'd realized.

    Not only can she move larger objects now, but she also began having dream-visions of the Void. On the first season she needed to intentionally seek someone in the Void using their photo, but now it appears as if her subconscious is doing the work for her. 

    Are there more super powers hiding inside Eleven? Will her current abilities become even more advanced?



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • Netflix is plotting three "House of Card" spinoffs.
    • The streaming service announced that the political drama would come to an end after its sixth and final season.
    • Both pieces of news come after a sexual misconduct allegation against the show's star, Kevin Spacey.

     

    Netflix is moving ahead with plans for a “House of Cards” spinoff.

    Variety has learned that the streaming service and producer Media Rights Capital are in very early stages of development on multiple ideas for a potential spinoff. One concept revolves around Doug Stamper, the political aide-de-camp played by actor Michael Kelly in the first five seasons of the political drama, with Eric Roth set to write. Roth served as an executive producer on the first four seasons of “House of Cards” and is currently exec producing TNT’s “The Alienist.”

    At least two other spinoff ideas are also being explored, though writers have not yet been attached to all of them. All the potential series take place in the same universe as “House of Cards,” a political thriller about Frank Underwood, a devious congressman played by Kevin Spacey who ascends to the role of President of the United States through political and criminal machinations.

    Spokespersons for Netflix and Media Rights Capital declined to comment.

    Plans for the spinoff have not been impeded by the uncertainty around the sixth season of “House of Cards” that surfaced Sunday with allegations against Spacey of sexual assault. Netflix on Monday confirmed that “House of Cards” will end after the upcoming sixth season, currently in production in Baltimore. In a statement, the streaming service and MRC also said that they had sent executives to Baltimore Monday to meet with cast and crew after actor Anthony Rapp told Buzzfeed in an interview that Spacey had sexually assaulted him when Rapp was 14 years old.

    Spacey is currently not on set for “House of Cards.” Sources close to the production say that season six had been intended as the final installment of the show.

    “House of Cards” is widely credited as the show that put Netflix on the original programming map when it premiered in 2013.  The series has been nominated for 53 Primetime Emmy Awards — including five nominations for outstanding drama series.

    By putting multiple potential spinoffs in development, Netflix is following the same path pursued by HBO with “Game of Thrones,” as the premium service has assigned multiple writers to develop various takes on prequels set within the fantasy universe created by George R.R. Martin and in which “Game of Thrones” is set.

    SEE ALSO: Netflix confirms that 'House of Cards' will end with season 6, a day after star Kevin Spacey was accused of sexual misconduct

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    • Wendy Williams fainted on live TV during her show, "Wendy."
    • The morning host quickly recovered after a commercial break.
    • She told viewers she overheated and continued powering forward.

     

    Wendy Williams gave viewers a scare they weren't expecting Halloween morning.

    The host of "The Wendy Williams Show" passed out during her live show while dressed up as Lady Liberty. The host lost her balance, started shaking, and then collapsed to the ground before the show cut to black.

    wendy williams faint live tv

    You can watch the moment below. It may be a little difficult to watch.

    Fans immediately started wondering what happened to the morning host.

    They didn't have to wonder long. Williams quickly returned after the commercial break to let everyone know she's all right.

    wendy williams passes out tv

    "That was not a stunt," Williams said when she returned to TV. "I overheated in my costume and I did pass out, but, you know what? I'm a champ and I'm back." 

    Williams is under bright hot lights on camera, but her spill is a reminder to make sure you're hydrated under any hot, layered costumes you may be wearing on Halloween.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Dr. Brenner and Eleven season one Stranger Things E3

    Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Stranger Things" season two.

    "Stranger Things" executive producer Shawn Levy just cleared up one of the biggest burning questions we had after the series' second season. According to Levy, Dr. Brenner, aka Eleven's "papa," is definitely still alive.

    Brenner's fate was left uncertain on the season one finale when the Demogorgon leapt onto him — but we never saw a body. Then season two brought his fate into question when Eleven was on the verge of killing an ex-Hawkins Lab employee who told her Brenner was still alive. 

    In a recent interview with Collider, Shawn Levy confirmed that the man wasn't just lying to save his own skin.

    "Whether or not people feel [episode seven] was entirely successful, the Duffers want to take some swings, and they know that they're not gonna please everybody,"Levy said. "But that feeling of the world getting a bit bigger especially coupled with the fact that it now seems clear that Brenner is alive, Brenner is out there."

    Dr. Brenner school Stranger Things

    Levy's confirmation is in line with something "Stranger Things" cocreators The Duffer Brothers said after the first season aired. Here's what Matt Duffer told IGN during an interview in 2016.

    I would say that if we were going to kill Brenner … as an audience member watching the show, if that was his death, that would be very unsatisfying to me — when the monster jumps on him and we cut away. He would deserve much more than that as an ending. So yes, there's a possibility of seeing him again.

    So will Eleven try to find Brenner on season three? She was clearly terrified of even the fake projection of him that appeared in the second season. But Brenner might come into play if we ever learn about the rest of the children he had kidnapped and experimented on. Eleven could have no choice when it comes to facing her torment er.

    For more on this possible storyline and other mysteries, read our breakdown of 13 major questions we had after "Stranger Things" season two.

    SEE ALSO: Who was the dumbest, smartest, and most heroic in 'Stranger Things' season 2

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    • Netflix and Media Rights Capital have suspended production of "House of Cards," Business Insider confirmed. 
    • The two companies have halted the show in what is meant to be the sixth and final season.
    • The news comes two days after actor Anthony Rapp made a sexual misconduct allegation against Kevin Spacey, the show's star.


    Netflix has suspended production on its sixth and final season of "House of Cards," in light of a sexual misconduct allegation against the show's star, Kevin Spacey, Netflix confirmed to Business Insider.

    "MRC and Netflix have decided to suspend production on 'House of Cards' season six, until further notice, to give us time to review the current situation and to address any concerns of our cast and crew," the two companies said in a joint statement. "House of Cards" was in production in Baltimore.

    The companies added they were "deeply troubled" by the allegation against Spacey.

    Netflix announced Monday that the show's sixth season would be its last. The news followed an allegation of sexual misconduct against Spacey by the actor Anthony Rapp, who said Spacey made a sexual advance toward him in 1986, when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 26. 

    Following the accusation, Spacey wrote an apology that he posted on Twitter, in which he came out as gay, and said that he did "not remember the encounter," but that if it happened it "would have been deeply inappropriate, drunken behavior."

    Spacey's apology drew widespread criticism, especially from the LGBTQ community.

    The show's cancellation was reportedly not an effect of the Spacey allegation, as the decision had been in the works since the summer, according to The Hollywood Reporter

    While it is unclear when or whether the show's sixth season will continue production, Netflix reportedly has three "House of Cards" spinoffs in the works.

    Deadline first reported the news of the show's suspension. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Warning: There are some spoilers ahead if you haven't seen Sunday's "The Walking Dead."

    Sunday's "The Walking Dead" surprised fans with the return of a character we haven't seen since season one. In the episode's final minutes, Rick was held at gunpoint by Morales, one of the original survivors of the zombie apocalypse.

    Although fans were shocked by his big return as one of Negan's Saviors, the actor behind Morales, Juan Gabriel Pareja, tells INSIDER it could have possibly happened years ago. 

    "There were casual conversations here and there, and some rumors, and formally, I would hear that there was talk of a storyline for Morales' return being developed, but then I think when [showrunner] Glen [Mazzara] left, that might have died with him. It's hard to know for sure," Pareja told INSIDER Monday.

    the walking dead morales

    Mazzara took over the show during seasons two and three after Frank Darabont ran the first season.

    "The only time I was officially contacted by the good folks at AMC was this spring," said Pareja. "Everything prior to that had just been rumor, speculation, and hearsay for the most part."

    The last time we saw Morales, he and his family parted ways with Rick and his Atlanta group of survivors to search for family in Birmingham, Alabama. 

    morales family walking dead

    For years, members of the "Walking Dead" fandom have been wondering if we may ever see Morales again. It's been a question some fans will pose — mostly joking — each time a new season comes around. But it wouldn't be out of the ordinary. The show has already brought back some old faces including Morgan (Lennie James), who appeared in season one only to disappear for a few seasons before returning at two different points throughout the show.

    Pareja himself has been fueling the fandom fire for a while of Morales' potential return. 

    "A long time ago, I posted a picture of a teaser before I went to a convention, that I think might have been the seed that kind of, over the years has been venturing in the fan base and the appetite to see Morales return, and it's nice to finally have that day arrive," Pareja said.

    The photo was of Pareja dressed as his "Walking Dead" character with the words "Not Dead" over it. In his tweet, he used the hashtag #MoralesLives before he headed to one of the series' Walker Stalker Cons.

    In January, he imitated the show's new villain, Negan, in another post.

    How did he finally wind up back on the show?

    Pareja, who has been a giant fan of the show since his departure, said he received a voicemail earlier this year from the office which originally cast him on the series.

    "I was really kind of confused, and thrown for a loop," he said. "I called right back, maybe perhaps a little too eagerly, to see what the deal was. It was just a tentative, getting a feeler for the situation, what my schedule was like, if I had a little bit of a window open for production, and just seeing if there'd be any interest on my part, should that actually come to pass. I definitely replied in the affirmative, [and] said I would be more than happy to return to the show."

    Nothing was set in stone at this point. There was a bit of back and forth to see whether or not Morales would actually return in season eight.

    Regardless, Pareja decided to make the most of it and started prepping to get into character by shedding 40 pounds.

    "I was just told that maybe, in two months, they might come back to the bring Morales back onto the show," he said. "With that in mind, I had a little bit of time. It was still left up in the air, but I started training and wanted to make sure if Morales did make a comeback, that he would be a formidable presence on the screen."

    Pareja said he started shooting during the summer and it was a little tough to stomach that he would be playing opposite Rick as one of the Negan's Saviors. 

    "I have continued to be a little bit of a fanboy, and have continued to root for Rick, and have been a hard Team Rick all the way. The biggest challenge and difficulty was swallowing that bitter pill of the writers bringing Morales back as this villain with the Saviors," Pareja said of having to play against his former ally. "I kind of had to do a little bit of mental adjustments."

    Those adjustments included showrunner Scott Gimple helping Pareja see his character as more than just a Savior villain. 

    "I was trying to deal with this way that Morales was being brought back, as a villain. Scott was kind of like, 'No,' and helped guide me through that, and not necessarily as a villain, but from his own point of view," Pareja said of Morales' character trajectory on the show. "It's just what he [Morales] had to do to survive. It's just not as clear cut. You always have to make the case for your character, and not necessarily write them off as villains, but just people who are doing what they have to do to survive."

    twd morales 802

    It's been an adventure for Pareja to go from a minor character in four episodes of "The Walking Dead" in season one to a major player years later when it's a worldwide phenomenon.

    "It's incredibly exciting to be back," he said. "I want to thank all the fans for keeping the dream alive over the years and making their demands known, and ultimately bringing us to this moment where we see that Morales lives."

    You can follow along with Pareja on Instagram here and Twitter here throughout the season. We'll see more of him on the next episode of "The Walking Dead" which airs Sunday, November 5 on AMC.

    SEE ALSO: Here's how the cast of 'The Walking Dead' looks compared to their comic-book counterparts

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