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Kim Dickens Has ‘Gotten Past’ Pain of Getting ‘Killed Off’

  • Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the season seven finale of “Fear the Walking Dead.”
  • After getting “killed off” the series in 2018, Kim Dickens reprised her role as Madison Clark.
  • Dickens told Insider she’s past the pain of how she previously left the show and teases what she wants to see on season 8.

Nearly four years after getting “killed off” the show, Kim Dickens returned to “Fear the Walking Dead” on Sunday’s season seven finale.

It’s an emotional homecoming for fans who rallied for years to see the show’s former lead on screen once more as the tough-as-nails Madison Clark on AMC’s apocalyptic “TWD” spinoff. It’s also an unreal opportunity for Dickens who didn’t expect to reprise the fan-favorite.

“I felt like I’d worked my whole career to get to that moment to lead that show as a mature woman in a genre piece,” Dickens told Insider over a


call on Wednesday. “I was so proud of getting there …. It was challenging and I enjoyed that more than I ever imagined. I enjoyed being the female lead in an unexpected way.”

In 2018, Dickens told Entertainment Weekly she was “disappointed and heartbroken” over learning her character was getting killed off the series, a role that felt like a once-in-a-lifetime gig.

“They’re hard to come by. There’s more and more of them, but I still think that was really part of the hurt,” Dickens told Insider of leading roles for women in Hollywood. “It was just sort of a dream role and so I’m super glad to be back.”

On Sunday’s finale, fans met a very different Clark from the one they remember. Dubbed “Madison 2.0,” this colder, more ruthless Madison has been trafficking kids for the mysterious Padre camp, and it leads to an uncomfortable encounter with Morgan (Lennie James), who joined the series after Dickens’ departure.

A few years removed, Dickens told Insider she’s “gotten past” her shocking “Fear” departure, sharing how the fans “buoyed” her spirits and likely played a part in her return. But, like many, Dickens is a bit bummed that Madison and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) didn’t get a mother-daughter reunion before Debnam-Carey’s farewell from the series on the season’s penultimate episode.

We also asked Dickens her thoughts on Madison’s turn as a child trafficker in the zombie apocalypse (she was a bit worried fans may hate Madison), if we’ll ever learn how she survived the stadium walkers (hopefully!), and whether or not fans can expect to see her share some scenes with her bestie Colman Domingo, who plays the cunning Victor Strand, next season. (Dickens teased that they better or there could be an “actor mutiny on set.”)

Kim Dickens believes the fans helped bring her back to ‘Fear,’ although no one has officially confirmed that’s the case to her.


Madison FearTWD 716



Madison returns on season seven, episode 16 and fans finally learn that she’s been working for Padre, the place her daughter was searching for.

Lauren “Lo” Smith/AMC

Insider: Kim, this feels surreal because I’ve been asking [coshowrunners] Ian [Goldberg] and Andrew [Chambliss] if there was a chance that Madison could return to “Fear” since November 2020 and the day has come. Here you are.

I want to start off with three words: Bring back Madison. That was a movement started by the fans after you left the series from those who wanted to see you back. In December, on “Talking Dead,” you had mentioned that the fans “probably made a significant impact on being able to come back.” Was that movement unexpected and overwhelming to see? I ask that because it’s one thing to see a fan base rallying, but this was people rallying for years on end for Madison to return. What goes through your mind when you see that and how is it to be back?

Dickens: I was aware of it for a while. I didn’t follow it intensely because I did have to start letting go of the show and it was really painful. I was pretty open about that when Madison was killed off, but I had to sort of heal up after that and move on. It was a heartbreaking loss.

Then, I started to notice this swell of the fan base and it really touched me. It really touched me. I thought, “Oh, OK. She does matter. The story did matter to people. It’s not just another character.” And, this is the way it goes in this genre. It buoyed me. It buoyed my spirits a little as I moved on and then it did linger.

It was like, “Wow, they stuck around.” They really stuck around. They didn’t let up. That kind of made me laugh a little bit. It was joyful for me. It was like, that’s cool. That’s really awesome and it made me feel great. And, I do — I don’t know, no one’s told me this — but I can’t imagine that they didn’t have a little bit of the spark to the flame to bring her back, you know? It was really cool to see that sort of swell and it just continued.

Absolutely. There was even a fan survey at one point and there were just other things that kept it going.

Dickens never heard anything about a potential return to ‘Fear’ before season 7.


Fear TWD 716 Kim Dickens



Madison is seen on the season seven finale of “Fear TWD.”

Lauren “Lo” Smith/AMC

In April, Andrew and Ian had told me that they had been thinking of bringing Madison back for a few seasons. I’m curious, did you ever hear anything or any whispers about coming back before season seven?

Not at all.


Nope. Nothing. Like I said, I moved on. I did another series. I did some movies and just kept going and when it did come around, that’s why I think it’s kind of fate because it did sort of fit. It worked out because I was available and I was in-between things and the timing was good and the story they came up with was great. It was the right time for them storywise and the right sort of emotional hook for it. So it sort of felt like it was meant to be.

I’d sort of gone off and done my own thing and to come back to a project is so unusual. If you like the project, you like the character it’s fun. It’s unique. It’s a unique experience. We did it with “Deadwood.” We got to sort of go back and do a movie years later. It is fun to revisit the ones you love and this was one of those.

Dickens has moved past any feelings about getting ‘killed off’ the show: ‘My road to happiness is not paved with resentment.’


Fear TWD 716 Kim Dickens, Lennie James



Madison finally meets Morgan (Lennie James) on the season seven finale. Morgan joined the series from “TWD” after Madison left.

Lauren “Lo” Smith/AMC

I believe there was a Zoom call that you had with Ian, Andrew, and [“TWD” chief] Scott Gimple in January 2021 about possibly coming back. How was this pitched to you and what was the thing, or the things, that convinced you to say yes and return? As you said earlier, my understanding is that you were pretty heartbroken and as shocked as the fans when Madison originally left the show.

I believe they sort of inquired at the end of 2020 to see if I was interested or if I would entertain a phone call with them and I said I did. So by the time we had the Zoom, it was in the new year, January 2021. I had no idea what they were gonna say. I mean, for all I knew it could be they wanted a flashback or they wanted just an episode or something. And so I said to them, “OK. Well, I’m just here to listen.” And they talked. We must have talked for over an hour and they just pitched me the whole storyline, even going into [season] eight, and it really — it surprised me.

I liked it more than I even imagined I would like what their plan was. It felt like Madison. It felt like somewhere new and different. I wasn’t interested in repeating things. I wanted it to be a 2.0 kind of thing. I was just really impressed with their ideas. My road to happiness is not paved with resentment. You know what I mean? [I’ve] gotten past it all. I’m a professional person. We were just professional and it was a really nice conversation with each other. I was just open to them wanting to have this call and pitching me this idea.

Dickens also wanted to see a Madison and Alicia reunion. She hopes one may still be possible at some point given her own return to the series.

Madison and Alicia Clark, Kim Dickens and Alycia Debnam-Carey


Alycia Debnam-Carey left “Fear” one episode before Kim Dickens’ return, frustrating many fans.

Lauren “Lo” Smith/AMC, composite by Kirsten Acuna/Insider

A lot of fans have been talking about this. Is it bittersweet that your return to “Fear” comes an episode after Alycia Debnam-Carey’s departure from the show? Were you hoping to share a scene with her upon returning? Did you always know that if you were coming back that she may be leaving?

That was a killer moment. Of course, my dream is to be back reunited with Madison and Alicia. And I love Alycia Debnam-Carey. We’re friends. I know enough personally about her and where she is in her life. These are decisions that are made story wise, and these are decisions made personally and growth wise.

So, I kinda had an inkling, but it’s still a disappointment because, like the fans, I sort of was excited to have those scenes with her, too. But, Madison continued to live on, in spirit, in the stories while she was gone and in her children. I don’t see how Alicia’s spirit won’t still be a part of the show and the story. And, you know, [you] can always hope. I mean, look, I’m sitting here talking you to about coming back, so you never know.

Right. Maybe the fans just need to start another hashtag, and maybe we could possibly see some sort of reunion one day. They definitely left it open for her.

Yeah. She’s just done such amazing work. We all started this so long ago and it was a big part of her 20s. So, just incredible, incredible work. Every time I saw her, when I went back to start watching the show again, I was just blown away at her presence and her talent and just so happy for her and proud of her, too.

When Dickens learned Madison was trafficking children on season seven, she was concerned fans may hate Madison.


Madison and Mo FearTWD 716



Madison takes Mo from Morgan to give to the folks at Padre.

Lauren “Lo” Smith/AMC

What was your reaction to learning that Madison was trafficking kids for a while, and, if at all, how involved were you in Madison’s return story?

Well, [laughter] I probably laughed. I was like, “Oh my God, you’re gonna bring me back and now they’re gonna hate me. They’re gonna bring back Madison and now they’re gonna hate Madison.”

But, she’s a tough one. She’s controversial. She always was controversial in her choices and chopping off heads. Her means to an end was not always appreciated by people, but, I thought it was kind of a genius thing. I thought it was really fascinating to completely strip her of her identity and make her sort of the polar opposite, in a way and being controlled by another group and not being the leader. For me, that seemed really cool to play.

The journey from where she went from the stadium to this moment is gonna be something to unpack. Then, where will she go from this moment when we see her at the end of season seven? That’s a journey ahead of us. Which way is she gonna go then?

Dickens hopes we’ll learn exactly how Madison survived the horde of stadium walkers on season four. She says it’s ‘too juicy’ to not share.

madison clark feartwd 408



Madison was in a seemingly impossible situation with no way out on season four, episode eight of “Fear TWD.”


On Sunday’s episode, we don’t learn how Madison exactly survived the stadium attack from season four, episode eight where a group of the undead were descending upon her. We get some hints. Madison now needs oxygen. It seems like she may have suffered from some smoke inhalation.

Do you know if fans will ever learn exactly how Madison survived? Is this something you maybe discussed with Ian and Andrew? Or do you know how Madison survived?

I did discuss it with the guys and I don’t know if it it will be a part of the story. I can’t imagine it not being a part of the story because I think it’s just too juicy. So I don’t know how that will play out or if it will, but I do kind of know the ideas they have for that.

Whenever someone survives an impossible situation, I feel like the joke is always a dumpster. Did Madison pull a Glenn and dive under a dumpster? I’m sure it’s a lot better than that.


Dickens says it’s fun to consider appearing in the larger ‘TWD’ universe, but hasn’t heard anything about being on any other projects.

Kim Dickens Has 'Gotten Past' Pain of Getting 'Killed Off'

Norman Reedus is getting his own “TWD” spinoff in 2023.
Jace Downs/AMCShow less

Kim Dickens Has 'Gotten Past' Pain of Getting 'Killed Off'

Kim Dickens has previously said how she could see Madison being related to Daryl.
Lauren “Lo” Smith/AMCShow less

I know you’re back on “Fear,” but do you think there’s a possibility that we could ever see Madison in the wider “Walking Dead” universe? A few years back, you mentioned that you could see Madison being related to Daryl Dixon at San Diego Comic-Con and Daryl’s going to be getting his own show.

Oh yeah. Yeah. Well, honestly, you just, you never know. They have a license to do that. It’s a massive universe and that’s what’s so cool about it. It’s fun to think about it, but I have not heard anything about it.

I’m always hoping that they take advantage of that potential crossover.


Dickens wants a Madison and Victor reunion or teases there may ‘be an actor mutiny on set.’

FearTWD 215 Madison, Alicia, Victor


Colman Domingo (right) was the one who first texted Kim Dickens about a potential return to “Fear TWD.”

Peter Iovino/AMC

Is there anything that you can tease from Madison’s journey on season eight? Can we expect to see her with more than just Morgan (Lennie James)? Maybe there’s a little Victor Strand reunion? I know you and Colman Domingo are close. And is there anything else that you want to share about what it means to be back?

I would imagine I’m gonna run around with all the characters over there. I even told the guys, I was like, “Look. Colman and I are pretty excited to get back together and if you don’t write for us, there’s probably gonna be an actor mutiny on set.” So [laughter] I think they’re beholden to us, but I can’t imagine not writing for those two characters.

Who knows what it’s gonna be, because they can be volatile, but I’m excited about that. I’m excited to go work with everybody. I’m kind of going back to it like it’s a whole different show and I’m going back to join their show now.

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