The CW’s ‘Walker’ is a thrilling crime action series that follows the story of an enigmatic Texas Ranger named Cordell Walker. A reboot of the popular 1990s show ‘Walker, Texas Ranger,’ this neo-Western drama explores the trials and tribulations of Walker’s life after the murder of his wife Emily. Jam-packed with difficult children, debilitating emotional traumas, and dangerous criminals, the show is a heady mix of crime, action, and familial drama.
‘Walker’ received both appreciation for its fresh take on the original source material as well as criticism for its jumbled genre approach. However, fans agree that the emotional troubles the show explores hit home, with Jared Padalecki (‘Supernatural‘) convincingly portraying the inner struggles of Walker as he deals with his children and career. Naturally, some wonder whether the show draws inspiration from real-life personas and incidents. Let’s dive right in and look at whether ‘Walker’ is based on a true story.
Is Walker a True Story?
No, ‘Walker’ is not based on a true story. The crime show derives its material from the Chuck Norris-starrer ‘Walker, Texas Ranger,’ one of the most iconic neo Western television dramas of all time. Additionally, ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ itself is based on the 1983 Western film ‘Lone Wolf McQuade,’ which also sees Norris as the protagonist.
‘Lone Wolf McQuade’ is primarily an action film, emphasizing the good-guy-beats-bad-guy trope with El Paso as the backdrop. The show ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ too follows in its footsteps, immortalizing Norris’ Walker as the ideal crime-fighting, morally sound, and traditionally masculine hero. The series, which ran for eight seasons, also spawned a movie titled ‘Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire.’ The stories in both the film and the television series are fictional, albeit highly entertaining.
‘Walker’ deviates from its predecessors, and perhaps attains its realism, through its shunning of the trope of the constantly surefooted hero who sees violence against the enemies as the morally right path and his own traditional masculinity as the ultimate indicator of his duty. Padalecki’s Walker is a badass but possesses an emotional depth that Norris’ Walker probably does not because of the demands of the 1990s milieu.
Additionally, The CW show’s exploration of both personal and professional dynamics adds to its charm. It allows other characters to blossom even whilst Walker holds the focal point. The character of Micki Ramirez (Lindsey Morgan) allows for a rare representation of the numerous women and minorities who serve in the Texas Ranger Division. “I love that my character is placed in a position of these two worlds and these two kind of warring communities, but hoping to be a liaison and hoping that we can tell a story of tolerance and a story from two perspectives,” said Morgan, talking about her character’s Mexican identity against the backdrop of a largely Caucasian law enforcement team.
‘Walker’ is also acutely aware of the current socio-political scenario, especially the Black Lives Matter Movement and issues pertaining to the U.S.-Mexico border. Padalecki emphasized how Walker’s internal struggle between his duty and his morality draws from a real-life instance involving a Texan law enforcement agent.
Padalecki explained, “I was reading an op-ed from a law enforcement agent in Texas about how they were bound by duty and how they had to obey the law, but they just couldn’t bring themselves to put a 3-year-old in a cage. People talk all the time about how a coin has two sides. But in reality, a coin has three sides: there’s heads, tails, and the edge.”
Certainly, Walker’s character ponders over what’s right and what the job demands. “So we wanted to find that edge, that gray area, and really lean into it about somebody who takes their job very seriously, who risked their life to make others’ lives safer, but also still has a deep moral code,” Padalecki added.
‘Walker’ thus leans more into a law enforcement agent’s struggles with family, work, trauma, and vengeance, turning the crime-fighting aspect that dominated its source material as the backdrop instead. “We developed the show before the pandemic and things came to a fever pitch between our communities and our law enforcement in different parts of the country. And America doesn’t really have a big appetite right now for tall, white, straight law-enforcement agents roundhouse kicking minorities in the face — and nor did we, so that lined up,” said Padalecki. “We’re more interested in these stories of a parent or a human being who find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
Despite its fictional premise, ‘Walker’ thus touches upon relevant issues of our time. “This version of ‘Walker,’ we play with the gray area: This is not a show about a martial artist kicking minorities in the face; this is a show about a legit Texan saying, ‘Hey, I need to hear the whole story before I make a decision’,” stated Padalecki. Shows like ‘Yellowstone,’ ‘Hell On Wheels,’ ‘Longmire,’ ‘Deadwood,’ and ‘The Ranch’ also combine the genre of neo-Western drama with the complications of interpersonal interactions.
‘Walker’ may not be based on a true story, but it is a commendable effort to update an old source material by keeping in mind the zeitgeist of the 21st Century. By adding more realistic dimensions to the titular protagonist, the show empathizes with the Texas Rangers and attempts to do justice to all law enforcers juggling duty and morality.
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