The Walking Dead: The concept of useless in the apocalypse (a personal essay)

Eugene Porter, The Walking Dead - AMC
Eugene Porter, The Walking Dead - AMC /

We’ve all heard people say that certain characters can die because they are pretty useless and have nothing to contribute to the group anyway. We know that The Walking Dead is a show and needs to be entertaining, but what does it really mean to be useless in the apocalypse?

If there were an apocalyptic situation in real life, let’s say for argument’s sake it’s zombies, does that mean that the people who are built with the skills to fight the threat are the only ones worthy of living in the post -apocalypse?

What does the post-apocalypse mean? Is it a time to survive in order to rebuild eventually? If so, will the new world be made up of only the physically strong or the evil and resourceful?

What does useless mean in the non-apocalyptic world? Is it the same thing? Do we use the same criteria? Is this the reason for depression? Are there quality of life issues in the apocalypse?

Something that would be interesting to see explored more deeply in the future is what we saw with the Vatos. There were old people who needed medicine and protection. If we had those people in Alexandria, what would we do with them? What if Hershel were still alive?

Would they be considered useless? What makes their lives more worthy? Are they more worthy if they have family members alive? Is someone alone less worthy?

Photo Credit: screen capture from AMC's The Walking Dead
Photo Credit: screen capture from AMC’s The Walking Dead /

I have Fibromyalgia and have been thinking a lot lately about my own life. I’m alone now and have fewer people who count on me. Am I useless? Would I be useless in an apocalypse? I used to be very strong and would have been a great zombie killer.

Now I’d need quite a bit of rest between kills. My back and legs and feet would hurt and my fingers would be stiff. The good thing is the walkers might mistake my gait for the undead.

I used to be useful as a teacher. I used to be useful as an aunt, but now my students have other teachers and my nephews and niece are older and busy with school and sports. I’m not a wife or a mom. Would I be expendable?

Is that what Hershel and Deanna were doing when they created jobs for people? Making them feel useful? Giving everyone a purpose so people couldn’t feel like anyone else was useless and expendable?

Olivia, The Walking Dead - AMC
Olivia, The Walking Dead – AMC /

What are the jobs needed in the apocalypse?  What makes Eugene or Gabriel or Olivia seem useless? If the apocalypse happened and your son or daughter or mother was a weak person, how would  it feel to have them be considered useless and not worth protecting or worthy of joining a group because they had nothing to offer.

What if we found out that someone in our group was terminally ill or that flu was still here? Would we start killing people as if they were bitten? Are these the difficult decisions the people have to make until the apocalypse reaches a point where people can start rebuilding and regaining more humanity.

Do we have to lose some humanity in order to get to the place where we can be alive and able to start over and gain it back? Is it the ugly survival of the fittest for a time?

More from Undead Walking

Maybe it is. Maybe I would be useless and sacrificed. Maybe the luxury of it being a non-apocalypse time gives me the freedom to enjoy time on the couch watching The Walking Dead and writing about it and living a slower life. I can see my family and friends when I can. But maybe I’d have to accept my uselessness in an extreme situation of the zombie apocalypse.

Maybe that’s part of what I like about the show. Fighting the idea of losing humanity as time goes by. I’m Tyreese. I want to hold on as long as I can. I want to watch as many good people fight as long as they can and help as many good people hold on as long as possible.

I hope as many useless characters as possible can live as long as possible. Long live the useless!