The Walking Dead Season 7 puts a spotlight on strong female characters

Kathy (Nicole Barre), Beatrice (Briana Venkus), and Tara Chambler (Alanna Masterson) in S7E6Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC, The Walking Dead
Kathy (Nicole Barre), Beatrice (Briana Venkus), and Tara Chambler (Alanna Masterson) in S7E6Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC, The Walking Dead /

Women on The Walking Dead are far more than scream queens or damsels in distress needing saving. TWD leads genre TV in writing strong female roles.

This season The Walking Dead is going through a lot of changes as it builds a larger world for the survivors. One of the positive changes emerging from the expanding story lines is that the women of The Walking Dead really get to shine.

Glenn’s death was a terrible blow. But his death is going to inspire Maggie to become a strong leader. Abe’s death is going to inspire Sasha to become the kind of one woman security force any settlement would want to have.

Carol has faded into the background a bit this season. But her possum act at Kingdom and her real talk with King Ezekiel prove that Carol isn’t out for the count. She doesn’t know yet what has happened to the group or that Daryl is being held captive by the Saviors.

It’s safe to assume that once she finds out what’s been going on there’s going to be some serious repercussions for Negan and the Saviors. When Negan does fall the women of The Walking Dead are going to play a large role in the end of his reign.

Secondary Characters Finally Get a Focus

Tara and Rosita have been mostly background characters for the last couple seasons. But now they are stepping into their own distinct story arcs that will give them a bigger purpose in the group. For the last few seasons Michonne and Carol have been the standout female characters. But now as the world grows the minor characters finally get some screen time.

Kathy (Nicole Barre), Beatrice (Briana Venkus), and Tara Chambler (Alanna Masterson) in S7E6 Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC, The Walking Dead
Kathy (Nicole Barre), Beatrice (Briana Venkus), and Tara Chambler (Alanna Masterson) in S7E6Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC, The Walking Dead /

“Swear” was Tara’s first major episode since Glenn saved her at the prison in Season 4. It showed the immense growth that Tara has gone through over the seasons. Tara at first was a timid character that seemed relatively unskilled in the survival skills needed for the post-apocalypse world. But 3 seasons later she can handle just about anything.

Rosita may not have been with Abe when he was killed but she still loved him. And Rosita is stepping out of the shadows to emerge as another strong female character. She has a plan to take Negan down and avenge Glenn and Abe. It will be exciting to see how Rosita develops now that she has the chance to step up and have a larger role within the group.

No Scream Queens In The Apocalypse

The Walking Dead has managed to do what no other genre show has managed to do when it comes to writing female roles. The women of The Walking Dead aren’t damsels in distress that need saving. They’re not one note warrior archetypes either.

Many genre shows have trouble writing roles for women that don’t either become complete stereotypes or fall flat as one note tropes. But The Walking Dead consistently creates roles for women that are complex and interesting. The women are just as adept at killing walkers and providing security as the men are.

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In the early seasons there was a clear division of labor along gender lines, but over time those divisions have broken down and disappeared. As the show has evolved the characters have evolved too.

A Larger World For Women

In several of Team Family’s run ins with the Saviors there have been women fighters in the ranks. So it appears that Negan doesn’t enforce gender roles either. The experience that Carol and Maggie had with the female Saviors shows that in Negan’s cult of followers women can be just as strong, ruthless and deadly as men can be.

With Maggie and Sasha running Hilltop Colony, Carol advising King Ezekiel at Kingdom, and Michonne, Rosita, and Tara fighting for Alexandria it’s clear that women are going to play even bigger roles in the larger world that is emerging. In Season 8 the group may even come across the first female villain so far, Alpha, the head of The Whisperers.

Next: A look at Maggie's time at The Hilltop

Hopefully the smart, complex, multi-layered female characters that populate The Walking Dead will start to show up in other genre shows.