Unlike other shows on television, The Walking Dead’s cast has to deal with survival and in their world, death happens. But how much death of original characters is too much?
The Walking Dead is in its eighth season, with a ninth season already in the works. Unlike a long-lived show like Friends, Modern Family or even Seinfeld, where characters change with their changing life situations, The Walking Dead’s characters have to deal with surviving in a post-apocalyptic world where zombies, the elements, illness and other people are all trying to kill you. Over the course of eight seasons The Walking Dead has seen many characters come and go, and the trend isn’t stopping any time soon.
Carl Grimes’ impending death is the most shocking death on the show since Negan bashed Glenn’s head in during the season 7 premiere. Like Carl, Glenn was one of the show’s original characters and losing him changed the entire vibe. Carl’s death will be even more impactful given that the survivors are in the middle of All Out War and Carl was supposed to be one of the people who made it out alive. As a young man, Carl represents hope for the future. Losing him is a major blow on multiple levels.
In the January 19, 2018 issue of Entertainment Weekly, Norman Reedus notes that losing too many original characters will change the fabric of the show. “If you wanted to turn it into a totally different show, you get rid of those people. But if you want to hold on to what made the show special, you’ve got to be very careful what you do with those people.”
This brings us to an impasse: How do you keep characters alive in the middle of the fight to survive, and make it believable? Remember when Carl and Rick thought Judith had died at the prison, only to reunite with her later? Nice moment, but not exactly believable, right? And how many times has Carol made it out alive when it looked like the odds were stacked against her?
Here’s the thing – Monica and Kramer were never at risk of being eaten by zombies. Shows like Friends and Seinfeld didn’t kill off characters because that wouldn’t make any sense. Grey’s Anatomy kills off characters left and right, but that’s a ratings ploy, clearly, because there’s no way it’s realistic that a single hospital in Seattle could be so incredibly unlucky.
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But when you’re living in the zombie apocalypse, death happens. It’s going to continue to happen so long as the show continues. And while we’d like to think that our favorite characters are immune, the fact is that no one is immune to the apocalypse.