Characters on The Walking Dead are treated to some of the biggest fandom in the world. What stage of a character’s story do you find most compelling?
I recently saw a photo from The Walking Dead season 2 where Glenn, Rick, and Hershel are trying to escape the nefarious gang associated with Phil and Tony. Glenn is visibly shaken but acts bravely following Rick’s instructions.
I felt a sense of nostalgia. I was reminded of how much I enjoyed watching Glenn come into his own during season 2. I recalled how exciting it was to see characters grow and transform in early seasons.
Many of my favorites are extremely capable at the current stage in The Walking Dead universe. I began to think about the different stages of a character’s journey on the series. When do I typically get the most excited about a character’s story?
My first thought is that I enjoy periods of character growth the best. But let’s take a look at some examples and consider what draws us to the stories of these fictional friends (or perhaps, enemies).
As it was with Michonne, it can be very exciting to meet a brand new character. It is especially intriguing when their story has an air of mystery to it.
When we first meet Michonne, we do not know her name. She is a mysterious cloaked figure with a hood keeping her face hidden from view. Michonne impressively rescues Andrea with a swift pass of her katana.
Watching a character change and transform can also be very exciting.
Carol Peletier has indeed been through one of the biggest and ongoing transformations in The Walking Dead. Carol is most certainly a fan favorite. But when did fans fall in love with her? She surprises us early on by revealing a grenade in her purse in the season 1 finale.
Carol transforms from a meek abused wife to strong capable fighter. But this transformation is not a one-way ticket. We have also seen Carol struggle with her own transformation. She tries a more peaceful approach in seasons 6 and 7 before finally agreeing to join the fight against Negan.
Watching characters form bonds of friendship, family, and romance can be fascinating.
Sometimes it is an unlikely pairing that catches us off guard. Who would have thought Tyreese would end up briefly caring for 3 young girls on his own? Or that Abraham would be Sasha’s great love.
Other times it is friendship that turns romantic as we see with Rick and Michonne.
Some relationships are epic and enduring like Glenn and Maggie, even after Glenn is gone.
And sometimes, it is the sparring between “frenemies” like Rick and Shane that captivates our interest on-screen.
I definitely enjoy a good redemption story. Let’s talk about Merle Dixon.
Merle antagonizes the group, saying deplorable things to T-Dog and Andrea. He kidnaps Glenn and Maggie and takes them to Woodbury where they are tortured emotionally and physically. He tries to persuade his brother Daryl to leave the prison group. He agrees to deliver Michonne to the Governor.
But in the end, he has a change of heart. Merle lets Michonne go. He makes a valiant but failed effort to take out the Governor in hopes of saving the prison group.
Just when we see Merle making a change for the better, he is gone.
To this day, ‘This Sorrowful Life’ continues to be what I consider one of the most impactful episodes of the series.
Should they fall
What about when a character disappoints us?
Consider Eugene Porter. We learn that he is a coward. But we see glimpses of heroism when he carries an injured Tara to safety at the warehouse. Then he chooses the Saviors’ compound over returning to Alexandria.
Eugene indeed seems to be self-serving. He waffles. We continue to wonder which side he will end up on.
He makes us think about choices we might make ourselves. Even characters that disappoint us get us talking.
There have been many notable deaths on The Walking Dead. Have you ever found yourself even more fond of a character after they are gone?
Walker Stalker Con claims that actors whose characters have recently died on the show have particularly long lines at events.
When a character dies, it is natural to become very nostalgic about their time on the show. We want to reminisce about their journey. It is a time of reflection. We may recall memories of the character we had forgotten.
The thought of losing Carl in the mid-season premiere is daunting. I am certainly not ready. Yet I am anxious to see how the other characters respond.
Loss can generate drama long after the character leaves us.
There are certainly many aspects of a character’s journey that engage us. I found myself wondering if I am not as inspired now that so many of our characters are capable fighters.
Of course, it is exciting to see someone rise to the occasion and transform into a seasoned warrior. But even once they have mastered the art of dispatching walkers, they are challenged in a variety of other ways.
Consider the different stages of a character’s life-cycle on The Walking Dead and share your favorites. What are some other stages that captivate your interest?