If you follow me on Facebook it’s no secret I am obsessed with the show The Walking Dead, which is really quite strange considering I hate gory movies of any kind. It isn't the zombies that I’m fascinated with but instead it’s the characters of the show, and the revelation of just how humankind reacts in extreme situations. It’s quite revealing to say the least. We never know what we’re capable of until we’re placed in that situation.
But the characters of this show are so multifaceted and three dimensional that writers should really pay attention.They truly seem to come alive each Sunday night. Each character is flawed and each contributes to the group in some form or another. I won’t name them all but here are some examples of my favorite characters.
Rick Grimes is a small town sheriff who wakes from a coma into an apocalyptic world. It’s really been interesting to watch his transition from a man who still clings to his moral code in an increasingly horrifying world to a leader who must make inhumane choices. He brings a sense of honor to the group and although he loses it temporarily after the death of his wife, the audience still sees him struggle through right and wrong.
Daryl Dixon is an adept survivalist, a biker, and a general redneck. His trek from the unemotional outcast into the binding aspect of the group has been fascinating to say the least. The least likely leader becomes the glue of the group. His survival skills are what has kept the group alive so far but it’s his loyalty to those he loves that’s kept the audience in their seats.
Carol Peletier has the most unique and challenging character arc to date. Carol is a woman whose endured an abusive husband and a mother in the first season, and transitioned into the most hard-core adaptive character in the show. She’s evolved into a strong woman who does what needs to be done.
Hershel Greene offered the group asylum in the second season at his farm and becomes the moral compass of the group. As a recovering alcoholic and a man of faith, he has become the last vestiges of humanity in a frightening chapter of this new life. He has a strong ethical code and his wisdom and experience as a veterinarian has saved the group on numerous occasions.
Now as we near the end of the fourth season I've begun to see that the traits you would normally assume would be needed to survive in the apocalyptic world, aren't always the traits that really contribute to the group. Survival skills can be learned . Most of these characters didn't even know how to shoot a gun in episode one. In fact one of the characters named Andrea didn't even know how to take the safety off her pistol. Interestingly, she learned and became one of the most proficient marksmen by the end of last season. So survival skills are much like writing skills, it’s a muscle you can train and work out once you learn how to do it properly.
But what differentiates between life and death or better yet, sanity versus madness, comes from your own personal character traits. And the list is so long. Each of us have something we can contribute to the group. For example: Morality, faith, comedic relief (you would be surprised how much laughter can heal a tattered soul) caution, confidence, courage. All of these and more can be considered contributions to your group. How about a good listener? How many of us will need that shoulder to lean on? Gentleness. How appreciative of a gentle touch would you be if you were wounded? Clever. We could use some clever, crafty ideas during the apocalypse, right? And while we’d all like to think we’re leaders, let’s face it we’re going to need those who follow directions well. (I have to admit I will be a follower in this make-believe apocalypse honestly. There is no way I would even know what to do should the world collapse.)
I think my greatest contribution would be that I am dutiful. Give me a task to do and it’ll get done. And I’d like to think I’m pretty strong and good nurturer, despite that I can’t cook. But that's a whole different blog post there. So while we’re celebrating excellent character traits for our pretend Pending Apocalypse what trait do you have that would be a huge contribution to your group?