The Walking Dead. Even if you don’t watch it, you can’t get away from it. Everybody you know can’t shut up about it. What happened to Glenn? Who did Negan kill? Could Daryl be gay? But seriously, you watch The Walking Dead. You know you do. If you’ve been watching since the beginning, you know that most of the cast should have been (un)dead long ago. Sure, it’s the zombie apocalypse, and accidents will happen. But we’ve got to think that some of the more egregious mistakes would be trained out of the cast by now.
As of Season Six though, we’re still seeing some of the same dumbness we did back when Darabont was in charge (that’s Season One, for anyone who got here late). Expect SPOILERS for The Walking Dead here if you’re not caught up.
Here are the 16 Dumbest Mistakes Characters On The Walking Dead Keep Making.
16 Reliance on Unprepared People
There was plenty to love about Alexandria and its residents. But no way should anyone have expected the Anderson family to strut out into a horde of walkers to safety. Even if they believed 100% that being covered in walker gunk would keep them safe. Even if Carol hadn’t scared the ever living hell out of Sam to disguise her own chicanery. Even if Ron wasn’t a spiteful little asshat who never realized that his wife-beating dad was a piece of crap. Even if none of that was the case, a regular family who has barely even seen a walker shouldn’t have been expected to suddenly become as brave as our main survivor group.
That’s not even the fault of the Andersons. Rick should have known better. Ditto for Micchone, Morgan, and Carol. Relying on people to spontaneously pull themselves together just because the situation demands it? Not smart. Sure, we could argue that only the stupid people died. But if we ask him, Carl might say he’d prefer to have his eye back.
15 Not Counting Ammo
To some extent, you can’t blame all the characters for failing to be aware of how much ammo they had. Anyone who lived through Season Two had practically unlimited ammo. So it’s not their fault that showrunner Greg Nicotero eventually started counting their shots. They use a lot of different guns on The Walking Dead. Depending on what’s happening, people lose their guns and get new ones fairly often. Daryl and his crossbow have been separated almost as often as Maggie and her immediate family. If you’ve got a different gun every week, it might make sense that you don’t recall exactly how many bullets it holds. But shouldn’t that be the first thing you commit to memory? Shouldn’t how much ammo you have any time you leave camp be at the forefront of your mind? But no, characters run out of ammo far too often.
And another thing. What’s with the second firing after a dry fire? The gun is out of bullets/shells. What’s the point of squeezing the trigger again? Is it a reflex? Panic? It seems to waste valuable time. Time they should have spent counting the bullets.
14 Being Loud
When Carl famously took out zombie-Shane after his Dad had just killed regular-Shane, it caused a massive horde of walkers to turn their attention to the Greene farm. This in turn led to many deaths—and the leaving behind of Dale’s beloved RV. Inconvenient gun fire is unavoidable sometimes, but the cast of The Walking Dead have certainly been guilty of loud trouncing through foliage, stumbling into their own warning barriers, and even humming or whistling when they think no one else is around.
Sure, the zombie apocalypse is gonna be mind-numbingly boring at times—but making random noise is not the way to go. With the exception of seasoned fighters or law enforcement peeps like Daryl, Rick, or (later) Carol, the cast is pretty big on talking while walking—even when visibility is poor. With that in mind, maybe it’s a blessing when they’re all too hungry, thirsty and tired to speak, since that’s the only thing that can make them stop telling personal stories while walking. These might make the characters feel more interesting, but in reality, all those bits of fun character development would get them killed.
13 Pretending Walkers are Predictable
We’ve all seen zombie movies where someone develops a brilliant idea to keep zombies occupied or out of the way so people can scavenge, move an injured comrade, or do whatever tasks need doing. The sky candy in Land of the Dead leaps to mind. But as happens in every such milieu, the behavior of the undead—either individually or en masse—cannot fully be predicted.
We already know that a single errant gunshot, car horn, or human voice can turn an entire army of walkers in a different direction. Even the Walking Dead staple of covering oneself in zombie gunk as a disguise only works if you keep moving and remain very quiet. Whether they’re called walkers, white walkers, Z’s, lunkheads, chompers, lamebrains, or plain old zombies, their behavior is as unreliable as Bob in a liquor store. The Saviors know it; the Wolves know it. Pretending otherwise is surely a recipe for death.
12 Open Mouth While Dispatching Walkers
Viewers learned early on that in the world of The Walking Dead, everyone is infected with the walker virus. That’s why everyone turns, whether they die from walker bites or a Shane-induced neck-breaking. One might think that there’s no way to get MORE infected, right? If we assume that the virus isn’t mutating or changing in any way (after all, The Walking Dead isn’t Z Nation) then one infection is enough for anyone.
Even so, it seems needlessly risky to always have one’s mouth open when dispatching walkers. Maybe it’s because so much of the blood on The Walking Dead is CGI now, but these characters don’t seem to care at all whether they get a mouthful of walker blood every time they put one down. How many times have we seen Maggie or some Alexandrian wrestling with a zombie, mouth wide open and screaming, while stringy gross walker hair falls in their face, and a serrated knife (more on that later) to the skull looses a torrent of walker juices? Even if it’s not dangerous to swallow walker blood, it’s easily the most disgusting thing we can think of.
11 Food Freshness
Fans, have you ever heard anyone on The Walking Dead say, “Don’t eat that” or “Check the expiration date”? Answer: No. Well, Rick did tell his people not to eat the steaks at Terminus. But that had nothing to do with expiration dates. Our survivors aren’t exactly having cereal with milk or eating cold cuts from a long abandoned deli. But they do seem to eat plenty of questionable food, not only without incident, but without even questioning it.
Sure, it’s a big joke that Twinkies never go bad. But they do. And sooner than you might think. We maintain that the cast is risking their lives every time they fail to seek out an expiration date on food or medicine. Heck, we never even saw them check the date on baby formula. We realize that food is scarce and Twinkies are delicious—a subject amply covered in Zombieland. But not checking whether food is contaminated, chewed on by rats (the most likely survivors of any zombie situation), or otherwise useless should have totally killed someone by now. Then again, we still aren’t exactly sure why everyone got sick at the prison.
One of the most annoying aspects of Seasons 1 and 2 of The Walking Dead was the stupid love triangle between Rick, Shane, and Lori. The dead have risen and are coming to devour the living. Who the hell cares which overblown testosterone machine Lori is bedding down with? The longer Rick stared into the camera, the more we wish Carl had shot Shane much earlier on like he was supposed to. (Apologies to Jon Bernthal. You’re a swell Punisher, man.)
Shane v Rick, Shane v Dale, Rick v the-rest-of-the-group, Carol v Morgan, Merle v Eeveryone, Gabriel v basic human decency. The infighting rarely stops, even though we all know that the undead (and the Wolves, and the Saviors, and the Governor) are the real enemies. You’d think at least the main group would be over all that by now. But no, not so much. Carol will probably still be arguing with Morgan when we see them next.
9 Dressing Like the Enemy
Here's a question most Walking Dead fans have asked themselves at some point: if covering oneself in zombie gunk keeps the walkers away, why don’t they do that every time they go out? Seems reasonable. Let’s think about it. Smelling something terrible puts people in a bad mood. The longer they smell it, the worse the mood gets. Honest. There are studies. Being in a bad mood will eventually lead to infighting, which we just covered.
But there’s more. Dressing in a way that you could be mistaken for walkers, or say, the group that’s attacking Alexandria, is a great way to get shot by your own people. If Nick from Fear the Walking Dead has taught us anything (and we’re not saying he has) it’s that blending in with walkers can get you shot at—if not outright murdered. In fairness, Nick did demonstrate that wearing old man clothes and being covered in blood will disguise the fact that you look just like Johnny Depp. You know, if that’s an issue for you.
8 Waiting too Long to Finish Off Loved Ones
As we covered above, everyone is infected with the coming-back-from-the-dead-to-feast-upon-the-flesh-of-the-living virus. That’s what they call it, right? But yeah, everyone is infected, so everyone comes back. Why then, must we wait for a character to die and then reanimate before they can be taken out by a loved one? Sure, it’s a difficult situation to be in. Nobody wants to find themselves in the position of shooting/stabbing a loved one in the head. But shoot/stab them we must, because nobody wants them to come back as walkers. Waiting for a body to reanimate is dangerous for all the usual reasons. Even if Rick and Daryl are standing by. Even if Bob is tied to a sofa.
There’s one more reason though. Imagine knowing you’re going to die, within minutes. Now imagine knowing that after you go, you’re going to attack and attempt to eat those you love? What would you fervently hope those around you would prevent from happening at all costs? Exactly. So close your eyes and shoot!
7 Wandering Off / Storming Away
Remember Dale Horvath? We wish the people who made The Walking Dead Pop Funko dolls did. Dale was smart, kindly, funny, the even-keeled moral conscience of the group. He had a cool RV and some really great hats. He also died badly. One might say it was the most unfair death on the entire show. In fact, many fans have still not forgiven Greg Nicotero for it. If you hold the walker’s chompers away from you, it’s not supposed to be able to kill you. Shenanigans!
And why did Dale meet this ridiculous end? Because he stormed off into the dark by himself. Going off alone is dangerous enough. Just ask Bob, Andrea, or Carl. But storming off alone when you’re angry and barely paying attention to your surroundings? That can imperil even tough guys like Merle, Shane, Abraham or Eugene—okay we’re kidding about that last one. Stomping away alone like a petulant child has led to a few near misses, but we’ve got to think more than just Dale should have died from it.
6 Arming the Untrustworthy
Ron Anderson, older brother of the cookie-loving Sam, should never have been given a gun. Nobody who has been paying attention disputes this. And yet, how many times was Ron armed by Carl or Rick? Reasonable people may disagree on whether it’s ever okay to arm a child. But once the child threatens to kill a person or two, it seems like common sense not to give them a gun or teach them how to shoot more accurately. Ditto Nicholas. Abraham has had a few moods that should have led to him being grounded from guns for a while. And didn’t Denise arm one of the Wolves at one point? What maniac would arm Merle? Lizzie, the adorable blonde child who lost her ever loving mind used a gun wisely once. The rest of the time? Nope, not at all.
Even deadeye Andrea was occasionally untrustworthy with a gun. Having something to prove can make a person lax about checking targets. On the bright side, Andrea’s errant bullet grazing another character did lead to Dale’s hilarious line, "Don’t be so hard on yourself. We’ve all wanted to shoot Daryl."
5 Improper Attire
Remember the season Glenn spent mostly wearing full riot gear with a helmet and baton and everything? That’s the stuff SWAT teams use when things have been cranked up to 11. That’s a great way to dress if you’ve got access. Riot gear is very hard to bite through. You know what else is hard to bite through? Boots. Waders. A sweatshirt. Thermal Underwear. To a lesser extent, anything that isn’t bare exposed flesh. Who wouldn’t want to sink their teeth into one of Abraham’s biceps? Anyone?
When Herschel took a bite to the ankle, the walker actually moved his pant leg to do that. Many walker related deaths also involve bites to the neck, or an exposed arm. So why expose any part of your body that isn’t necessary? If ever the full burqa was going to sweep America as a fashion trend—the zombie apocalypse would be an ideal time. Why? Because any clothing that covers your biteable parts is better than leaving them out in the open. Also, they’re in the south. Surely the mosquitoes must be insane. Nobody wants to deal with walkers AND Zika.
4 Serrated Knives in Skulls
Guns are tricky weapons when dealing with walkers. They require practice and skill. They have moving parts and are therefore prone to jamming or breakage. You need ammo to use them. They make a lot of noise. Blades, on the other hand, are quiet. They don’t require reloading. It should last a long while between sharpenings even with heavy use. So what’s the problem?
Our friendly survivors are in the habit of stabbing the undead in the skull as a means of dispatching them. Ever try to stab a coconut with a kitchen knife? How about a camping knife? It’s hard. It’s also extra difficult to stab something that’s more or less round. The biggest problem though, is that for this to work, your blade needs to be perfectly smooth. Most of the blades on The Walking Dead are not, which means they’re likely to get stuck in the skull. Losing your knife mid horde-battle could be a death sentence, even when you’re in a group.
3 Who is on the Away Team?
Sometimes it’s easy to tell who isn’t going to make it back from an away mission. This is when Star Trek tropes are trotted out the most—hence the term “away mission.” Why? Because the concept of Redshirts (people we know going in are expendable and whose deaths only add credence to the idea that our heroes are in danger) is rampant on The Walking Dead.
Just as we knew that the Anderson family was in no way equipped to waltz out of Alexandria safely, Glenn should have known not to bring that lying creep Nicholas on a mission. Nicholas was responsible for the death of the adorable Noah, and he'd contributed to several other deaths as well. When he got home safely, he even had the gall to lie and say Glenn was the careless, cowardly one. It’s amazing more people haven’t died because the group decided to trust someone who didn’t remotely deserve it.
Pro-tip: Just because somebody says they’re trustworthy, or alone, or the only scientist who can save the world—do a little research before deciding to take their word for it.
2 Splitting up
When all hell breaks loose, people may get separated through no fault of their own. Other times though, splitting up can totally be avoided. If you and your core group are separating into smaller groups on purpose—whether it’s to cover more ground, or to get a better look at [place/person]—stop. For goodness sake, stop and think about what you’re doing. Do you have a place to meet up when it all goes sour? What if you see other living people? What if you’re on a mission to murder another group and someone decides to fight back? What if you’re Carol, and you just can’t stop separating yourself from the group, necessitating people to come after you?
There is safety in numbers. Stubbing your toe badly enough can kill you if you’re alone and outmatched. As far as we’re concerned, Carol, Carl, Shane, Enid, Sasha, and Lori were all taking their lives in their hands when they separated themselves from the group. All of them knew someone would come looking for them, yet only some of them are dead now.
1 Gun in Melee Range
This is something people do in many genres, not just The Walking Dead. But the characters on the show do it. A lot. Far more than people like Daryl, Rick, or Abraham should. Having a gun in melee range—by which we mean holding a gun on someone to intimidate them—while standing close enough that they could easily take it from you if they catch you off guard. Used judiciously, a gun can be a persuasive tool. It may inspire someone to keep their distance, to do or not do something serious, to give up information, or just to let them know who’s boss.
But if you’re too close, your precious weapon can be knocked out of your hand, taken, or even pointed at you while you’re still holding it. A gun is only a useful tool if you’re the one using it. Once it gets away from you, you might end up feeling very silly you brought a gun to a Lucille fight in the first place.
Think we’re way off? Feeling positive that the cast of The Walking Dead never make a mistake? Tell us why in the comments!