For The Walking Dead, character-driven storytelling is its greatest strength, but also its most glaring weakness. Having such a large cast means the show has to rely on audiences enjoying the people they see on-screen, and for many cast members, it doesn’t always work out.
The show has met its fair share of criticism, often for some lame character choices. It has become infamous for “filler episodes” that focus on uninteresting characters doing uninteresting things, or previously beloved characters acting uncharacteristically boring.
These characters (and by extension, these episodes) hurt the pacing and narrative of the show, and sometimes it hard to justify their presence at all. Luckily, The Walking Dead has a fix for these character issues. If somebody just isn’t working out, they can easily be killed off — usually in some of the most brutal and gory ways.
This list will look at the most unjustifiable presences on the show to see if they’re worth keeping alive, and what kept them breathing in the first place. The entries will explore characters who are still living, and will even draw from comic book events for some extra context. Some of your favorites might deserve the axe, so be prepared.
Here are 15 Walking Dead Characters We Can’t Believe Aren’t Dead Yet.
15. Carl Grimes
The show’s depiction of Carl hasn’t always earned him the most love from fans. There are way more bland and useless characters in the series, but Carl — for whatever reason — is not well liked.
Does he deserve to be killed off? Well, maybe deserve is the wrong word. He provides an important perspective that the other characters cannot offer. What is it like to grow up in a zombie infested world, to know nothing else but a life of morally gray self-preservation? Who cares. The kid has gotten lucky way too often.
He’s prone to behaving recklessly and he’s been shot twice— once in the face, of all places. It would be great for the show to try and explore those lofty themes every once and a while, but let’s be real: he’s written as a hot-headed, angsty teen.
A better solution might lie in improving his characterization, but since he’s been little more than a nuisance for the past few seasons, it might be time for Carl to bite the bullet—for real, this time.
14. Carol Peletier
Carol is probably the toughest character in the entire show, and is much more likeable than she was in the comics. Her journey from dependent widow to survival expert to merciless killer makes her one of the most fleshed-out characters in the series. Sadly, there isn’t much keeping her alive on the show nowadays. Comic fans know that Carol doesn’t survive the conflict with the Governor, and even though her TV counterpart is very different, her arc seems to have hit a standstill.
Over the last few seasons, Carol’s ruthlessness has caught up with her. Currently, she wants to live as a hermit — which is silly, given that she is a valuable asset to Alexandria, which desperately needs her help.
So why hasn’t she already been killed off? She spent the last season doing almost nothing of importance, and her murderer-to-recluse story arc is really dragging. It’s likely that she’ll join the real fight this upcoming season, but her arc is long overdue some kind of resolution.
13. Morgan Jones
Similar to Carol, Morgan’s story arc has become dramatically slower and boring. Morgan’s role has been expanded in the show, as the comic book series only brought him back for a short time after his first appearance. Morgan would have died when the “Wolves” attacked Alexandria, but his presence during the war with the Saviors seems unnecessary. His existence only serves to juxtapose with Carol’s, as they go through opposite transitions of moral values.
Carol’s arc, from peaceful, to violent, to peaceful, is inverted for Morgan. From a vicious killer, to serene sensei, to someone who is yet again adopting violence, Morgan’s character arc has arguably lasted longer than Carol’s, taking him several seasons to truly find himself— but it’s been long enough.
12. Judith Grimes
She’s a baby in a zombie-world, and a survival liability. Sure, she’s adorable when she plays with her solo cups, but honestly though, how is she even alive? Who is always watching her? Is there a rotating babysitter schedule? The logistics of taking care of a baby are only made more stressful with the presence of zombies.
In the comics, Judith does not survive the attack on the prison and dies a gruesome death, leading Rick and Carl to a very emotional journey through the wilderness. This was teased back in the fourth season, but ultimately Tyreese kept her alive.
Perhaps AMC is above baby-murder on national television, but the show isn’t exactly above cheap shock value. Regardless, it’s amazing she has survived this far. Maybe she’ll actually grow up to be a full-fledged character, and not a glorified prop. Good luck, Judith!
11. Tara Chambler
A made-for-TV character introduced in the fourth season, Tara was a plucky, good-natured ally to the Governor, and eventually to Glenn and the gang.
She acts as comic relief, was once in a relationship with the town doctor, and is generally the group’s voice of optimism. Comedy, love, and happiness tend to be red flags as far as the series goes, and so it’s a surprise to see that she has not yet been mercilessly torn apart by flesh-eaters.
While her character is quite likeable, she’s often given very little to do — other than last season’s episode “Swear”, where she met another group of unmemorable characters.
It’s a shame that an original character can come off so bland, but it’s something this show struggles with quite often. For her upbeat attitude and lack of any important duties other than one recent filler episode, Tara ranks here. Hopefully she receives some meaningful character development in the future.
Do you even remember Heath? For whatever reason, this largely unused character was given one of the only real cliffhangers of last season. He accompanied Tara on her supply run before they were separated. The episode focused on Tara, while Heath was nowhere to be found. Had this been a more engaging episode or dealt with compelling characters, audiences might have actually cared.
This character is little more than a glorified extra, and putting a glorified extra in danger on a show where extras constantly die doesn’t illicit any emotional response. If the show had no real plans for the comic character, they could have easily killed him prior to the cliffhanger. For whatever reason, they didn’t, but his return has been confirmed.
9. Eugene Porter
Here’s another case of an interesting character who has been stuck in the same arc for way too long. Eugene is a resourceful genius who just can’t bring himself to face a walker. He has his moments of bravery and is a true asset to the gang, but even with valuable opportunities (like poisoning Negan), he manages to flake.
Self-preservation is a justifiable motive for his actions, but seriously— Eugene has to step up, and not just for the narrative. His constant flip-flopping of courage and cowardliness is getting boring and repetitive.
In the comics, Eugene plays a pretty large role in the cast, but never ends up on Negan’s side out of fear. That alone makes his living status such a shock. If he doesn’t have his moment to shine anytime soon, his arc will likely have an unsatisfying, anticlimactic end.
Negan’s most trusted lieutenant has been a secondary antagonist for almost two years, but his presence is getting tiresome. Steven Ogg (known for his motion-capture role as Trevor in Grand Theft Auto V) is a talented character actor who is fun to watch on screen. However, now that the conflict with Negan is front-and-center, we don’t want to see Simon. We want to see Negan… Stop taking screen time away from Negan!
Simon will either meet a gruesome death or further overstay his welcome, but the fact that he is still getting so much screen time is disappointing. Steven Ogg: you’re great… but Negan is much cooler. We don’t want your character to die, or for you to lose your job, but if that gives us more Negan — well, surely you understand, right?
You might not even remember this guy’s name, but he’s been around a long time. This native Alexandrian was introduced back in season five as foreman of the town’s construction team.
Since then, Tobin’s been relegated to the background, with a few appearances and lines here and there. He’s been a helpful member of the group and consistently loyal to Rick’s leadership. He’s also had a brief romantic relationship with Carol before she decided to abandon Alexandria.
There’s nothing wrong with Tobin, but nothing particularly interesting either. The fact that he’s been such a supportive, good-natured character makes him obvious walker-bait, but he’s survived this long. Honestly, we would be sad to see a lawfully good character bite it, but it wouldn’t exactly come as a surprise.
How has this bumbling leader avoided getting himself killed? Comic fans know that Gregory still has a role to play in The Walking Dead, specifically in Maggie’s arc as a fledgling leader. Regardless of that, this coward has somehow been in charge of Hilltop without incident for many years. Nowadays, Maggie is the defacto leader of the settlement and its people seem to have her back, so Gregory better watch his own.
Clearly his days are numbered, but how hasn’t anybody deposed and killed this guy yet? He’s a weak leader and a liability to his people’s safety. It’s amazing that the folks at Hilltop have put up with him for so long — but who knows for how much longer, now that Maggie is in charge.
5. Father Gabriel Stokes
Gabriel started out as the group’s cowardly heel, but he has slowly grown into a trustworthy ally. Now a hardened, loyal resident of Alexandria and unafraid of combat, Gabriel is proud to stand beside Rick at the forefront of the Savior war.
Before his newfound courage, though, it made little sense for the group to keep him around. For quite some time, Gabriel was no use to the group’s survival and his unjustified self-righteousness made him downright unbearable.
If it weren’t for temporary shelter in the form of Gabriel’s church, the gang probably would have dropped him. After all, they were pretty cutthroat at the time. Thankfully, Father Gabriel has begun to win people over. If Rick trusts him enough to take care of Judith, then maybe he’s a valuable asset after all. It’s just a surprise that he’s lasted this long.
Eric is a minor character that really only serves to motivate his significant other, Aaron.
Aaron is one of the most active members of the Alexandria community, and an asset to the war effort. Eric, on the other hand, has had little character development and even less screen time. We have nothing against the guy, but it seems like the The Walking Dead’s tendency to kill off love interests has managed to miss him.
Wouldn’t it make total sense to kill Eric? Perhaps to motivate Aaron; to make him jaded, or to give him some vengeance-related story arc? That might be a bit cynical, but it wouldn’t feel out of place on a show where love interests often meet some brutal demise. We would wish Eric the best, but he’s likely going to die soon anyway.
3. Rosita Espinosa
This capable comic book character has been turned into a reckless, hot-headed caricature on television. Rosita’s impulsive behavior has repeatedly put herself and the gang in danger, and it’s a shock that she’s managed to survive her own blunders. Recently, she’s refused to give Eugene a break, somehow missed Negan despite shooting at him point-blank, and indirectly caused the death of native Alexandrian resident, Olivia.
Rosita might be a skilled and strong member of the group, but lately she’s little more than a liability. She’s lucky that Negan decided not to kill her on the spot — she did put a hole in Lucille, and we all know how attached he is to that baseball bat.
Maybe she’ll rein in her anger and learn to keep a level-head, but until then, her days are numbered. Hopefully she lives long enough to forgive Eugene, and give him the hug the clearly (and desperately) needs.
2. Daryl Dixon
Hold on, don’t reach for your pitchforks just yet. Hear us out.
Look, clearly Daryl is a fan-favorite. He’s practically the television show’s mascot. His look, outfit, crossbow, motorcycle, and even his lines have become Walking Dead iconography. Everybody seems to love him – but does that make him worth keeping around?
In narrative context, he hasn’t done much in the last few years. He’s established a rivalry with Dwight, and maintains a waning relationship with Carol. He might be Rick’s right-hand man, but he isn’t much more.
He’s become an uninteresting character and has undergone very little development in recent years. Other than the typical “Daryl episode” where he does something on his own, he doesn’t add much to the cast’s dynamic like he used to. Not to mention it was his fault that Glenn was killed, and he hasn’t redeemed himself in the slightest.
Daryl Dixon is too financially valuable to AMC and The Walking Dead brand to die, but he should have bit the dust a long time ago.
1. Oceanside/Junkyard Characters
Their names are don’t matter, and neither do they. Just like the nursing home from season one and Grady Memorial Hospital from season five, these made-for-TV additions to The Walking Dead serve no purpose other than to pad out the series’ run-time — and if you’ve forgotten those first two examples, it only proves our point.
For those who have forgotten, Oceanside is the all-female community discovered by Tara. An entire episode was devoted to them, and their only narrative relevance was that they had guns, while Rick and the gang didn’t. Predictably, when Tara eventually informs Rick of their stocked armory, the gang goes to rob them almost half a season later. This wouldn’t have been necessary if it weren’t for the subplot of the Saviors disarming Alexandria, but the show loves its filler.
The Junkyard characters waste even more screen time. Rick makes a poorly thought-out alliance with them, which leads to several appearances. They appear to side with Rick against the Saviors — until they show up in Alexandria with Negan for a dramatic betrayal. They hold the entire gang at gunpoint, but are somehow too incompetent to do any real damage as the group fights them off. Their conflict with the main characters wraps up in seconds, and it makes their presence feel completely unjustified.
These pointless TV characters could go at any point, and we still wouldn’t care enough to know their names. Stick to the comics, AMC!
What other characters have overstayed their welcome? There are dozens more to choose from, and surely lots of them won’t last this upcoming season.
Season eight of The Walking Dead airs Sundays @ 8PM on AMC.
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