Friday, February 17, 2012

Living, Breathing Characters . . . in a World of the Undead

If I can learn about character development, then I am there. Even if there are zombies. (Okay, especially if there are zombies.) I am a huge fan of the TV show, "The Walking Dead." Partly because I love a good zombie show/movie/book, but mostly because I'm intrigued by how these complex characters survive in a world where right and wrong is no longer black and white.

Take the character of Daryl Dixon (played by Norman Reedus.) Daryl is a cranky, racist redneck who struggles between being a loner and being a part of the group. In one scene, he's wearing a necklace of zombie ears. In another, he's risking his life to save an African-American member of their group. In a recent online article, Reedus says, "Daryl is this guy who needs a hug, but if you try to hug him, he'll try to stab you. He doesn't want to talk about his feelings, but you can tell there's a lot of feelings bottled up."

Former small town sheriff, Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln,) is the "everyman" who struggles with doing the "right" thing in this new world where doing the right thing could get himself, and everyone he cares about, killed. How do you justify that? How do you choose? His best friend and former partner, Shane Walsh (played by Jon Bernthal,) believes there is no longer a choice: you do what you need to do to survive and you take care of your own. That's it. And yet, you can see the struggle, see a little bit of who Shane used to be die each time he goes down that road.

Look at the "walkers" (zombies) themselves. They were once people - neighbors, friends, family. Early in the first season, a man points a gun at what used to be his wife. He knows he should pull the trigger, put her - and himself - out of their misery. But he can't. He still sees his wife in the zombie lurching in front of him. 

Excellent characters can be found anywhere and everywhere. In this case, it's a testament to the writers and the actors: they've created living, breathing people in a made-up world full of the undead.

Are you a fan of the show? Who's your favorite character and why? Who are some of your favorite characters from books/TV/movies? What makes them so vivid, so real to you?


  1. I haven't seen the Walking Dead, but have been intrigued by it and keep meaning to catch up on it. This post makes me more intrigued!

    Have a great weekend, Madeline!

  2. Julie, I watched the first season on DVD and I was hooked. I love watching the changes - both good and bad - in the characters from then to now.

  3. I haven't given The Walking Dead a try yet (mostly because as much as I love zombies in books, I get squeamish watching them on screen!) but I really like your analysis. My most recent TV obsession/lesson in character development is Battlestar Galactica. Every episode is emotionally wrenching because I'm so deeply invested in the characters and their difficult decisions. I can't believe it took my husband so long to talk me into watching it.

    I also stopped by to give you the Kreativ Blogger award, because you can never have too many accolades or lists of random facts, right? :-D

  4. Jillian, there definitely are some "squeamish" moments where I have to peek through my fingers, but it's worth it. :)

    I've heard good things about Battlestar Galactica and will definitely add it to my list.

    Thank you for the award! :)