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“The Walking Dead” Television Series Essay


The Plot of the Television Series and Major Conflicts

The Walking Dead is one of the most successful television series of the 2010s. The television series is set in an apocalyptic world where people have turned into zombies. Rick, the show’s main character, is a sheriff who wakes up from a coma only to discover half of a corpse that moves and tries to kill him (“Days Gone Bye”). Rick learns some information about these so-called “walkers” from other survivors. Rick decides to go further to find his family, while other survivors prefer to stay where they are (“Days Gone Bye”).

Rick is lucky to find his wife and child living in a camp of survivors in which a man named Shane is trying to be the leader (“Tell It to the Frogs”). After many fights with the walkers, Rick and the people who believe in him travel to a CDC facility, where they hope to find a cure or, at the very least, shelter and some answers. However, they are forced to leave the facility as it will self-destruct once it runs out of power (“TS-19”). Thus, Rick and his followers have to move on in their search for a safe place and a possible cure.

In general, films and shows about zombies tend to focus on living because the zombies are unable to speak, feel, or even think (Stanley par. 8). Therefore, the major conflicts always take place between the survivors. In The Walking Dead, the filmmakers tried to choose a relatable actor for the role of Rick, making him an everyman (Patterson par. 5). It is possible to single out at least three main conflicts in the television series.

The major conflict is, of course, between the living people and the walking dead. However, there is also a significant conflict between Rick and Shane, both of whom want to lead the group of survivors. Another common element in films and television shows, a love triangle also provides an important conflict between the main characters. The triangle involves Rick, Lori, and Shane. Rick and Lori are married couples loving each other. However, Lori thinking that Rick is dead starts a sexual relationship with Shane who (seemingly) loves her. When Rick reunites with the family, Lori is back with Rick leaving Shane to suffer.

Major Characters’ Characteristics

Because the characters of The Walking Dead live in a post-apocalyptic world, their current roles in society and their habits somewhat differ from their past lives. However, it is still possible to identify some major traits of the main characters as shown in Table 1 (see Appendix 1). Although the characters choose comfortable clothes that are available to them, they still carry some items that characterize them in certain ways.

Rick and His Dress

The protagonist of The Walking Dead, Rick is a man in his mid-30s. Before the apocalypse, Rick is already in uniform as a sheriff: a hat, shirt, trousers, and weapons. This dress gives the first impression of Rick as a strong, courageous man who is often ready to help people and restore justice if necessary. Moreover, when he recovers from the coma, he is wearing his uniform and continues to wear it for a large part of the season. In this way, it is clear that the man does not change, and the viewer’s first impression persists. His dress helps emphasize that Rick is the good guy who will protect others, will help them survive, and may even lead them to some cure or a safe haven.

Some personal objects serve to provide more information about Rick and his personality and feelings. First of all, he never takes off his wedding ring. This shows his feelings and his commitment to being with his beloved wife, no matter what. He is ready to forgive her for her relationship with his best friend, which would be a serious problem for many other people. This idea is supported by Rick’s words as he says, “Baby, we’ve got the second chance” (“Tell It to the Frogs”). When she mentions that she is sorry for everything and that she recognizes her mistake, he simply kisses her.

Thus, he shows that she is forgiven and understood. Another important item that helps the viewer understand Rick better is his watch. This accessory shows that he always wants to keep track of time, which seems quite ridiculous under the existing circumstances as there can be no order in the world of zombies. In this way, it is possible to note that Rick seeks precision and accuracy. Although he never actually speaks about this item or his attitude towards time, it is clear that he always makes choices based on an analysis of accurate data.

Building a Character from Scratch

Samantha Gregson, also known as Sam, could be a new character who would appear in the last episode of the season. She would be a reporter who knows about the origins of the plague that humanity had to face. However, the specifics of this information would not be revealed in the season (Kung par. 6). Sam discovered the truth when she interviewed a scientist who worked on the elixir of life. Shortly before the first walkers appeared, she learned about the secret laboratories where the substance was developed, but she did not have time to tell the world about it. Sam is a woman in her late 30s who is smart and has a degree in biology. She is courageous, curious, accurate, careful, and strong.

She is in a good physical shape due to her intensive training in karate. She is also a good shooter, as she comes from a military family (her parents served in the army). She wants to find a cure and help people recover from this plague. This character would add a number of conflicts to the show. First, she would bring hope that it can all end, even though some people might still try to remain in their comfort zones—if that is even possible under the circumstances. Moreover, Sam could instigate a love triangle between Rick, Lori, and herself. Sam could be in love with Rick, forcing Lori to struggle for Rick’s affection. Sarah Michelle Gellar would be the perfect choice of actor for this character.

In this role, Sam would wear a pair of jeans, a top, and a leather or denim jacket (see Appendix 2). These items would be able to endure a lot of fighting, which is important for a survivor in the world of zombies. She has long fair hair and carries a small rucksack under her jacket. This rucksack keeps all of Sam’s most important things, including some documents and one item (or rather a set of items) that serve as her differentiating features. She would always have crimson lipstick on her lips, noting that she is alive as long as her lips are bright. This character would add beauty and more of a feminine element to the television series. All the items could be worn for a year and could be easily scavenged, if necessary.

The Walking Dead can be regarded as an example of stereotypes and their role in both society and cinematography. First of all, filmmakers always try to make their characters more appealing to the viewers. In this case, the characters are ordinary people who wear casual clothes and are simply trying to survive. Moreover, in this television series, the significance of a uniform is shown. Although the main character wears a uniform because he has nothing else, it also seems that the uniform is a shield and symbol of order. The filmmakers stress that zombies wear deteriorating casual clothes, just as their bodies and minds also deteriorate rapidly. It is clear that clothes play an important role in films as these items help filmmakers convey certain ideas, make viewers think in a specific way, and create the necessary atmosphere.

Appendix 1

Table 1

Main Characters’ Features

Name Age & Gender Job & Income Personality Traits Dress
Rick Grimes male / mid-30s Sheriff / middle class Strong, decisive, courageous, ready to help, compassionate, a leader.
  • a shirt
  • a pair of trousers (available in the new world)
  • short, curly, fair hair
  • a beard
  • a watch
  • a wedding ring
Shane Walsh male / mid-30s Sheriff’s deputy / middle class Strong, decisive, assertive, can be excessively violent, wants to be a leader. He is mainly shown with weapons. He has
  • short, curly, dark hair,
  • a beard,
  • a shirt,
  • a pair of trousers.
Lori Grimes Female / mid-30s Rick’s wife Strong, compassionate, kind, ready to help.
  • long dark hair
  • earrings
  • a necklace
  • a top
  • a pair of trousers
Carl Grimes male / 7 Rick’s son Strong, courageous, compassionate, kind, ready to help.
  • short fair hair
  • a hat
  • a T-shirt
  • a jacket
  • a pair of trousers

Appendix 2

Sam
Figure 1: Sam

Works Cited

“Days Gone Bye.” The Walking Dead., AMC, New York, 31 Oct. 2010. Television.

Kung, Michelle. “The Walking Dead Season 1, Episode 6 Finale ‘TS-19’: TV Recap.” The Wall Street Journal 6 December 2010.

Patterson, John. “The Walking Dead: First Night Review.” The Guardian 2010.

Stanley, Alessandra. “The Undead Are Undaunted and Unruly.” The New York Times 2010.

“Tell It to the Frogs.” The Walking Dead., AMC, New York, 2010. Television.

“TS-19.” The Walking Dead., AMC, New York, 2010. Television.

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