The Walking Dead: An Evolution of Characters

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The Walking Dead is returning this Sunday and the excitement from fans is palpable. AMC knows this and has been airing a Walking Dead marathon leading up to the premiere. The marathon started at episode one and will lead right up to the season four finale. Watching all the way from the first episode, it’s impossible not to notice how dramatically the characters have changed throughout the series.  Let’s take a look at the primary group and how they’ve evolved.

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Rick

Rick Grimes is the perfect example of the characters changing throughout the series. Right from the get go in episode one he is a sponge. He is soaking up the environment, slowly learning what is happening and making mistakes he’ll later regret. Remember the poor horse? That tore him up a bit. Even a bit later when he has to chop up a zombie he tries to make a connection to them and help the group emotionally. Yet the entire time he is learning, he is leaning on others to help…Then he’s betrayed.

Over several seasons he has kept this style to him. Constantly learning and getting beat down. At one point he nearly loses it, but it seems he has finally grasped just what he needs. He went from being a sponge to being a complete badass. It feels as though it was building and building to this point, and he finally knows what he needs and is now going to use his knowledge to protect his group. He went from being a learner to a well respected leader. 

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Carl

Of course with Rick comes Carl and if you remember the first season, Carl was literally a little kid. Much like Rick he has been a sponge, learning everything that comes around him. Yet he is still in that sponge state so that hasn’t changed, it’s more about the way he is learning. He is learning to not get attached to people, not to trust people, and learning that his father is going through a lot to protect him.

One major thing that changed about Carl is that he went from a full on protected kiddy, to a kid that is allowed to be part of the adult group….. sometimes. Remember the several instances of Lori losing him and freaking out? We don’t see that as much with Rick. He may lose him, but he now has faith in him being okay.

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Daryl

In my opinion Daryl is the only character that slid backwards. Don’t get me wrong, Daryl is the most badass character on the show and I love the character, but jump back to season one. Daryl’s very first line in the entire series is “son of a bitch!” Seriously, it’s because he was hunting and a zombie got to his food before he did. It’s not only that, but from this point forward he is completely in demand of any situation involving him. He is loud, people feared him, and he wasn’t to be messed with.

Season 2 is where a lot of characters lost respect for what happened in Season 1. This is true for Daryl as well. He became more soft spoken, he wasn’t out hunting as much, and he was still a protector, but he separated himself. After season 2 he starts to come back into his role and supports Rick, but he still hasn’t hit that high point he was in season 1. For example in season 1 he constantly wanted to hurt Rick or anyone that stepped up to him. Last season one person yelled claimed and he bows down. Thankfully though, Daryl ends up becoming himself just as the season ends so there is faith his season 1 self is returning, and teaming that version up with the new Rick….. that’s just going to be insane!

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Glen

When watching season 1 I was surprised of one thing, Glen has always been a badass, he was just never highlighted for it. He always went into the city alone, he saves Rick, and he knows what to do in almost all situations. It isn’t until things start to go wrong that he freaks out. This is where Rick and Daryl get an upper hand as they stay calm and think it through.

Turn the page a few seasons and the only thing that really changed is that he has a girlfriend, well, wife. This has changed his mindset a little bit as it becomes all about protecting her and putting her first, but he is still this insane asian that kicks ass! They just finally highlighted it by giving him some SWAT gear, saving another person in the prison, and kicking butt until he found Maggie. The only time he went backwards was again during season 2, but it didn’t push him back far at all. 

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Carol

In my opinion Carol is the most evolved character of them all. In season 1 she was a coward, no hard feelings though! She had a jackass of a husband and she was getting beat by him, and yet she cried when Shane rightfully beats the crap out of him. She cried a lot in fact, and she was really soft spoken. This lasts for a good while too. She was always somewhat pushed around by someone in the group, until Daryl started helping her out more.

Now? Now she isn’t married, and for all we know she has her eyes set on Daryl. She lost her daughter and this destroyed her old self. After that she was reborn and she is now a really awesome and dynamic character. She feels absolutely nothing like the season 1 Carol in any way. She is powerful, she speaks her mind, and she even proved she could last on her own. Her biggest moment was having the courage to confront Tyrese about what she did. That alone took more courage that almost the entire group put together. She accepted who she has become and is a fun character to watch. Which can also become a problem, she makes big decisions, and perhaps those decision are not always proper. Look at the roses….. 

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Shane

What can we say about Shane? He went from a psychotic lunatic badass to, well, dead! Honestly I don’t want to talk about dead characters, but if I had to choose one character to come back, it would be Shane. He is more or less the embodiment of the entire group. With him around, there was drama, but real risk involved too. He would fight with Rick, then they’d team up in the next scene when the group was in danger. Ever since he left, that dynamic hasn’t really been found again. Plus to be honest, he was the only interesting story in Season 2.

So how do you feel about the evolution of this group? Do you think the next wave of characters have gone through the transformation? Do you agree with these transformations? Overall I think it’s rather interesting to go back and watch season 1 to see how these characters were. Then you watch the later seasons and see pretty much a whole new cast. That is something worth talking about.