The Walking Dead

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Fandom
Name: The Walking Dead
Abbreviation(s): TWD
Creator: Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont
Date(s): October 2003 - present (comics)
October 2010 - present (TV series)
Medium: comic books, television series, video game, novels
Country of Origin: United States
External Links: official site
AMC's official site
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The Walking Dead is a monthly comic book series that has been adapted into a popular AMC television series.

The Walking Dead tells the story of Rick Grimes, a small-town sheriff's deputy who awakens from a coma into the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Rick reunites with his family and becomes the leader of a small group of survivors as they fight for survival against "walkers" and humans alike.

Most fans’ attention is fixed on the textual narrative—that is, The Walking Dead’s story about human survivors in the wake of apocalypse, which exists in a graphic novel canon as well as the television series.[1]

Fandom

The Walking Dead comics had a strong fan following before the beginning of the television series,[2] after the series debut in 2010 the fandom grew exponentially.

In Season 2 Daryl Dixon (a character not present in the comics) surpassed Rick Grimes as the most popular character in TV series fandom.[3]. Daryl still remains the character most prominently featured in fanworks.[4]

In 2016, Walking Dead was ranked fifth in the Top 20 "most reblogged" live-action television show on Tumblr, gaining eight spots in popularity from the previous year[5].

Pairings

Terminology

  • Team Family: a another name for Rick's group of survivors, because they often refer to themselves as a family, though most of them are not blood related.
  • Atlanta Five: a name given to the five remaining survivors of the Atlanta Quarry Camp, changed by some to the Atlanta Four after Glenn's death
  • Abraham’s Army : a name for Abraham's group that traveled together, trying to transport Eugene to Washington D.C.
  • Ricktator: a name given to Rick after Season 2 when he made a speech about the group not being a democracy anymore.
  • Team Prison: a name for the survivors living at the prison, usually in the context of their conflict with The Governor, example Team Prison vs Woodbury
  • Termites: a name for the residents of Terminus, who were a cult of cannibals
  • The Claimers: a name for a group Daryl travels with in Season 4, so named because their only rule was if you see something you wanted you must yell "claim" in order to attain it
  • Garbage Pail Kids: a name given to the Scavengers, who live in a garbage dump

Discussion & Controversies

Treatment of Female Characters

  • Numerous instances of rape or attempted rape occur in the comics, all of them female characters apart from the attempted rape of Carl, Rick's 10 year old son; most of these are seen as clear instances of fridging the victim in order to give male characters motive for revenge and/or manpain. Particularly infamous is the rape and torture of Michonne by the Governor as the catalyst for Michonne's revenge arc (which also led to accusations of racism because Michonne is black).[1] Robert Kirkman addressed this in a letter in issue 36.[2][3]
  • The Governor raping Michonne was altered in the TV series to the governor sexually assaulting and threatening to rape Maggie--this scene, and Maggie and Glenn coping with it later, met with mixed reviews[4][5][6]. Earlier in the TV series, Shane attempted to rape Lori, and Randall's group were mentioned to have raped multiple women (cliche way of proving they're Bad?). TWD video games and novels also include references of women being raped.
  • TWD fandom was also often accused of being misogynistic, due in part to the blind hatred of Lori Grimes. Sarah Wayne Callies has said that there was marked difference between the responses of male and female fans, female fans tended to be understanding and forgiving of Lori's behavior, while male viewers expressed rage at Lori for for cheating on her husband and for not always being a good parent.[6]
  • Criticism of gender roles in Season One, e.g. women doing laundry while the men fight zombies
  • Killing of the Female Characters: Amy Harrison, Sophia Peletier, Lori Grimes, Andrea Harrison, Beth Greene

Accusations of Racism

The TV show in particular has been accused of being racist. Early seasons appear to get the biggest criticism:

  • The lack of development of black characters, especially in comparison to the comics [7] [8], enraged some of the fans. Development and notable action sequences performed by POC in the comics have been given to white characters on the show.
  • Early seasons (1 and 2 especially) seem to follow TV's One Black Man (or Obligatory Black Guy) rule, where no new POCs are introduced as long as the "main" black character is still alive. This became especially evident when the show killed off T-Dog before introducing Tyrese to the cast.[9]

It's worth pointing out that the show has gotten much better when it comes to racial diversity as the seasons progressed, and the writers has introduced a number of POCs to the main cast, including Michonne, Bob, Sasha and Rosita. Of course the influence and screentime of those characters is still topic of discussions among the fans, as some are not satisfied with little to no development those characters have on the show.

LGBTQ Characters

  • Shortly after the characters Aaron and Eric are introduced they kiss. This lead to some fans expressing anger at the show. Most of these fan comments were seen as homophobic. Other fans thought the reaction was strange, because Aaron and Eric are canonically gay characters from the comics. Plus, it was seen as alright to show horrific violence and gore, but not two men loving one another.[10]
  • In Season 6 the show killed the character of Denis Cloyd after a short, one season, character development arc. The fans accused the show’s writers of falling back on a well-established trope known as Bury Your Gays or Dead Lesbian Syndrome, which says that gay characters are not allowed to experience a happy ending. It was particularly troublesome to some because Denise received a death that in the comics was meant for Abraham, a straight, white male. The timing of Denise's death was also particularly bad because it occurred shortly after the death of Commander Lexa on The 100.[11]

Violence

Although showing the killing of zombies is expected on The Walking Dead, the show has received criticisms of its human on human violence, two notable examples being:

  • Rick and the survivors killing people in their sleep. In season 6 the group infiltrates a Savior outpost and kills multiple people in their sleep. Some fans saw this as cold-blooded murder, and questioned the morality of show's "heroes". However, others argued that the group's actions were justified because the Saviors were not good people, they were extortionist murderers.[12]
  • Negan's kills. In the season 7 premiere Negan brutally beats to death Glenn and Abraham with a baseball bat. To some fans showing the gruesome details of the kills, including showing Glenn with his eye popped out of his socket, was too much.[13]

Resources

Archives

Communities

References

  1. Apocalyptic Imagination and The Walking Dead Fandom
  2. Was The Walking Dead comic book popular before the TV came out?
  3. How did Daryl become so popular?
  4. The Walking Dead A03 Statistics
  5. 2016′s Top TV Shows - Live Action
  6. Walking Dead's Sarah Wayne Callies says fan backlash 'gendered'
  7. Race in The Walking Dead essay
  8. Race in The Walking Dead, Part 2
  9. The 10 Biggest Walking Dead Controversies of All Time
  10. 'So you're OK with child murder, but not a gay kiss?' Twitter users react with fury after fans of The Walking Dead object to kiss between two homosexual characters
  11. The Walking Dead’s Latest Gruesome Death Is Part of a Troubling TV Trend
  12. The Walking Dead Finally Questions the Ethics of Cold-Blooded Murder
  13. Walking Dead Fans Left Horrified by Most Gruesome Deaths Yet