The Walking Dead ~ Who Are You?

Apr 8, 2012 by

I’m in the midst of polishing off the second season of The Walking Dead. I’ll probably be finished by the end of this weekend – it’s really quite engaging.

That said, it drives the prepper in me nuts sometimes, like when one of the group members gets worried about the two that left for town, and goes off to find them herself without telling anyone where she’s going. Sigh. Chomp chomp go the zombies – zombie bait.

Just a very brief synopsis of the series – like in 28 Days Later, our main guy wakes up in the hospital several weeks after the zombie outbreak. He wakes to find his family missing, and the world gone all to hell. Season one is him finding his family (it’s a short season), and so far, season two is about the group dynamics of our little band of survivors, and how they integrate, or don’t, with a family group already established on a farm.  But so far, the entire series has spanned maybe two weeks from when the guy woke up. Which is really nifty – I was kind of wondering how they were going to keep a zombie series going without diverging big-time from the core beloved elements of a zombie tale (lots of gore, guns and hot chicks). At this rate, they can milk the story line for 5-6 more seasons without hitting the one year post SHTF mark. Clever.

Aside from the entertainment value (high), the show has me think. I try to pick up at least one useful “not too-Hollywood” snippet from each post-apocalypse film or book. The scary thing I’m picking up from The Walking Dead is about emotions. I like to think of my post-SHTF group as keeping themselves together, using common sense and not wandering off into town without telling people.  But in The Walking Dead, people are portrayed as realistically emotional. The sadness, the relief, the catatonic shock at losing a loved one.  I know some of it is for entertainment – for without people going to town unnoticed and crashing their car, where would the drama be? And no, I don’t know what happens after that yet.. I’m writing this post instead! Ohh soon.

But I think I need to revise my little mental picture of my post-SHTF group, and take a lot more emotions into account. People may be grieving, or angry, or randomly going off to have sex in a hayloft. Wait, that last one was just in the show.  But still – who all has stocked condoms in their storage? I haven’t. Yet.

None of this was what I really wanted to share when I started this post. I wanted to ask you, whether you’ve seen this particular post-apocalypse show or not, who you identify with when you watch or read about a small group surviving in a tough situation. Sometimes the writers make it obvious, and pick off the dumb ones one by one. And sometimes they don’t.  In the Walking Dead, we have a variety of characters who seem very real and “fleshed out”.


There’s Glen, the city-wise pizza delivery guy who is your man for any recon or retrieval mission, but who lacks guile and sneakiness when it comes to people.

There’s Andrea, the hot blond who’d rather be dead than face a world of zombies. She got guilted into living by Dale, the sage older man who thinks of her like a daughter.

Dale is the group’s moral compass – he’s the one watching you when you are at your best, or your worst, in the dark. He knows and he sees, and tries to help the others stay healthy emotionally.

There’s Daryl, the southern redneck hothead survivalist, who deeply cares for the women and children in the group, and hates that he does, so he spends most of his time sulking angrily off to the side, until he’s needed to save the day (or try to).

Carol is the quiet, unassuming mother. She was the abused wife of a character that we happily watch get eaten fairly early on. She’s shy, and gravitates towards Daryl as a protector. She grieves.

Shane is our main guy’s best friend and partner on the force before it all went to hell. He starts out looking after Lori and Carl, Rick’s wife and child, when we think Rick is dead in the hospital.  But I think he was in love with Lori long beforehand. He “comforts” her, if you know what I mean, as they try to stay one step ahead from the zombies.  Then Rick shows up, wanting his family back.  Shane’s character keeps getting darker and darker, but you can completely see where he’s coming from. Lori was with him, he saved her. Then she ditches him for Rick.

At first, I thought that summed up Lori too. But she’s deeper than that – she really does love her husband, and she really regrets turning towards Shane so quickly. But she was protecting her son – Shane was taking care of both of them in a post-collapse world. And not to spoil things, but she gets more complicated and has some deeper choices to make later.  Highly emotional, but also completely understandable character.

There’s Carl, the little boy. It’s neat to watch him develop from the little guy who hides behind his mom (or because she shoved him behind her – she’s very protective), to a little man who wants gun training to look after the group.

And of course, there’s Rick.  When Rick shows back up and joins the group, Shane essentially steps down and turns leadership over to him. This transition was well done by the TV show – you barely know it happens, it was like it was meant to be. Rick is beset by the need to protect his group and ensure their physical and emotional well-being. That’s a tough roll to take on, and it takes a lot out of him. He has to make tough decisions, and they aren’t always the right ones. But he has that unspoken leader-to-leader bond with Hershel, the head of the farm where they have found safe haven (so far – I’m not sure what happens at the end of the season just yet – gulp!).

There are more characters, but those are the ones I found developed enough to have solid characters and be worth mentioning for this post.

If you’ve seen the show, you’ll know them better. But if you haven’t, you’ve got a rough gist of it from the above. You’ve also read enough survival fiction (right?) or seen enough post-collapse movies to be able to type-cast the characters around.

So which one are you?  Are you the protective but fiercely independent Daryl who flies off the handle at any suggestion that he might actually care? Are you the protective mother who would do anything for her children? Are you the gun-toting savior of the group? Are you the outlying, very useful but often-not-as-connected Glenn?

When I first “met” the group, I immediately liked Glenn. Glenn’s character holds the vision of myself I had as a child, useful, independent, ready to duck into the shadows out of self-preservation at any time.  Lori’s character makes me angry. I understand that she’s protective, but she’s also weak. She relies on the men-folk to protect her a bit too much. It’s not a bad thing to have men-folk protect you, but it’s bad to rely on them as your sole source of protection. Have a little more self confidence woman!  Andrea made me feel the same at first, but she started trying to learn, and fiercely wants to protect herself. And they wouldn’t let her have a gun at first. Ha, that didn’t last long.

But it’s Rick that gets me. The show is centered around Rick – he is certainly the main character. I realize the show is probably designed to get you to like Rick and understand him most of all. But I’ve always seen where the group leader comes from when I watch or read fictional (or non-fictional) post-SHTF stories. I see their perspective, the choices they have to make. I know that’s my role. Unless there’s someone else more suited, someone with the integrity and character to make those though calls and to hold a group together.  I have yet to meet such a person in real life, and would very much like to.  I always assume, in the end, that if the worst happens, I become the quiet leader guiding from within. Or, you know, putting the smack-down for the good of the group, as necessary. It’s not because I want the power – far from it. I’m not the power-loving type.  I lead because people need a leader, they need me.

Okay, I diverged again. That must sound very “I’m the best leader ever, nah nah nah”. I really don’t mean to say that, or anything like it. I just see the world from that perspective, and would welcome someone else more suited to take the responsibility. But I assume that it will fall to me, and thus prepare accordingly.

Who are you? Who do you identify with?  Are you the lone ranger? Are you like Dale, the emotional glue that keeps them together? Are you dependent on others to look after you (again, not necessarily a bad thing)? Are you the person whom people depend on?  Are you ready for your role? Are you doing everything you can to be the best that you can be?

Try not to let your emotions get the best of you and put yourself and those you care about in danger. As a leader, I’m broadening my perspective and my responsiveness to take more emotions into consideration – I shouldn’t assume that others are as firmly rational as I am. I know they’re not. I appreciate that The Walking Dead reminded me of this – I need to be the best person I can be, for the safety of the people that look to me.

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  1. Anonymous

    That photo was taken a few episodes away from where you are now. It’s funny you should mention the group doing things that frusterate you, because they’re on that bridge in that photo because they ran out of gas. They could have planned better, or stored extra gas in the vehicles, and wouldn’t have been in that position. Good show though!

  2. DD

    The realizism is seriosly lacking in this show. After one practice, they can all shoot accurately out of a moving vehicle? Into the head of a zombe? right. but it’s entertaining.

    I like Shane best, until [Edited by Sandy for spoilers] the end of the season. he tries to protect the group and everyone in it and does whatever needs to be done.

  3. Amber

    i see where lori is coming from. her kid is #1, and even her husband isn’t as important. she’s a tiger.

  4. Jack Stein

    Sandy, you don’t come across as pompous or power-hungry. I think a lot of people with a prepper mindset feel the same way you do. They might have woken up to the need to prepare, and look around and the unprepared people around them. A wise person will plan for more people than anticipated because they know others will end up at their door. And you might find that you have the most knowledge and experience to help others, even though you are self-professed to still be at the beginning stages of prepping. A good leader recognizes the strength of their group, and uses those strength for the welfare of all.

    As far as the show goes, I like Rick too. He’s faced with some very tough calls, and it’s been interesting to watch him struggle with his own personal morality and sense of ethics, while protecting his family and his adopted tribe. I’m looking forward to seeing what Season 3 will bring.

    • Thanks Jack. I’m looking forward to the next season too. I’m wondering where they’re going to take the show – they left it pretty opened ended. And of course… what’s going to happen between our remaining characters..

  5. Anonymous

    The kid is zombie bait. When is he going to get eaten already?

  6. Will79

    I think a lot of preppers are natural leaders. They take the lead in their own lives, and if they have a family, for their family too. Taking care of someone else can be that light bulb moment for someone that turns them into a prepper. So I think what you are talking about here with Rick is probably felt be a lot of the people reading your blog. I know I’m my group’s leader. It falls to me. It’s my responsibility. I wouldn’t trust anyone else to look after my kids the way I can anyway.

  7. Nice discussion about the show. It really does get you thinking about what you would do, and how you would handle situations as compared to the characters. I agree emotions can run rampant in times of trouble and actually present a danger if uncontrolled. Be interesting to find out what happens to the group this coming season.

  8. Beth

    I have to admit I have not seen the show. I’m always to busy for T.V. But as a photographer I find it fun to watch people and find that most people of the world seems more dead then alive these days. I’m the person who will do what they have to to protect the ones I love at all costs.

    on a side note “People may be grieving, or angry, or randomly going off to have sex in a hayloft. Wait, that last one was just in the show. But still – who all has stocked condoms in their storage? I haven’t. Yet” This made me laugh as just a few days ago I came across this

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