The Walking Dead has been one of the longest running shows in television history. While the show has had it’s ups and downs throughout it’s run, it certainly shows no signs of stopping. It is currently on its tenth season now and the second half will be returning next month. Just in case casual fans forgot, The Walking Dead came from a comic series written by Robert Kirkman. As a fan and reader of the comics, I enjoy seeing many of Kirkman’s characters being adapted to the show. However, the show through a bit of a curveball at us comic fans by adding original characters that have no comic counterpart. This was a risky move for them, but most of the original characters have thankfully been pretty fun to watch. Since the show will be returning soon, let’s go over the top five Walking Dead characters that were made just for the show.
The first show-exclusive character kicking off the list is someone that appeared in just one episode. Back in season six, we got to see a flashback episode dedicated to Morgan and how he slowly reclaimed his sanity. Morgan stumbled upon an isolated house in the woods owned by a kind but highly skilled fighter called Eastman. This character was surprisingly intriguing and a total mystery, but as the episode progressed, his tragic backstory started to unravel. Eastman was a jewel among rocks in the show, mostly due to his humanity and morals still being intact. Despite Morgan begging to kill him, Eastman believed there was still a shred of humanity left in him and tried his best to get him realize that.
Eastman taught him the martial art of Aikido and how to fight with a staff, a skill that would prove useful to Morgan throughout the series. He also taught him the philosophy that all life is precious, even with the worst of human beings. It took time, but Morgan eventually regained his sense of humanity. The two became pretty close until Morgan indirectly caused Eastman to be bitten by a walker, sadly ending his run on the show. Eastman was a unique kind of character for the show that chose to hang on to his morals, rather than give into the harsh world he lived in. His greatest legacy is without a doubt Morgan’s development. Peace and love conquers all.
Since Andrea was untimely killed off in season three, the group needed a sharpshooter to replace her. The role went to Sasha, Tyrese’s sister (which he didn’t have in the comics) and her skills became quite useful for the group’s survival. Sasha became more intriguing when she lost Tyrese and her first boyfriend, Bob, causing her to suffer from PTSD. She became more reckless and suicidal as she went on, but she soon found true companionship in Abraham Ford. They were probably the most interesting couple on the show, considering they both suffered from personal tragedies and felt like loners. Her sacrifice for the group gave them a fighting chance against Negan and his army, making her one of the most heroic characters the show gave us.
In the comics, Negan didn’t exactly have a right-hand man. That’s probably why the show decided to give him one by including Simon, an excellent character that was even more psychotic than Negan himself. Although he was fiercely loyal to Negan in the beginning, Simon became more disillusioned with Negan’s approach to the war with the other communities and eventually tried to have him killed and replace him as leader of The Saviors. Of course, he didn’t succeed and Negan personally choked him to death. He was last seen as a walker chained to a fence. Karma sure caught up with him.
What made Simon such a great character was his similarities to Negan. He was totally a sociopath, but there was a bit of a charming side to him. He was articulate whenever he spoke, rarely lost his temper, and knew how to manipulate others to his side. Also like Negan, he had a sadistic sense of humor that he always expressed, even when he was committing mass murder. The biggest difference between him and Negan is that he was willing to slaughter all the communities entirely. His worst act is when he ordered the mass executions of all the males over the age of ten in the Oceanside community, leaving only the women. This horrific act even shocked Negan and that’s saying something. Still, he wasn’t bad enough to beat Negan.
2. Merle Dixon
The number two spot goes to the first human antagonist of the series. Right off the bat, Merle Dixon proved to be the worst of the worst. He was pretty much white trash, constantly spewing out racist remarks and starting fights with others. After being handcuffed to a roof by Rick and cutting off his own hand to escape, Merle was MIA for a while. It wasn’t until season three that we discovered that he became a henchman for the sadistic Governor. Although he was still a ruthless thug under The Governor, Merle surprisingly grew as a character, ultimately choosing to sacrifice himself for the group in order to protect his brother, Daryl. Merle is one of the few characters on the show that started out as a total scumbag, but later evolved into a better person. That kind of character development is rare on the show and it kind of shows how the apocalypse can actually turn the worst of people into something better.
1. Daryl Dixon
Was there any doubt? Daryl Dixon is just too cool to ignore. He is a redneck, but he’s the proof that rednecks would be the best survivors in the zombie apocalypse. Daryl was originally shown to be a bit of a jerk, much like his brother, but it didn’t take long for us to discover that he had a soft side. Daryl progressively became more compassionate and selfless as he went on, even acting as a leader to the group at certain times. His development grew further when he found a brother figure in Rick and a sister figure in Carol, discovering what having a true family is really like. Daryl went from gruff and angry loner to selfless savior, a pure example how characters should develop. With his handy crossbow and newly-found dog companion, we should expect Daryl to stick around for quite a while.
The Walking Dead has given us some incredible characters that left their mark on the show. If these five character have proven anything, it’s that the show doesn’t have to be completely faithful to the comics in order to be good. Let’s just hope Daryl can stay alive unlike the rest of these guys. What are your thoughts?
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