The Walking Dead & Character Development

DDiesImage copyOne of my favorite shows on television is AMC’s The Walking Dead. My evolution into watching this show happened in an unusual fashion. I have never read The Walking Dead comics. Often times I am so immersed in work that I forget to come up for air and take a look around. I watched my first episode while visiting family for Thanksgiving. It was during the first season of the show, and the episode that aired was the third or fourth that season. Basically, I came to it right in the middle of the plot development. Most of the characters had already been introduced at this point and they were beginning to portray the various interactions and relationships.

After that first show, I was left with the need and desire to find out more about the characters. Zombies, the virus, and the destruction of the civilized world all take part in the world building, and while it has always served to be an important part of the show, what truly drives it are the characters.

I know that many fans of the show lamented over the first half of the second season, stating that it was too slow a pace. Yes, the fewer zombie attacks slowed things a bit, but the true brilliance behind their storytelling lay in the character development. They began showing us more of each of the characters, helping us feel empathy for them at the horrors they were going through, expanding on their back stories in order to forge a visceral connection that made us care about whether they lived or died, and most importantly how each character struggles with the burning question: if the apocalypse hits, and the world de-evolves into chaos, are we still civilized?

Each one of those character building elements has made us care for, and in some cases, fall in love with those characters. Thereby creating statements across social media like, “If Daryl Dies, We Riot!”. Their hardships, struggles, and losses touch us on an emotional, visceral level that can all be traced back to that second season where we truly got to know the characters. One of the most powerful, in my humble opinion, episodes in the current season was “Coda” where our gang finds hope for survival only to have it dashed in the most brutal way possible. This show would not be the success it is without the connection viewers have to the characters.

The way the AMC’s The Walking Dead has provided writers with a blueprint for a successful way to develop characters with depth, originality, compassion, and everything in between is a remarkable feat and something I feel every writer could learn from. What’s your favorite story that you feel displayed remarkable character development?


MMGsmallBestselling Author Maggie Mae Gallagher doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t writing. When she was a kid she acted out her favorite scenes, only better, with her brother and cousin. As a teenager, she wrote reams of poetry, but realized her true love lay with creating characters and stories. A former music and history major, Maggie is a total geek at her core. When she is not writing, she adores attending the latest comic con or spending time with her family. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her two furry felines. She can be reached at her website, her Facebook page, or on Twitter.

RupturedBV copyRUPTURED

It has been eighty-three years since the walls between Earth and Infernus fell, and now our world stands upon the razor’s edge of extinction. Demon platoons are marching upon us. My home, one of humanity’s last bastions of existence, is under siege.

My name is Alana Devereaux. I am the resident demon detector of Cantati Forces and Platoon Commander. My job is to hunt down the vermin unleashed upon my world, and I love it. I live for the day I can kick every last demon’s ass out of this world. Except as enemy forces reign down terror upon us, the Densare Council sentences me to a fate worse than death.

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8 Responses to The Walking Dead & Character Development

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Hi Maggie! I haven’t watched The Walking Dead, but on reruns this summer, I became addicted to Blue Bloods, the TV show with Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg. I’d watched it when it first came out, and it was too slow for me. My husband still watched it sporadically, and this last summer, he started watching reruns. I would come in once in a while, and I started to see how good it was (despite Tom Selleck’s shoeshine black hair – why doesn’t he let it go gray?). The show has great character development, and I love how they interact as a family that extends to their jobs.

    Newsroom was another one that had great character development. That last show was awesome, but I hated to see the series end. I haven’t seen Downton Abbey, but one of these days I’ll get the first season and see if I get hooked on it.

    • Edie Ramer says:

      After I commented here, I went to my library online and reserved the first season of Downton Abbey. 🙂

    • Hi Edie! I heard Blue Bloods was incredible. It’s on my list of shows to watch here eventually. I think there are a ton of shows out there that novelists can study for their character development. Newsroom was really good but I don’t think it attracted enough of a following to be considered a success. Hollywood is funny that way.

      Downtown Abbey is in my cue to watch. 🙂
      Maggie Mae Gallagher`s last blog was …Ruptured Blitz Tour

  2. Mary Hughes says:

    Hi, Maggie,

    Great post! I love character development in shows. The best development usually gets highlighted by putting the character in the worst circumstances, like making the Doctor the last survivor of the Time Wars. I enjoy the way characters progress through courtship, marriage and family on Bones.

    • Hi Mary! Yeah, one of my favorite workshops was by Michael Hague. He really breaks apart screenplays and shows you how to apply it in a novel. It’s one of the reasons I have made it a point to study character development in my favorite shows.
      Maggie Mae Gallagher`s last blog was …Ruptured Blitz Tour

  3. Hi, Maggie! Cool post. Character development is so important in stories. I really like the character development on the TV show Arrow. So many interesting characters on that show.
    Jennifer Estep`s last blog was …Cold Burn of Magic, Black Blade #1, coming April 28 …

  4. Hi Jennifer! Thanks! I love, love, love Arrow!!! It’s one of my favorites.
    Maggie Mae Gallagher`s last blog was …Ruptured Blitz Tour

  5. Welcome to your first post on MM, Maggie!

    I don’t watch that many shows, but I really loved LIFE with Damian Lewis as Charlie Crews. I thought that was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. And I really LOVE ELEMENTARY, the modern Sherlock Holmes retelling in New York, with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Lui. Just great character development.

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