Character Analysis of The Walking Dead

Character Analysis of The Walking Dead

This is the third in my Character Analysis series.

Today, I’m going to review an episode of The Walking Dead to demonstrate screenwriter Laurie Hutzler’s ETB character types character types in action.

Season Two Episode Seven “Pretty Much Dead Already” is a great proving ground for this and it’s far enough back in the series that I won’t worry too much about spoilers!

Breaking Down Character Action and Behavior Inside The Episode

Opening Scene – Character Positions

The Ladies

The Men

So there’s our story setup. A nice outdoors breakfast. Smell that coffee and bacon?

But wait! What horror looms on the horizon?

A barn full of walkers?! Egads!!

The Middle

Let’s fast forward to the middle of the scene now.

This is where the behemoths do battle, where CONSCIENCE and WILL – RICK and SHANE, respectively – come to engage in a power struggle.

The inciting incident? The cat is out of the bag. The horse has left the barn. The rabbit is DOA.

The moment Shane learns Lori is pregnant things get real interesting real fast.

Both men love this woman but how they act on that emotion is radically different based on their character types.

The Situation:

  • the barn full of walkers puts the object of their affection in imminent danger

The Response:

  • RICK / Power of Conscience

“We need to stay”

  • SHANE / Power of Will

“We need our guns”

And there it is – the character types in action.

  • Rick’s conscience compels him to keep searching for a way to secure a home for the woman he loves
  • Shane’s willfulness compels him to immediately eliminate the threat to the woman he loves

The Closing Scene – Character Positions

Where are the characters during the barn massacre?

Power of Love withdraws / comes to its knees

  • Lori
  • Carol
  • Dale               (although he stumbles into the scene belatedly)

Power of Will stands on the front line

  • Shane
  • T-Dog
  • Daryl               (although he drops to secure and comfort Carol)

Power of Ambition stands on the front line

  • Andrea

Power of Idealism steps up to the front line

  • Glen

Power of Conscience continues to be torn / questions where the greater responsibility lies

  • Rick

In that final moment, when Rick is compelled to ACT, to raise his gun and fire the one shot that matters, the bullet that pierces the heart of everyone on the screen and those of us watching from this side of the screen – WOW!

THAT is how you create unforgettable stories.

You fill them with complex characters, motivated by a variety of internal complications and external situations.

The Bullish Points:

1) Creating stories based on empathetic, engaging, and vivid CHARACTERS makes for powerful stories.

2) That oft lamented element STRUCTURE is essential to story and characters.

3) STRUCTURE is the skeleton that carries the body of your story across the paragraphs and pages.

4) And finally: YES, CHARACTER STRUCTURE really does exist! Apply it to your stories and watch them come to life!