Why It’s Very Bad to Be a Little Girl on The Walking Dead
So this weekend I saw two different memes that neatly summarized just what happens to girls in the Walking Dead. The memes made me chuckle but then made me think. What’s going on with little girls on the show?
While it’s true that one boy–Luke, one of the survivors of Woodbury–met with an untimely end during the course of the series, little girls seem to be very unlucky post-apocalypse. Not only that, but these ill-fated children have been involved in some of the most powerful and memorable moments in the show.
The Walking Dead and A Pattern of Victims
The very first walker we see on the show is Summer. Who can forget her feet shuffling along beneath the frame of the abandoned truck with that one ragged bunny slipper or the tense knot that formed in their stomachs when Rick approached anxious to help what he thought was a lost child?
The image of Sophia shambling almost timidly out of the barn, her eerie ghostly whitened eyes blinking from the light was horrifying and for me one of the most memorable moments in the entire series.
And who can forget Penny with her pretty little satin bow? Her second “death” played a pivotal role in The Governor’s character development and helped drive the action of Season 3. And it was the sight of Lily’s daughter Meghan’s ruined body that pushed the Governor to end Herschel’s life in Season 4.
Then, there was The Grove–one of the most unexpected, unforgettable and heart-wrenching episodes of the series. From Lizzie’s manic ramblings as she clutches the knife and stands before her sister’s lifeless body to that moment when you can see Carol’s anguish painted all across her face as she pleads with the disturbed child to “look at the flowers,” the sequence of events that unfolded near the end of the episode left fans stunned. I don’t know if I ever recovered from The Grove any better than Carol has.
Part of what leaves us rattled by these scenes is just how uncommon it is for young girls to die brutally in popular culture. While we may be used to the trope of the beautiful young girl wasting away from cancer while she falls in love with the handsome boy down the street, a tween or a child being mauled by a zombie or executed by her own sister is largely unchartered territory.
I believe the very reason why little girls die so often in The Walking Dead is the very same reason they are usually rescued in the nick of time in other movies and shows–because of their innocence.
In the world where Rick Grimes and the others live, the innocent are not spared because they are good. The brutal world does not care about what sins a person has committed. Everyone is “the walking dead,” living every moment on the edge of being bitten or killed by other survivors.
Each death of a little girl is another message that this new world brought on by the arrival of the walkers cares for no one.
Of course, there is one little girl who has–in the TV series at least–managed to live.
But keeping Judith alive has had a heavy cost. Maggie and Glenn were taken prisoner by Merle and turned over to The Governor while on a run for formula for Judith. The baby’s cries alerted Gareth and the others of Terminus to the room where those left behind at the church were hiding.
And Judith’s two primary caretakers–Beth and Tyreese–both are no longer among the living. Their deaths weren’t directly caused by Judith but one has to wonder—was it a coincidence?
After all, Beth was driving the ghostly vehicle along with Mika and Lizzie into the underworld when Tyreese died. Where was Karen? Where was Herschel? Nowhere to be seen. Tyreese was alone with the two departed children and Judith’s other frequent babysitter.
In The Walking Dead if you intend to be the type of guy who “saves babies” as Martin so aptly put it, you can expect to face extra hardships and danger. One has to wonder if it’s worth the price at all, especially when the innocent can so easily die.
Thinking about how The Walking Dead treats little girls I can’t help but think that it doesn’t bode well for the residents of Alexandria this season. After all, Carol compared them to innocent kids when she explained why she was pretending to be weak, saying, “Because these people are children, and children like stories.”
What will be the cost of trying to keep the innocent “children” of Alexandria insulated and safe in their town? We’ll find out come October.