The Walking Dead and The Black Highlander

There are spoilers for The Walking Dead through the end of season 5 and the first episode of Fear the Walking Dead.

Seriously, I’m the farthest from a social activist. I’m not a trailblazer, instead I like to just point things out and use my art to express a different world that I either think is possible or wish could exist. There are so many things in the world that unsettle me and I don’t feel right championing only one cause. There are so many. So instead I use art. And I believe that many people use art to express how they feel, their thoughts on the world, and what could be different. However, as a result our views seep through that art.

Which is why it is a little unsettling that in the world of The Walking Dead and now Fear the Walking Dead have reached a point that the concept of The Black Highlander even exists. On a show that is filled with all sorts of characters many of which die it’s strange that this sort of trend has emerged. In case you didn’t know, The Black Highlander rule is ultimately this: There can only be one. That means there can only be one primary black male character. When a second black male character is introduced as a main character or is elevated to main character status one must die. After all, there can only be one.

In case you were wondering it’s not like this hasn’t happened before. Here’s the series of events: Morgan is introduced. Then T-Dog is introduced and Morgan goes AWOL. Oscar is introduced and T-Dog dies. Tyreese is introduced and Oscar dies. Bob is introduced and The Rule tries to kill Tyreese, but fails. Gabriel is introduced and Bob dies. Noah is introduced and Tyreese dies. Morgan is reintroduced and Noah dies. That leaves both Gabriel and Morgan alive. Who will survive that now both characters are in the same place.

On Fear the Walking Dead’s first episode we see this trope already taking form. We were introduced to Cal, Nick’s dealer, and Matt, Alicia’s boyfriend. By the end of the episode Cal is dead and while they didn’t explicitly say it the events point to Matt being dead already. So the first two deaths by characters we’ve spent some time with were black males. While Matt may still be alive, it doesn’t look good so far. Either way it isn’t the best picture to be painting.

While I’m not going to get up in arms about this it is disturbing and something that I can’t ignore. The reason I can’t is because so far the way they are handling it shows a lack of care. Right now they are creating these characters that are deemed as expendable or replaceable in such a way that only one type can exist. It’s hard to not realize that Tyreese and Morgan have similar philosophies and only one is on the show. Characters of all races die on these shows, but it’s foolish not to recognize that the creators are not being very cognizant of what they are doing. I will give it to the creators that they did seem aware enough to avoid having a black man be the walker who was shot multiple times by police on the footage.

I am all for story over the race of a character who dies. At the end of the day that is always what is going to matter to me most. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to ignore trends. This trend does only seem to apply to black males and not black females.

The full reddit post on The Black Highlander.


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