WARNING: Brief spoilers contained in this post. If you haven’t watched The Walking Dead Season 6, please do not continue reading.
If you were anything like me, for four weeks I wondered whether or not Glenn was alive. Was the body on top of him the one the walkers ripped apart? Was he able to crawl underneath the dumpster, he had just been standing on not two minutes ago? I didn’t know the answer to those burning questions, but what I did know was that those damn writers wouldn’t take a character ending scene like that in Thank You and give us a conclusion the very next episode.
I mean, they had us by the balls with that scene! Why not string their viewers along and keep ratings high? THAT was the smart move, because with Twitter buzzing, Heads Up–the episode that revealed Glenn’s fate–brought in a whopping 13.2 million total viewers!
THIS is how you write horror. Stretch the tension just far enough that you don’t lose your reader. Not only that, but your reader needs to like the character you’re messing with. Glenn has always been a team player. In the first season, he was the one to lead Rick to safety in the middle of a city overrun with walkers. He was the one who would do anything to help his friends survive. He fell in love with Maggie. And while we were mourning the possible death of Glenn, we find out that Maggie is PREGNANT!
So, yeah. Glenn HAD to live.
But what if he hadn’t? Would the show have continued or would fans revolted like they’ve promised to do if the writers EVER kill off Daryl? Almost definitely. They knew that though, which is why Glenn is now plotting and planning a way to get back into Alexandria. Horror writers need to know when to draw the line at when to keep and when to kill off characters. Sometimes, killing off a main character is a necessity–ever hear the saying, “kill off your darlings”?
Bringing Jeffrey Dean Morgan in at the end of season as villain Negan, is just another calculated move for the series. The Walking Dead may have begun as a comic book, but the writers are bringing it to life with actors, special effects, and variations on the plot. Good writers are able to do all of this successfully, and we should all take the example The Walking Dead shows us.
And as always, keep Writing Bloody.