How Important are Familial Themes in “The Walking Dead”?


Family is one of the cornerstones of The Walking Dead. The group as a whole sees each other as family, and often refers to their connection as such. There are also literal families within the group - the Grimes, the Greenes, the Dixons, much of the population of Alexandria is comprised of families.

The primary drive of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), the central character, is the protection of his family. It has been the leading motivator of all his actions since the beginning episode. What started as a quest to find his family became a quest to protect them, and as time passed, his literal family extended into the family he created with other members of the group. The safety of that overall family is his primary concern.

Several other characters are shaped by what happened to their families at the beginning of the zombie outbreak. Michonne (Danai Gurira) lost her boyfriend and son, which caused her to become a closed, reserved, intense fighter. Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) lost his family and his purpose in life, which led him to focus on protecting Eugene (Josh McDermitt). Maggie (Lauren Cohan) has lost most of her family, largely before her own eyes, which has shaped her character immensely. A complicated family history and brotherhood taught Daryl (Norman Reedus) everything he knows about survival, but also made it very hard for him to build relationships with the rest of the group. The Governor, Carol, Sasha, Gabriel (in the sense that his parishioners were his family) - all these individuals were shaped into the characters we see because of their families.