The Walking Dead: Violence

Terminus. Bent over a trough with their hands tied behind their back, they await their fate. A baseball bat to the back of the head. Their throats slit. Another episode of The Walking Dead makes a debut.

The Walking Dead Season 5 Premier
The Walking Dead Season 5 Premier

For today’s Monday Mayhem I would like to talk a bit about the level of violence in The Walking Dead. Why is it there? And—is it necessary?

[Spoilers lie therein.]

If you have followed The Walking Dead for any length of time, you will know the show has gone through a transformation of sorts that, for lack of a better cliché, has pushed the envelope of dramatic series television. Season 5’s premier episode caught viewers off-guard with one of the most brutal scenes ever depicted on the small screen. If a phrase ought to typify the episode, it would be this one: “You’re either the butcher or the cattle.” If the viewer thought they had seen it all in the final episode of Season 4, they had miscalculated the show’s ability to deliver an even more shocking story.

You see, up to that point, the violence had always centered around the undead ending up splattered all over a wall or torn apart from gunfire. Humans receiving the brunt of their destruction typically came from walkers searching for food. That is until the absolute terror-inducing scene in the slaughterhouse of Season 5’s premier. It was then the viewer realized just how cruel a human could be toward another human.

The increasing level of viciousness from season-to-season attests to one thing the show has accomplished well—depicting that humans left to their own devices will kill without mercy.

Necessary? Yes.

The violence in The Walking Dead has become a symbol of what society would be like should an actual apocalypse take place. Brother will turn against brother. Hatred will spawn more hatred. And the concept of family will extend to those who will come to the aid of the less fortunate. If it sounds pessimistic, you’re right. But if you caught that last sentence, there will always be those who will not succumb to the human compulsion of killing. They are the ones who will make the world a better place.

Does that sound idealistic? Perhaps. But who’s to say how it will all play out until it actually happens? All I know is in every disaster, there are heroes.

And the heroes are the ones who will make a difference.

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What do you think about the violence depicted in The Walking Dead? Have you had any nightmares yet?

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15 thoughts on “The Walking Dead: Violence

  1. that scene gave me shivers. I thought the Governer beheading Hershal was violent enough but the casual way those butchers were talking while slitting throats like they were nothing more the animals just made me sick. I do really wonder how much we has humans will lose our humanity. I would hope that there are more heroes than bad guys but truth be told it will probably more a case of protecting your own and forget the rest much like Rick, Daryl and the gang are doing.

  2. My mom worries that I stress out from watching the Walking Dead because of the violence. But I don’t think so. It’s a bit ironic how entertained I am by it, and jazzed up watching it, when in real life I am actually a pacifist and pro gun control. All the expected SF citizen stereotypes. However I used to watch and enjoy Dexter, and now I find the violence uncomfortable. I can’t explain why that would be all that different from the violence in TWD but it is. It probably has to do with the motivation. TWD is about survival and purpose, even for the Termites. But Dexter just needs to be stopped.

  3. What’s truly frightening is not the fake violence on the show, but that it represents very real violence that would occur should the veneer of civilization actually fall.
    What’s even more frightening is, right now, the only thing holding some people from living according to the worst part of their nature, is their fear of punishment, either from the law or their peers. In a society without any repercussions for their violence, we might all be living in a kind of Hell. Our only hope would be those people who attempted to live their better natures. (So, I suppose ,in one sense, things would be as they ever were.)

    It’s good that the show is starting to focus more on the violence of the people. The zombies are predictable. We all know what they’re going to do. People? A lot less so. It keeps the show interesting.

  4. I think that one of the strengths and mass drawing power of The Walking Dead television series is how it stays right on the edge of realism…the level of violence depicted in WD Season 5 is truly unprecedented in the history of television, as is the level of artistry and special effects uses to make those scenes so realistic and believable. Not for the faint of heart!

  5. I am old school. The violence was in the mind. The side word, the look, the door that did not open. In the Cat, a young girl goes out for her mother to buy something. It is late at night. She is followed by the cat. She gets to the door of her house. Safety! But no she has no key and the door is locked. She bangs on the door. She senses she is in danger and her knocks are heard increasing in the noise of the pounding. The mother goes to the door but she is too late for under the door a pool of blood has formed and the knocking has stopped. It fades to black. The horror is in our minds. True horror and the hope we are wrong. Maybe that is the cats blood, or a broken container of ketchup or something other than blood? It is a black and white movie, so maybe? But in the next scene we are in the church and a casket is shown. We know the truth and we are repelled. We hate the cat. We hate its instinct to kill. Nature is the enemy and it has no rationale but death. The true power of horror.

  6. About 15, or more, years ago there was a scientific study done on rats. The theory under study was to see what would make rats turn on each other and wreck total havoc. It was, basically, to prove that inner city over population is the reason behind high crime rates. The rats, in the over crowded glass cage, formed gangs. Some of the gangs attacked while other gangs fought off the attackers. Brutal and horrific. Humans are not immune to primal instincts.
    Leslie

  7. The Walkers are Dangerous, yes. But people like the Governor & Gareth’s merry band of cannibals are the people to truly be wary of.
    I explained ” The Walking Dead ” to a friend as such : Think of a cruise ship. The ship is surrounded by sharks & other dangerous sea creatures. The ship is somewhat the worse for wear, not having access to proper repair & maintenance supplies. The ship also has rogue passengers & crew members, some of who wouldn’t think anything of slitting your throat & / or casting you to the sharks if it served their purposes.
    I thought it was a ** reasonably ** good analogy at the time, anyway.

  8. I fell very far behind, so I don’t know how violent it gets. I’m sure shock value and a desire to top previous seasons are factors. Many shows seem to do that with character deaths, personal dramas, sex, or violence. I think a deciding factor on how well the increased violence works is the believability and how it helps the story. Sounds like it works for ‘The Walking Dead’, but I remember seeing an anime where each episode was extremely more violent than the last. By the end, it seemed the writers were more interested in shocking deaths than actual story. So I hope they keep the real focus on what matters most: the plot.

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