SPOILER ALERT: This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS so turn back now if you aren’t caught up on ‘The Walking Dead’.
‘The Walking Dead’ might be down in viewers, but it keeps managing to stir up more than its fair share of controversy. In the penultimate episode of Season 9, fans said goodbye to ten of the show’s cast, most notably Katelyn Nacon’s Enid, Alanna Masterson’s Tara, and Matt Lintz’s Henry. While Henry might have been the character most emotionally embedded into current storylines, both Enid and Tara had been around a lot longer. Unfortunately, writers honestly didn’t seem to know what to do with them.
And in the case of Tara, her death was just the latest of a gay character on the show and came very quickly on the heels of the death of Jesus, and the introduction of two new lesbians, Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) and Magna (Nadia Hilker).
While that’s cool and all, Tara has really never amounted to much on the show, and only recently seemed to step into a position of prominence as the leader of Hilltop, following the death of Jesus and the disappearance of Maggie. So her one chance to really shine was cut short after she’d wallowed on the show for five seasons.
Recently, Matsuura, rightly, expressed excitement of bringing further diversity to the show, saying to Variety:
“Isn’t that cool? I feel like it’s very real when you watch a show and you see people of different colors, ages, abilities. That’s the real world we live in. Of course, we should see that on screen. I’m so grateful that those doors are finally being opened. I’m incredibly proud to be representing women, Asian women, the LGBTQ community. This is a big box ticked for me.”
Viewers, however, pointed out how “convenient” it was to introduce two new LGBTQ characters, while simultaneously killing off two existing characters, frequently using the hashtag #buryyourgays.
— Brittany Melia (@bkmelia8) March 25, 2019
THEY KILLED TARA, ONE OF MY FAVOURITE CHARACTERS AND ANOTHER GAY CHARACTER FUCK OFF #TheWalkingDead
— jordan (@jensmish) March 26, 2019
I was so fucking sure I was going to see Eziekel up there. Man. THe show shocked the shit out of me. And I was just really warming up to Tara as supreme ruler of the world! Why do they keep burying their gays!!! #TheWalkingDead
— Andrew Geczy (@AndrewGeczy) March 25, 2019
Mostly annoyed they killed off their only lesbian character after criminally underusing her for 5 seasons
The Walking Dead killing off 2/3s of their gay characters in one season is just more “bury your gays”
— Mouse: Sparkledog edition (@EnbyDal) March 25, 2019
— Syd (@squidr14) March 25, 2019
— Lauren (@feistymexarican) March 25, 2019
In the case of Jesus, the character portrayed by Tom Payne was never the ass-kicking ninja he was in the comic books. He was basically used as a sounding board for Maggie, so once Maggie Cohan’s character was written off, he had little purpose, and Payne asked to be let go.
Following the death of Jesus, ‘The Walking Dead’ showrunner Angela Kang replied:
“We’re proud we had this wonderful character. He’s one of my favorite characters from the comic books as well.
“For our writers who are LGBTQ, it’s something that mattered to them as well. We have a lot of wonderful diversity and representation on the show, and that’s something we’re very proud of. For a show that deals with issues of life and death and people who have heroic and surprising ends, it’s hard because almost anyone you kill on our show or write out is going to be part of some underrepresented group on TV. I wish all of TV would step up as well. We just tend to get a lot of attention for it.
“We still have multiple series regulars who are LGBTQ characters. It’s hard, because we love representation,” Kang said. “It’s important to us, both in front of and behind the camera. We can’t carry the entire load of representation for all of entertainment. We have to be able to tell our stories as well. It’s part of the story, that everyone’s impacted by these characters.”
As for Masterson, her reaction to her character’s death was typically amicable. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, she said:
“I was caught off guard for sure, but also excited for what the future holds. Tara has been extremely fun to bring to life… It was really fun to explore that [leadership] side of Tara. I wish we had gotten to explore that more, but I’m excited to see where the story goes from here.”
How do you feel about Tara and/or Jesus’ death on ‘The Walking Dead’? Were they justified, or did the writers simply not come up with enough things to do with them?