SPOILERS for the most recent episode.
Last night in a heartbreaking, despairing episode of The Walking Dead, the series lost another major character, Tyreese, who is played by Chad Coleman. As has been the case ever since T-Dog was killed off, however, there are often grumblings about the show’s tendency to kill off African-American characters (this was a particular problem in the early episodes of the series).
However, as the NYPost pointed out (and as others have suggested, as well), The Walking Dead has done such a decent job of correcting earlier hiring practices that — with only 5 white males of the 15 major characters remaining on the show — the series often has little choice but to kill off minority characters because they make up such a large percentage of the cast. As recent as the second episode of the season, there was Bob, Sasha, Michonne, Gabriel, Noah, and Tyreese (not to mention Morgan, who is wondering through the forest) and since that time, two of the three characters that have died were black.
But in both instances — especially with Tyreese — those characters had felt like they’d run their course, so to speak. I loved Tyreese, but there was little left for him to do on the show, and as I suggested in my write up, it made sense to kill off the moral center of the show if the characters are headed down a darker path toward a period in which they lose their humanity in an effort to survive.
At any rate, some people complained that Tyreese had been killed off because he was black, and this time, producer Gale Ann Hurd decided to speak to the issue, via E!:
“Look, this is something in this world that we should be cognizant about, so my feeling is: Sure, let’s get it out there, let’s talk about it,” Hurd told me. “We’ve killed a lot more white characters than African-American characters. And not only that, I think it’s important to point out that we did cast two African-American actors in roles that were not African-American. In the comic books, Bob was white. And the character of Noah was not an African-American. We just cast the best actor.”
Hurd wouldn’t comment on any new actors coming on board, but pointed out that, “Noah is still alive and so is Seth Gilliam, playing Father Gabriel. And obviously both Sasha and Michonne. And let’s not forget the character of Glenn has been on the show since the very beginning.”
You know what? Fair enough. It is a show, I believe, that has had a major correction since its first two seasons, quietly becoming one of the more diverse cast on television.
I think the real problem here is that the producers hate actors from The Wire, since two of the last three characters are alumns of that series, which means that Father Gabriel best watch his back (but seriously, he really is ripe for killing).