‘The Walking Dead’: Who Are the New Characters?

The Walking Dead 905, “What Comes After,” bid farewell to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) before introducing a new pack of characters ported over from the comic book.

TWD Magna Group
(Photo: AMC)

Following a multi-year jump into the future after Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh) and a rescued Rick flew off into the horizon aboard a helicopter to parts unknown, five battered survivors are seen scurrying through a clearing, barely keeping one step ahead of an encroaching throng of walkers.

The pack fights in tandem, slashing and slicing, displaying a clear shorthand: they’ve been together for quite some time.

When the hungry corpses become too overwhelming, the fivesome back into a circle, completely surrounded — when muffled shots ring out, felling walkers and opening a hole the survivors quickly use to their advantage.

Breathless, they meet their savior: a pint-sized warrior who lifts a familiar-looking sheriff’s hat off the ground. “You got names?”

“What’s yours?” asks the bewildered pack leader, prompting the girl to introduce herself as Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming).

The arrival of the group, comprised of leader Magna (The 100’s Nadia Hilker), Yumiko (Wonder Woman’s Eleanor Matsuura), Luke (Fantastic Beast’s Dan Fogler), and sisters Connie (Children of a Lesser God’s Lauren Ridloff) and Kelly (newcomer Angel Theory), now signals The Walking Dead’s real new beginning as the series moves on without Rick Grimes.

TWD Magna Group

(Left to right: Kelly, Yumiko, Luke, Connie, and Magna. Photo: Image Comics.)

“It’s been really fun for us to work on this new group that comes in. Magna and Yumiko are fan favorites. And then we really were into the idea of having an interesting group that’s with them. Luke, Connie, and Kelly,” showrunner Angela Kang told EW.

“Those are all characters in the comic book. It’s our sort of take on them. And what’s been great is obviously [Kirkman] is so generous about how we adapt his comics. None of these characters are literal to the way they are in the comic book, but they’re still true to the spirit of these characters. And we really like the idea of having a group that felt kind of different from the other groups that we’ve seen come up on the show.”

Unlike her comic book counterpart, this Connie is deaf and communicates through sign language, as does actress Ridloff, who is deaf. And unlike her comic book counterpart, who was a man and Connie’s boyfriend, Kelly is instead Connie’s alert and protective sister.

“We thought it’d be really great to have a group that knows how to communicate in a different way,” Kang said. “All of these characters in some ways know some [American Sign Language], and they sign to each other. They’re just so tight. They have leaned on each other.”

The group was first introduced in The Walking Dead #127, the first issue of Volume 22, A New Beginning, which signaled a time jump following the defeat of Negan and the Saviors.

Magna and her tight crew of travelers were first encountered by Jesus in the Washington D.C. area before they integrated into the Alexandria Safe-Zone after overcoming their initial suspicions — similar to those held by Rick and company when they first arrived to Alexandria, believing the walled-off community was too good to be true.

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Magna and the others go on to become accepted members of the community, where most of them continue to play ongoing roles in the series. Audiences will learn more about Magna and her group in 906, “Who Are You Now?,” where they will be welcomed into Alexandria and interviewed by Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam).

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.