The Walking Dead is facing criticism for killing Tara (Alanna Masterson), a lesbian character captured and then murdered by Alpha (Samantha Morton) and the Whisperers.
A veteran of the show since its fourth season in 2013, Tara was one of ten victims whose decapitated head was gruesomely displayed on a pike as part of a border marking Whisperer territory. Now some viewers are again arguing Tara’s death is representative of the “bury your gays” trope after The Walking Dead killed off Jesus (Tom Payne), who was gay, midway through Season Nine.
When explaining why those ten victims were selected as Alpha’s victims, showrunner Angela Kang said Tara was specifically targeted by Alpha as she had stepped up as interim Hilltop leader following Jesus’ death and Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) exit. The Hilltop drew Alpha’s ire for first capturing and jailing daughter Lydia (Cassidy McClincy) and then reneging on a deal when Henry (Matt Lintz) — also one of Alpha’s victims — reclaimed the teen girl from the Whisperers.
“Story-wise in this case, Alpha’s goal was to terrorize the communities and force them to comply with her rules,” Kang said. “So there’s a mix of strategic murders, with Tara, random with Enid (Katelyn Nacon), and vengeance-driven with Henry.”
Kang earlier defended The Walking Dead when it came under fire for Jesus’ death in November, leaving Aaron (Ross Marquand) as the sole prominent openly gay male character.
“We’re proud we had this wonderful character. He’s one of my favorite characters from the comic books as well,” she told THR.
“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.”
As the first victim claimed by the Whisperers, pushing the survivors into conflict with a new enemy, Jesus’ death was a mix of story reasons and Payne’s mutual decision to leave.
“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.”
The Walking Dead has a long history of LGBTQ representation: beyond Jesus, Tara, and Aaron, the series has previously included Tara girlfriends Alisha (Juliana Harkavy) and Denise (Merritt Wever), and Aaron’s boyfriend Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson).
In Season Nine, the series introduced girlfriends Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) and Magna (Nadia Hilker), who serve as prominent characters moving forward, alongside the deaf Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and her hard-of-hearing sister Kelly (Angel Theory).
“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,” Matsuura recently told Variety at PaleyFest. “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.”
The Walking Dead returns with its tenth season this October on AMC.
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
i cant believe that eugene, a straight man™ outlived tara, a gay legend ™— filip (@aIexisc) March 25, 2019
eugene, may i add, is also the worst the walking dead character. the writers are homophobic idc. they killed off jesus too, also a gay legend ™
I LITERALLY DO NOT CARE ABOUT ANYONE WHO DIED EXCEPT ENID AND TARA WHY DID THE SMARTEST DOCTOR AND ANOTHER HILLTOP LEADER DIE (also @ the walking dead stop killing the gays off) #TheWalkingDead— khalil (@khvl1l) March 25, 2019
enid and tara died on the walking dead. not that i care about enid’s death but how many gay people are twd gonna kill off looool— alex ✨ (@8lexnicole) March 25, 2019
Thoughts on this last season of the walking dead. The first big problem this season I would say is that it pretty much went all in on bury your gays, and not in a good way.— ?️?Jeremy Lawrence Redlien?️? (@queerthecloset) April 2, 2019
I just watched last night's #walkingdead. My DVR only recorded the first hour so imagine my surprise at the memoriam I just saw on the #TalkingDead. Tara, really?! I should've known a spot was opening up in the gay character dept when I saw those 2 new female characters kiss! ?— AJ Hardison (@pixiejules77) March 26, 2019
I stopped watching when they were too scared to kill off Rick Grimes or Maggie.
It's weird they were too scared to do that but were fine to kill off all but one of their queer characters— Bog Witch Dog Witch (@EnbyDal) March 25, 2019
Have you subscribed to ComicBook Nation, the official Podcast of ComicBook.com yet? Check it out by clicking here or listen below.
In this latest episode, we talk about that Avengers: Endgame trailer, The Walking Dead and more! Make sure to subscribe now and never miss an episode!