The Walking Dead Gives Princess Her Heartbreaking Comic Book Backstory

The Walking Dead reveals the traumatic backstory behind Princess (Paola Lázaro), the lone survivor encountered by Eugene's (Josh McDermitt) group while en route to Charleston, West Virginia. When we meet the purple-haired heroine earlier in Season 10, Princess — real name Juanita Sanchez — reveals herself as a longtime loner who makes an abandoned city "feel more alive" with the rotting walkers she uses as colorful decorations. Joining Eugene, King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), the first living people she's seen in over a year, Princess is part of the mission to meet a new community when her new friends are captured by white-armored soldiers.

Locked inside a spacious train car in the railyard where they were supposed to rendezvous with Stephanie (Margot Bingham), a claustrophobic Princess tries to keep an injured Yumiko from succumbing to a head injury by talking to her through the wall. When she was 14, Princess was confined to a small and dark space and received a bad splinter for scratching at the inside of a doorjamb.

Because her home life was "no bueno," Princess preferred being at school around cool kids like the girl who taught her how to dye her hair. Kept home with a twice-infected hand, Princess recalls while picking at wood, her inattentive mother did and said nothing when her cruel stepfather laughed her away from the dinner table with a "cold, mean laugh."

"I said, 'No way, man. You can't push me away. This was my house first.' He smacked me hard… right across my jaw," a teary Princess reveals, holding a jaw that was fractured more than once. "So I said to my mom, 'Hey, you gonna do something? Anything? Please don't send me out to the garage to eat by myself.' So my mom said, 'So don't eat.'"

When Princess turns the tables on a rookie trooper (Cameron Roberts), she attacks the armored soldier and beats him with a warcry: "No one's gonna hurt me anymore." Making a run for it, Princess debates leaving behind the friends she made only one week earlier. Manifesting her conscience in the form of Ezekiel, she looks at the splinter in her hand when "Ezekiel" tells her: "You're good on your own."

"I'm a goddamn superhero on my own," she spits back, talking to no one. "But if I leave, it makes me just like her, don't it?" It makes her just like mom, Imaginary Ezekiel says, going back and forth between mom being a survivor and a monster.

"You remember what it was like. We had to learn our lessons the hard way. Take your freedom," says the devil on her shoulder. But Princess remembers the good ones.

"Maybe not mom, or Douggie. But not everyone was bad. There was Miss Travis. Sammy and his people. And them." Her friends came back for her, so she's going back for them.

Freeing the young grunt she assaulted, Princess tells the soldier small, dark spaces do things to her head and that she's not crazy: "There's the ADHD, the anxiety, the PTSD, the depression, the crushing loneliness, and the active imagination that helps me cope with all of that, but like… maybe that's the only sane response to an insane world."

The Walking Dead issue 187 Princess
(Photo: Image Comics)

In The Walking Dead issue #187, Princess opens up about her abusive childhood when she reveals why she's unusually cheery in the zombie apocalypse. Similar to her TV counterpart, Princess of the comics was abused by her stepfather and an older "evil stepbrother" who took turns beating her in-between locking her inside of a closet.

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"Because that was my life for so long... I don't let the darkness into my life if I can help it. That's why I'm so cheerful," Princess says. "If I'm happy, it seems to make others chill out a little and... be happy."

Princess will return in the eleventh and final season of The Walking Dead when it premieres this summer on AMC. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD.