One Black Man At A Time: Tracking The Walking Dead’s Real Diversity Problem


AMC’s The Walking Dead is a television show lauded by critics and fans alike for a handful of reasons, namely a combination of tense human drama coupled with some of the best makeup and gore effects on TV. The show has been running for five seasons over the course of five years, and office water cooler conversations and New York Comic Con cosplay can confirm the apocalyptic odyssey’s ubiquity in popular culture.

The Walking Dead has also been noted for its progressively diverse cast of characters across genders and ethnicities. From characters like the katana-wielding Michonne (Danai Gurira) to the resourceful Glenn (Steven Yeun), the show has covered its bases by populating its post-apocalyptic world with a healthy mix of men and women from all across the racial spectrum.

That being said, why does the show seem to have a problem with having more than one main Black male character at a time?

As Nerds of Color points out in their article “The Walking Dead’s Ongoing Black Man Problem,” the show has a tendency to bump off Black male characters as soon as more than one enter the picture:  “After three seasons, this weird pattern borders on the comedic cliche and show in-joke: a central Black male character can only be introduced if the show’s previous Black man is bumped off, a pattern I (and others) have dubbed the ‘One Black Man at a Time’ rule.” If there’s more than one Black male character at any given time on this show, you know it’s only a matter of time before one of them gets killed off to make room for the next one.

It might seem a little far-fetched, but the patterns have become a little too predictable to ignore. Is there really a predictable pattern here that you can set your watch to? Does this zombie apocalypse really bend over backwards in an attempt to keep Black men apart? Read on as we attempt to suss out The Walking Dead’s real diversity problem.


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Theodore “T-Dog” Douglas (played by IronE Singleton, season 1-3, introduced in “Guts”, killed in “Killer Within”)


T-Dog is the residential Black guy for the show’s first three seasons; he’s the reason that Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) lost his left arm, but other than that, his characterization begins and ends at The Muscle.

He reached his untimely end after being attacked by a group of walkers at the prison, around the same time we’re introduced to…

Oscar (played by Vincent Ward, season 3, introduced in “Seed,” killed in “Made To Suffer”)


Oscar is one of the prisoners holding down the fort when Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his group of survivors (including T-Dog) arrive. Being the friendliest of the group,

OscarShotOscar joins up with the main Survivors for a couple of episodes before being dispatched by walkers, just before the revelation of…

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