The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on television. However, as the title suggests, death is a fixture on the series and the show has become infamous for killing off its characters in sudden and unexpected ways.
We’ve all heard the cliché about Black people dying prematurely in horror films, and that sentiment wasn’t helped last season when Bob, Tyreese, and Noah went into that dying light in gruesome fashion. From Duane Jones being shot at the end of Night of the Living Dead to Samuel L. Jackson being eaten by a shark mid-inspirational speech in Deep Blue Sea, we’ve seen the cliché carried out time and time again.
However, The Hollywood Reporter confirms The Walking Dead is adding a new Black character, a supply runner for Alexandria named Heath. Heath will be played by Corey Hawkins, soon to be famous for playing Dr. Dre in the upcoming film, Straight Outta Compton.
Heath’s introduction to the show is intriguing on a number of fronts, as it points toward the comic book and television show becoming more intertwined with each other. In the comic, Heath is a major character during the “Alexandria Safe Zone” story arc, often partnering with Glenn on supply runs. He has an important relationship with the resident doctor. Heath represents an opportunity to see a fully realized Black character that at times has been missing from the show.
Heath’s impact on the overarching story may not be felt immediately, but his character becomes a major player down the line for Rick and company. Bob, Tyreese, and Noah all had nice moments last season, but a legit argument can be made that their best character moments came only in the episodes in which they died. This is one of the longtime complaints about the show in general. Heath can be the remedy for this dilemma—he has a rich history, and given time, he can be just as popular as Michonne or Morgan.
At the moment, The Walking Dead is a bit overcrowded, and any fan of the show knows another bloodletting is inevitable. However, with Hawkins’ star is on the rise, his casting points toward bigger plans.
Season six of The Walking Dead will premiere this fall on AMC.