Walking Dead Diversity Watch – 7.0

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In the past, there’s been a lot of debate about the diversity in the Walking Dead TV series, often focusing on the “revolving door” of PoC characters throughout the early seasons. Although there definitely was a trend that was rather disturbing, I decided to take an objective look at the numbers. The original “diversity watch” occurred via notes on social media, so this is the first time I’ve moved it over to my public blog. Here everyone can see a statistical analysis of the 219 named characters and their demographic trends.

Total Racial and Gender Demographics

  • White – 77.06%
  • Black – 12.84%
  • Latino – 7.80%
  • Asian – 2.29%

As you can see, the TV show follows the typical White majority often found in entertainment. Although Caucasians do make up a majority, current U.S. demographics show they are nowhere near as strongly skewed as the cast. Most importantly, there should be much more Asian and Latino representation.

  • Male – 68.81%
  • Female – 31.81%

In addition, the 2:1 Male-to-Female ratio is obviously way off compared to U.S. (or even global) demographics.

However, when you look at the individual demographics you find that the living vs. dead rate is more in favor of PoC and female characters.

Percent Alive, Dead, or Unknown

  • White – 19.64% Alive, 74.40% Dead, and 5.95% Unknown
  • Black 25.00% Alive, 64.29% Dead, and 10.71% Unknown
  • Latino 11.76% Alive, 29.41% Dead, and 58.82% Unknown
  • Asian 40% Alive, 40% Dead, and 20% Unknown

As you can see, almost 3/4 of the White characters have ended up dead, followed by almost 2/3 of Black characters. Despite that latter fact, Black characters have mostly stayed alive, with 1 out of 4 making it, a rate only behind the Asian characters (thanks solely to Glenn). Sadly, Latinos appear to be most often left unknown as background or forgotten characters.

  • Male – 19.33% Alive, 68.67% Dead, and 12.00% Unknown
  • Female – 22.06% Alive, 69.12% Dead, and 8.82% Unknown

Gender-wise, men and women fare about the same. Female characters tend to be alive or dead slightly more often, while male characters have a small chance more to be left fate unknown.

The reason behind these trends is the average lifespan of characters. Although there are far more White male characters, most of them only last for a short bit, whereas the minority characters often make it much further.

Lifespan (in Episodes) of Characters

  • Average Lifespan – 10.99
  • White – 10.30
  • Black – 16.54
  • Latino – 5.82
  • Asian – 20.60

As can be seen, White characters are just below the average, only above Latino characters (most of whom are simply fate unknown). Black characters, on the other hand, have a lifespan50% further than the average. Asian characters have the best lifespan, but that is skewed by their small population and the single, consistent character: Glenn.

  • Male – 9.67
  • Female – 13.90

Here we see that men fare slightly worse than average, often only lasting about 1/2 a season. In comparison, women fare much better, making it almost an entire season.

Going into further detail, we can rank the characters by their lifespan to determine importance. (Note: By lifespan, we’re counting first episode to most recent episode, ignoring any gaps in between. Actual screen presence is a different matter and far harder to calculate.)

Grade of Character (A through E)

A-Grade Characters (42+ Episodes – Main characters; half the series or more)

  • White – 66.67%
  • Black – 25.00%
  • Latino – 0%
  • Asian – 8.33%

B-Grade Characters (21+ Episodes – Supporting characters; a season or more)

  • White – 70.00%
  • Black – 20.00%
  • Latino – 10.00%
  • Asian – 0%

C-Grade Characters (10+ Episodes – Supporting or minor; half a season or more)

  • White – 83.33%
  • Black – 16.67%
  • Latino – 0%
  • Asian – 0%

D-Grade Characters (5+ Episodes – Minor or background; small story arcs)

  • White – 73.81%
  • Black – 14.29%
  • Latino – 4.76%
  • Asian – 7.14%

E-Grade Characters (1+ Episodes – Background or fodder; around for a short bit)

  • White – 78.70%
  • Black – 8.33%
  • Latino – 12.04%
  • Asian – 0.93%

As you can see, Whites still dominate all categories, but they mostly represent C-grade and E-grade categories. These are often half-season supporting cast (e.g. Patricia and Jimmy, Lizzie and Mika, Deanna, etc.) or  episodic background and fodder characters (e.g. Woodbury and Prison residents, Terminus cannibals, etc.). Blacks show up more as A-Grade and B-Grade categories. They’re often supporting characters for a season or more (e.g. T-Dog and Tyreese), or move on to become main characters (e.g. Michonne and Sasha). Asians are, as usual, skewed by Glenn; other than his presence as a main character, the rest are relegated to the background. Latinos have it the worst, with only a single almost-main character (Rosita) and the rest background characters that simply disappeared after a few episodes or single story arcs.

A-Grade Characters (42+ Episodes – Main characters; half the series or more)

  • Male – 41.67%
  • Female – 58.33%

B-Grade Characters (21+ Episodes – Supporting characters; a season or more)

  • Male – 70.00%
  • Female – 30.00%

C-Grade Characters (10+ Episodes – Supporting or antagonists; half a season or more)

  • Male – 58.33%
  • Female – 41.67%

D-Grade Characters (5+ Episodes – Antagonists or background; small story arcs)

  • Male – 69.05%
  • Female – 30.95%

E-Grade Characters (1+ Episodes – Background or fodder; around for a short bit)

  • Male – 75.00%
  • Female – 25.00%

Among gender, the demographics still lean toward males dominating almost every category except one: main characters. For characters that have lasted more than half the series, women slightly edge out men.

Thoughts

In review, Walking Dead suffers from most of pop culture, in that they usually cast White males… in everything from bit parts to leads. In contrast, however, those characters are more likely to end up dead than minority roles and have a slightly lower than average “life span”. Black characters, despite the “revolving door” of earlier seasons, have become much more resilient as the show progresses. Asian characters appear to have the best chance, but solely because of small population and a single character. Latinos are probably the worst demographic, with small population, limited lifespan, and a tendency to simply be relegated to “unknown” with no further resolution or development.

As always, this is a continuing project that is regularly updated as new characters, episodes, and statistics arise.

Bonus Facts (Spoilers!)

Who are the top 10 “Grade A” characters in lifespan?

  • Glen Rhee (83 episodes)
  • Morgan Jones (83 episodes)
  • Rick Grimes (83 episodes)
  • Carl Grimes (83 episodes)
  • Carol Peletier (81 episodes)
  • Daryl Dixon (81 episodes)
  • Maggie Greene (76 episodes)
  • Michonne (65 episodes)
  • Judith Grimes (61 episodes)
  • Sasha Williams (57 episodes)

Which 10 dead characters made it the furthest?

  • Beth Greene (52 episodes)
  • Hershel Greene (36 episodes)
  • Andrea (34 episodes)
  • Tyreese Williams (34 episodes)
  • Merle Dixon (33 episodes)
  • Lori Grimes (23 episodes)
  • T-Dog (22 episodes)
  • The Governor (22 episodes)
  • Shumpert (21 episodes)
  • Caesar Martinez (21 episodes)

Who are the longest living characters in each racial demographic?

  • White – Rick & Carl Grimes
  • Black – Morgan Jones
  • Latino – Rosita Espinosa
  • Asian – Glenn Rhee

Who are the longest-running groups with an unknown fate?

  • Grady Memorial Hospital (Season 5)
  • Morales Family (Season 1)

 

 

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