Spoilers below for everything up to and including The Walking Dead's Season 7 mid-year premiere.
After all of the limited-scope episodes that The Walking Dead delivered to viewers in the first half of Season 7, we were more than ready for that midseason premiere, which brought dozens of characters back to the forefront. It was the sensible thing to do story-wise, as Rick's Alexandria crew aims to bring the pain to Negan and his Saviors, so a lot more bodies will need to join the cause. And there are a lot of characters that need to get in the action more during this whole messy ordeal.
As such, here are the 7 characters that The Walking Dead should keep around more, and in every episode. Both to continue expanding their stories and to give audiences a lot more of their signature moments. (When applicable, anyway.) Let's start things off with the best hair in the Hilltop.
Occasionally, new Walking Dead characters take time to make an impact on audiences, especially when there's a lot of anticipation coming from the comic book fans. Not the case with Jesus, who was immediately the coolest thing about the post-apocalypse when he arrived. Thankfully, Tom Payne has kept up the winning performances, keeping Jesus (or Paul, if you will) perfectly in tune with his source material counterpart's intelligence, groundedness and ability to whoop some ass. But even though he's basically always around, Jesus somehow isn't all up in everyone's business like he should be. I really hope this march to war fixes that up.
You guys remember the episode when Sasha was in a better place in life than everyone else? Probably not. In the back half of Season 7, she continues mourning the death of her friend and lover, but she's also using those feelings to inspire a move to revolt. Considering actress Sonequa Martin-Green is the lead in the upcoming TV series Star Trek: Discovery, her Walking Dead countdown is probably ticking, and Sasha deserves a fully fleshed-out arc if her days are indeed numbered. Even if they're not, I'm still up for watching Sasha punch Gregory in the face for ten minutes every episode.
The Kingdom has the most smiles per capita of any Walking Dead community, and one assumes Jerry is part of the cause for 95% of them. You've got to really work it to stand out alongside both Ezekiel and Shiva, and Jerry is applying to be the CEO. The Walking Dead offers comic relief in different ways, often of the dark variety, but no one is pure sunshine quite like Jerry is, so we want to see more, more, more. In Season 8, I fully expect The Kingdom to construct a comedy club and bar called Jerry's. No cover at Jerry's, guys. That should make Rick smile.
Perhaps the least used character on this list, Karen Ceesay's Bertie has only popped into two episodes so far, with her "big moment" coming in the midseason finale as she voiced her support for the rise against Negan and the Saviors. So this is less about what we've seen so far, and more about how she appears to be a TV stand-in for the comic's Brianna, the Hilltop Colony resident who is a friend and confidante to Maggie. Brianna is someone who's good for conversations and character development, and hasn't been forced to turn into a hardcore murderer like others. I'd like to see the same thing happen with Bertie.
This feels like the obvious follow-up to Bertie, doesn't it? The Walking Dead should be commended for saving Maggie from a long and drawn-out mourning period following Glenn's death, and she is thankfully already at a point where she could take over Hilltop, if it weren't for Gregory. Now that her transition period has happened mostly off-camera, I fully hope that the show grants her a bigger piece of the storyline moving forward, further solidifying Maggie as a standalone character without the need to always use Glenn as a crutch. She can talk about him with Bertie, sure, but I want to see Maggie take over in 2017.
Rooting for Walking Dead villains isn't always fun, since characters like Gareth and the Wolves were people who deserved to be pulled down a highway by their nostrils. But Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan is squarely in the "love to hate" category, and that appeal has definitely bled down to one of his head minions, Simon, whose mustache could lead its own community of other hair patches. (Grossest spinoff ever.) Steven Ogg is already tall and intimidating, so Simon's sadistic side was a lock, but he's also a poster child for faux charm, adding more of the dark hilarity that Jerry balances. (Yeah, Jerry!) If Simon and Negan were the only Saviors, I'd be content.
If we're talking mentally sound characters, Carol's name is getting whispered somewhere near the end of the conversation. Living adjacent to The Kingdom appears to have had a positive effect on her, though, so she may soon be in a spot to re-enter the narrative spotlight. And not just as Ezekiel's girlfriend or anything, but something far more meaty. The actress is too good in the part to continue being sidelined as an antisocial hermit, and now one that is offering stealth advice. I certainly get why someone in Carol's place would be like that, but I'm a TV viewer. One who wants more Carol.