We are a piffling few days away from the return of The Walking Dead, which is smack dab in the middle of its craziest (and arguably most uneven) season yet. The stakes are extremely high for every single breathing person on the show, with Alexandria getting overrun by walkers and those outside the community being introduced to a dangerous new threat. So before things get too serious within the Walking Dead fan community, let’s spend our last days in the hiatus by bitching about how terrible the children on this show are. Yes, I’m sinking to childish levels to take this on.
What follows are all of the noteworthy children from The Walking Dead’s past, ranked by how awful they are/were. We’re not necessarily ripping on actors here, and we’re not talking about every single kid who appeared on the show. I didn’t even include good ol’ Jimmy McCune, because he was more forgettable than awful. In any case, get some ice and keep massaging that vein in your forehead as you read on.
Though actress Emily Kinney was in her mid-20s for her first Walking Dead scenes, she was playing 16-year-old Beth Greene, a sheltered farm girl whose naivety quickly drained once the world’s horrors hit home. And I think it’s the actress’ age that helped Beth not become overly stereotypical as the suicidal teenager, or overly hokey as the girl whose first experience with alcohol is an emotional one. Beth later went through as much character growth as anyone else on this show, which made her death as shocking as it was, but she spent a good while there being pretty uninteresting and non-essential. Since that’s her biggest flaw, though, she gets bottom seed.
If you’re talking about awful children, you can’t get much worse than a reanimated one who doesn’t know how to do anything but feed. I mean, that’s basically every infant (except for the reanimated part in most cases), but Penny Blake was a major source of the Governor’s shattered mental state. The dude was clearly going to go berserk at some point anyway, and her tethered existence wasn’t exactly her fault, but Penny’s constant drooling and unloving company presumably led the Governor to do some of those horrifyingly irreversible things to good people like Hershel. I’m sure that normal Penny wouldn’t have deserved Michonne’s blade through the back of her head, but no one’s complaining about it now.
I don’t just sit around hating babies, guys. In fact, Judith should be championed for being silent unless a scene inexplicably calls for crying, but that’s not what gnaws at the inner wall of my skull when someone says her name. Her presence adds less than zilch to any progressing plotlines, and though her calamitous birth made for a standout scene that killed off Lori and added a vertebrae to Carl’s backbone, she’s since become solely the thing that people have to hold and keep safe and feed somehow. That’s not where I want the show to ground its reality, and I would forgive showrunner Scott Gimple for writing her out without an explanation, Family Matters’ Judy-style.
In today’s world, there is no shortage in sight to teenagers who think they know it all because they, like, have been through a lot, okay? Enter Enid, the turtle-eater. You’d think the end of a functioning society would be enough to spin a sour mind around to focus on the greater good, but Enid is going to Enid by just surviving somehow, even if it means blowing off “friends” who get pissed because they have literally no one else to hang out with. Enid is like Suicidal Beth times ten, only without any real urge to off herself, which is another mark against. It’s possible a redeeming transformation could come if she listens to Glenn and lives long enough. But it’s pitsville for now.
Sophia was the last hurdle before Carol’s transition from victim to warrior could begin, so she definitely served a good purpose in that respect. But never has a show or a character made me feel so apathetic and dismissive of child abduction as I felt when Sophia went missing; it was like the opposite of a post-Unsolved Mysteries viewing. When she was around all the time, Sophia was boring at best, and though her tragic fate was interesting within a thought process, it made for eye-dryingly boring television up until the point when her corpse-ish self walked out of that barn. Maybe it was the writers’ fault and not Sophia’s, but she wasn’t nearly important enough to anchor such a potentially meaningful series of events. Go Carol, though.
It makes all the sense that Ron and Enid were introduced around the same time, since they’re both total plugs that would naturally flock together. Through no real fault of actor Austin Abrams, who definitely turns the fuckwit knob up to 11, Ron is given too little time to go from chill dude with video games to Public Enemy No. 1 for the gentlemen Grimes. No one is discrediting his father-mourning motivations, but everybody’s got problems in this world, and Ron’s dillweed resting face doesn’t need to be so permanently present. If you are the dude that a girl loses interest in for Carl, then you are the worst, and the only reason Ron isn’t higher on this list is because he’s only been sucking lemons for a handful of episodes.
3 & 4. Lizzie and Mika
It’s so very necessary for these two to go together here, since the impression Lizzie and Mika left on viewers was as one depressing family unit. Waves of discomfort wafted from these sisters, who handled the apocalypse in different ways: one refused to kill walkers and thought she could communicate with then, while the other one wasn’t batshit insane. Empathy aside, as it has been from the beginning of this, Lizzie was a total creepshow due to an unsettling combination of performance and written character, and she totally killed her sister, sparking another insta-classic Walking Dead scene set to the tune of flowers. Mika wasn’t that bad, true, but Lizzie was terrible enough to make up for that and another two Samuels siblings.
Carl, Carl Carl. I have been hating the piss out of this dude for so many years now that every so often I unwittingly let my guard down and allow the permeation of hope that he’ll do something amazing. But it never happens, people. I know that Carl has a slew of adoring fans, and that’s perfectly fine for probably more than one tiny reason, but this kid has been responsible for characters’ deaths, as well as numerous close-call situations for others. He still pretty much never follows sound advice, his instincts are more rotten than Nicholas’ carcass, and the only reason he’s still around is source material nepotism. Luckily, Carl’s best days are coming, and I look forward to watching his scenes without a plastic bag around my head.
This fucking kid. Though Ron escaped this list’s top slots by not stomping on nerve endings for very long, his younger brother Sam vaulted to the peak almost immediately after being introduced. When you get right down to it, Jessie and Pete should not have combined their gene pools, and I can’t help but believe the DNA from a lumpy sack of potatoes was also a part of Sam’s conception process. Actor Major Dodson’s wide and worried eyes are beyond perfect for making Sam look like he’s eternally caught between earnest misunderstanding and boundless yearning for affection. That might work with some characters, but this dude su-u-u-ucks. His main narrative thrust has been pissing Carol off while she’s baking and also just kind of hiding out and avoiding reality. If he’s the cause behind people going down in the midseason premiere, then I’m going to laminate his place on this list, along with membership cards to my treehouse clubhouse.
The Walking Dead returns for the remainder of Season 6 on Sunday, February 14, on AMC.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.