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Violent loss can become numbingly commonplace in a world overrun by flesh-craving corpses. We're nine episodes into season five, and hardened survivor Rick Grimes's travel-fatigued group has lost three major members. Bob was eaten, both by the living and the undead. Beth caught a bullet during a hostage exchange gone awry. Tyreese finally decided to turn off the news.
If the showrunners kept up their current pace of killing off characters without adding in fresh blood from time to time, viewers would quickly be left with no one else to mourn. But changes to the show's roster are not all subtractions, and new characters like Gabriel and Noah joined in the first half of this season. Now, with the group still reeling from back-to-back deaths and wandering toward Washington seeking hope and purpose, a seemingly friendly stranger named Aaron arrived at the very end of the last episode with an offer of "good news."
Readers of The Walking Dead graphic novels will recognize Aaron as the recruiter for the Alexandria Safe-Zone, a locale that serves as the staging point for all of the comic book's major plotlines to come. If Rick and his group are headed to Alexandria, the path is clear for the show to start bringing in a wide new cast of major comic book characters. Assuming the show is moving in that direction, here are a few characters who could provide some exciting new interactions in upcoming episodes and seasons of The Walking Dead.
Eric In the books, Aaron doesn't travel alone when he's recruiting new people for the Alexandria Safe-Zone. The fact that Aaron has now introduced himself to Sasha and Maggie on the show means that his partner/emergency backup, Eric, is likely nearby, waiting to see how things turn out.Eric will almost certainly be the next new face introduced to the group before (if) they enter the Alexandria Safe-Zone. His partnership with Aaron could give the show writers an opportunity to explore the struggles of establishing and maintaining a same-sex relationship in a post-apocalyptic world.
Douglas Monroe Readers will know Douglas Monroe as the leader of the Alexandria Safe-Zone when Rick's group arrives. Douglas was a congressman from Ohio before the zombie outbreak and, as written, has a leadership style that might prove challenging for Rick to accept after facing so much hardship on the road. Having Douglas as a foil could help demonstrate Rick's pragmatic leadership and reaffirm why, even in a relatively peaceful situation, he maintains authority within his group.
Jessie Anderson Traveling abandoned highways skirting death on a daily basis, new romances are difficult to come by. Singles who haven't recently lost significant others to cannibals are in short supply, and lacking consistent food, water or shelter, the show's survivors have had other concerns vying for their attention.
Jessie, a resident of the Alexandria Safe-Zone, isn't technically single, but she may still serve as a romantic interest in upcoming episodes. A conflict between Rick's group and Jessie's less-than-chivalrous husband Pete could lead to some intriguing domestic drama and help to solidify the group's status in its new community.
Paul 'Jesus' Monroe Jesus is formidable. In his comic debut, he proves himself to be a talented martial artist and survivor. Like Aaron, Jesus is a recruiter and ambassador for a community of survivors living on the outskirts of Washington.
Jesus's hand-to-hand fighting skills alone would make his on-screen presence exciting, but Jesus also serves as a point of introduction to a broader network of survivors outside the Alexandria Safe-Zone and eventually becomes one of Rick's most trusted and capable allies when serious conflict arises.
'King' Ezekiel and Shiva Ezekiel is the leader of the community called The Kingdom. Calling himself a "king" and speaking with all of the pretentiousness that entails, Ezekiel is written to be an intentionally over the top character.
Ezekiel's flair for the dramatic would make his introduction on the show memorable, but if the show remains true to the books, his more human moments with one of our favorite characters could expand his appeal as a character beyond simple theatrics.
Also, Ezekiel has a pet tiger named Shiva, and television currently suffers from a shameful dearth of tiger vs. zombie action.
Negan (and Lucille) Rivaled only by The Governor, Negan is the most brutal enemy Rick and his group have faced in the comics.
Negan firmly establishes his unequivocal villainy in the comics with displays of force that are grotesque, even by The Walking Dead's gory standards. He perpetrates some particularly stomach-turning violence with the help of his barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat, Lucille.
If and when Negan appears on the TV series, it will be a challenge for showrunners to match the intensity of the vulgarity he exhibits on the books' pages without being able to make use of the highly colorful and somewhat limited vocabulary that does so much to define his character.
It will take some time for the shattered group on the show to get themselves on solid enough footing to stand up to someone like Negan, so it will probably be a while before he is introduced on screen, but once he is, his antagonism will likely redefine the course of the series, if the comic is any indication.
Editor's Note: This one is happening! Since we first wrote this story, the show announced Negan would arrive on the show in 2016, played by actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan.