An interview with Steven Yeun has confirmed the massive mistake The Walking Dead made with its depiction of Glenn Rhee. Played by Yeun, Glenn was one of Rick’s closest allies during the show’s first six seasons. His story came to a tragic end in the season 7 premiere when he was gruesomely murdered by Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan.
Like his counterpart in The Walking Dead comics, Glenn was an integral part of the show and every major conflict Rick’s group became involved in between season 1 and season 6. His importance to the series and its overarching story made what happened in the season 7 premiere one of the show’s most memorable moments. Even by the end of the show’s 11-season run, Glenn is still one of the biggest characters killed off by the series. And though his ending was in keeping with the direction taken by the source material, the decision to end his story in the way that it did was still met with controversy.
Yeun Is Right – Walking Dead Didn’t Use Glenn Properly
Comments made by Yuen in an interview call back to his time as Glenn on The Walking Dead and how the show approached his character’s journey. Yuen claimed that instead of “engaging with Glenn’s humanity,” he felt that he was “serving a concept of goodness.” This remark highlights a fundamental issue with his portrayal, and the limits put on his character growth in the series. In a sense, Glenn was the heart of the show and the group’s moral compass. When Rick, Shane, Andrea and the others deviated from the moral path, Glenn was a reminder that concepts like right and wrong still matter in The Walking Dead’s world.
Essentially, this role is what defined Glenn’s story in The Walking Dead. While it admittedly made him into one of the show’s most likable characters, it was also a roadblock. Not held to the same standards, Carol and Rick, for example, developed into some of the show’s most nuanced characters, but they never would have reached that point if the show didn’t take risks with their stories. Glenn didn’t have the same level of dimensions to him that these characters (and others) were afforded in The Walking Dead’s run.
The Walking Dead Wasting Glenn Made His Death Worse
The Walking Dead’s unfortunate handling of Glenn’s character added to the issues attached to his death in the season 7 premiere. By effectively making Rick’s group slaves to Negan and the Saviors, The Walking Dead opened the door for all sorts of internal struggles for Rick and his allies to endure. Given that Glenn had thus far been a voice of optimism and a force of good within the group, Negan’s arrival most likely would have been the greatest test he had ever faced. Exploring how he would overcome it – or if he even could – would have been an excellent storytelling opportunity ripe with standout character moments for Glenn.
NEXT: How Bad Negan Can Return In The Walking Dead’s Spinoff (Properly)