If ‘The Walking Dead’ ever kills off Jerry, we have failed as a society
There's been a library's worth of material written about how The Walking Dead's seventh season has been disappointing. Count me among its critics. We've had a little too much Negan, ineffective world-building and justifiable accusations of torture porn.
However, not every aspect of season seven has been dispiriting. We were introduced to the Kingdom: an infectiously cheerful community led by an ostentatious leader who owns a pet tiger named Shiva. At the Kingdom, every meal is cobbler, and everyone wears clunky makeshift body armor straight out of the world's worst renaissance fair. (But it's for protection, too!)
Most importantly, the Kingdom has Jerry.
Not since Parks & Recreation has a Jerry on television meant so much to so many people. The Walking Dead's Jerry is the unabashedly joyful right hand man to King Ezekiel, and, despite his limited screen time, he's blessed fans with some of the best lines of the season. In the latest episode, "New Best Friends," fellow Kingdom-goer Benjamin whacks a Savior with his staff after a brief tussle occurred during the two communities' exchange. Ezekiel scolds him, stating that just because he can wield the weapon doesn't mean he should be quick to use it.
Jerry, however, had a more uplifting outlook on the situation: "You sick with the stick, man," he tells Benjamin. Ezekiel, almost immediately, barks at Jerry to come back to his side.
Later, after Ezekiel lets Carol know that members of the Kingdom are killing zombies near her home as a way to keep her solitude unperturbed, Jerry offers Carol a shitload of cobbler. He was really, really stoked she accepted the generous bounty.
Twitter was, as per usual, in awe of the happiest man in the zombie apocalypse.
The last tweet, however, really hits home: What if Jerry dies? Would fans be able to recover, or would The Walking Dead begin to lose even more viewers akin to the brutal deaths of Abraham and Glenn? One can't imagine the backlash of a character so devoted to puns, cobbler and having a good time being killed off.
This is why the fans need to take a stand — and with a familiar tune: If Jerry dies, we riot.
Yes, that term was coined for the fans' love of Daryl Dixon. And make no mistake, Daryl is still quite beloved. However, the concern over Daryl's safety in the show needs to be put to rest. He was arguably at his most vulnerable ahead of the big Negan reveal — some theorized he may be killed by Negan's bat — and not only survived that ordeal, but punched the new villain in the face (which got Glenn killed, but I guess we all make mistakes, Daryl!). It's hard to envision the show killing him off anytime soon.
Like Daryl, Jerry is a character created for the show, and thus has no comic book backstory. This leaves Jerry's fate — unlike, say, Ezekiel and his tiger Shiva, who will probably follow their comic book storylines to a decent extent — somewhat ambiguous. But aside from making the audience miserable, which AMC has done plenty across seven seasons, there's no reason Jerry ought to be killed off.
His joyfulness notwithstanding — and to be clear, that's a huge part of his appeal — Jerry is also the perfect audience avatar. He treats the zombie apocalypse like it's a game, or to be even more meta about it, acts like he's in a TV show. He cracks jokes because, let's be honest, everything about this show is absurd, and the series teeters more toward camp than prestige drama.
Jerry is a vehicle for The Walking Dead's campiest tendencies, which the show needs to recognize as one of its greatest strengths. To that end, the best moments of season seven have been extended looks at the Kingdom, its CGI tiger and all its glorious cobbler. Plus, Rick fighting a gladiator zombie and cutting through zombies with a steel wire at a record pace was mindlessly entertaining.
If The Walking Dead truly understands what's best for its long-term success, and what will keep fans happy, Jerry needs to stay alive for the foreseeable future. Long live our cobbler-loving beacon of joy.