Did The Walking Dead’s Glenn Really Die? On the Loss of a Great Asian Male TV Character

394490-the-walking-dead-glenn-and-maggieA week ago, I watched a collective gasp ripple across Twitter when real tragedy struck on The Walking Dead – when the impossible, the one thing that all of us insisted the show could never, ever, do did in fact happen.

Glenn died.

And not just any death – it was a bloody, brutal, horrible demise.

Now, I don’t watch The Walking Dead personally. (I’m super-sensitive to violence and would probably end up with some gruesome zombie nightmares!) But a part of me has always depended on Glenn’s existence in the TV landscape. As I wrote before in my post Why The Walking Dead’s Glenn is the best Asian male character on TV today — and must not die!:

Steven Yeun, playing Glenn, is doing more to smash stereotypes about Asian men than any other actor on TV today….

Steven Yeun as Glenn on “The Walking Dead” – the most-watched drama series ever broadcast on American cable – proves that when you let Asian men step outside of the stereotypes to play great characters who are fascinating, nuanced and real to life, the public will watch.

That’s why we need Steven Yeun out there, playing Glenn to the very end of “The Walking Dead.” That’s why Glenn cannot die! You’re not just killing the heart and soul of the show; you’re killing, as YOMYOMF calls him, the “Most Interesting Asian Male Character on American Television.”

The question remains, now that Steven Yeun’s character has apparently been killed off (I say “apparently” because there’s still speculation that maybe, just maybe, Glenn’s not really dead), how should we feel about this?

Honestly, I’ve been in shock over this. Total shock.

It’s not just a matter of one less Asian actor on television. Glenn was one of the most outstanding characters I’ve ever known an Asian man to play on American television – which means his death creates a loss. Granted, we are seeing more groundbreaking Asian male characters on the screen than before. Still, I don’t of another character out there played by an Asian man with the depth, complexity and nuance of Glenn, not to mention the popularity. He was so beloved on The Walking Dead (affectionately called “Saint Glenn” by some), the true heart and soul of the program.

(I have to wonder, how many people will stop watching The Walking Dead because Glenn is gone?)

In the end, if we’ll never see Glenn again on The Walking Dead, then I have two hopes for American television. One, that we’ll see more of Steven Yeun in yet another unstereotypical, complex and fascinating role on the screen. And two, that Hollywood will do more diverse casting to give us many more characters like Glenn on television.

If you’re a fan of Steven Yeun as Glenn on The Walking Dead, how do you feel about this development in the show?

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21 thoughts on “Did The Walking Dead’s Glenn Really Die? On the Loss of a Great Asian Male TV Character

  • November 2, 2015 at 7:32 am
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    I have watched the Walking Dead since the first episode. We watched the Glenn character change from a sidekick to a lead character who is clearly one of the main story drivers here in season 6. He overcame racism (even in the apocalypse?!?) to marry the woman he loved and he became the voice of reason and morality against the failing humanity. While I hope the character is not actually dead, Steven Yuen’s work in this role is unforgetable even if it is at an end.

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  • November 2, 2015 at 9:32 am
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    I have been and am watching Walking Dead from Season 1 and love it. It was interesting to watch Glenn’s character evolve and I have to admit that his is one of the rare characters which is not a stereotypical Asian (cue compared to agent May in Agents of Shield etc).

    P.S: I do not think he died. What they tore open was the guy above him and zombies do not touch you when you are covered in dead body goo 🙂

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  • November 2, 2015 at 9:38 am
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    I was close to tears after last week’s episode, and could not help from blurting out, in anguish, “Why the AMWF couple!?” Relatives who were watching with us didn’t understand, as is the usual reaction. Needless to say, ZJ is convinced Glen may not be dead, but as Susan said, even if he is, Steven Yuen has already immensely done wonders for Asian men on TV. Here’s to hoping more AM will be featured as lead characters!

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  • November 2, 2015 at 12:17 pm
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    Gleen must have dead many times before. and He finally did….

    well A shocking title huh, please don’t hate on me, Saint Gleen is just finished his mission in the show, no matter he is killed or not, He might be showing up in rest of epsoides in different forms, like the ghost, or another walker with fragmentary body… I see the show beyound the angles of just seeing him as an Asian actor, In the show, He is a normal humanbeing who is boned with Rick, Darrl, and rest of group members . but in previous shows he’s role is clear and strong, As a runner he is knowing the direction and running fast, also giving enough support to Rick’s team, so He had the trust from Rick since begining. as He and other Rick’s member belived that there is hope of finding the place where is no walkers, which is Washington before Alexandera then there was the power inside of every one in Rick’s group, however Alexandera changed them, and everyone’s role also will have to change, so I guessed the Director want to express, there is no superstars in the show, and everyone will get hurt or killed somehow. so there is no much Dramatical efforts can be made, unless one or few of those popular roles die.

    Saint Gleen’s death created the starting of whole group’s fates from now on, which they are no longer right or unbeatable anymore. As comic books wrote, Rick is gonna lose his one hand, his son is going to lose one eye …….

    Right now I more am curious about How the show is going to end?

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  • November 2, 2015 at 3:04 pm
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    Not a watcher of the show, but wow, I’m sorry that it happened 🙁 It also was pretty coolt that the love interest was a brunnette and possibly a Jewish girl as well 🙂 Guess now I don’t have much of a reason to start watching the TV or come back to American TV.

    Honestly speaking, if everything goes okay, I’m planning for my child to watch Korean dramas in hopes of boosting his/her self esteem, and in helping him/her see themselves as a unique individual worthy of love and attention.

    I don’t think it should really surprise me. Anyone recall Heroes and how Matsu Oka’s love interest passed away BEFORE kissing or anything like that? It does sound as if they pulled a very dirty trick, causing the character to die just as new season was beginning rather than at the end of the season. If I watched or enjoyed the show, I’d probably be disgusted, angray and would stop watching it. But that’s just me.

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    • November 2, 2015 at 3:09 pm
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      Forgot to mention that a year ago, a Pinoy guy and I went out on a date to watch a Fast and the Furious Movie, yes,the one before Paul Walker passes. While we’re on a date, I’m delightfully treated to the female character passing away and telling the male character to continue on living, while the two main characters (Diesel and his love interest) survive and I see them hugging on the screen. All I can say is ugh! and feel disgust that an AMWF get interrupted this way.

      Reply
  • November 3, 2015 at 12:23 am
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    I’m in complete denial that he’s dead. Gleggie is the main reason I started to watch “The Walking Dead”. They’re the only positive AMWF couple on American TV.
    I HATE zombies and getting over my fear…which I still have of zombies…but I watch TWD for only Glenn and Maggie. Well, mostly for them. I have a few other favorite characters now.

    Just hoping that there will be more amwf couples in media in the future. (hoping to write more of these couples in novels.)

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  • November 3, 2015 at 7:48 am
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    The only reason I still watch , and continue to watch the walking dead is because I can see myself in the media for once. If Glenn is dead , I’m moving on. That being said ; I would recommend a new show that premieres in a month starring Daniel Wu , also on AMC (where Walking Dead airs) .

    http://www.amc.com/shows/into-the-badlands

    “Into The Badlands”

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  • November 3, 2015 at 11:25 pm
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    Hard to say whether he is dead or not. As I have read/ still read the comic I would say he is not dead as he died much later in the storyline. However the tv show is not so good in following the original story as Andrea (who died in season 3 or so) is still alive and kicking in the comic and one of the leaders or the city…

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  • November 4, 2015 at 1:08 am
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    The goal of Hollywood is to give few Asian Americans any jobs so that they can import more white Brits and deprive even white Americans of acting roles…only thing is they pay the white Brits a lot more.

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  • November 4, 2015 at 2:44 am
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    I’m bummed, of course, but it’s not a surprise. In the original work, Glenn dies. Pretty much EVERYONE dies, and the deaths are all gruesome. It is a horror show, gruesome is their trademark. The world of the Walking Dead is brutal, and the lives are short. He had a good run.

    As far as Hollywood being deliberately racist, well, I’ve worked in the Entertainment Industry and I wouldn’t say it’s deliberate. They don’t sit around in meetings and say, “Hey, don’t hire any Asians! Keep all the good parts for the white people!” Hollywood loves formulas — the more tried and true, the better. Notice all the books and movies that get remade. Production companies are more likely to get investors if they can point to a similar product and show how that particular show made money.

    Of course, this stifles innovation and means that the big three networks and major studios are always lagging behind the indie scene.

    What speaks in Hollywood is MONEY. Box Office. How bankable a star is, especially in the United States, although that is changing. I expect that once Hollywood figures out a formula that nets them more Asian dollars, they will stick with it. Right now there are TWO Asian sitcoms on network TV, as well as one African-American sitcom. All have been renewed.

    As for the Brits, well, they work hard and right now they are just more of them that are talented, dedicated, and easy to work with. American actors tend to get caught up/ distracted by celebrity. I think they are more limited, perhaps because many of the Brits got more training. Take Vince Vaughn. He can play one type of character. Same with Seth Rogen. Bradley Cooper is one of the few with a range, and he gets plenty of work.

    It is sad that Tom Hiddleston is a better Hank Williams than an actual American, but it’s not a giant conspiracy. Hiddleston would probably have been a better Martian than Mark Damon, though Damon was adequate. (I found the rest of the cast far more entertaining, actually.)

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    • November 7, 2015 at 7:18 pm
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      @Autumn working in the media industry I have to agree. Whether it’s news or entertainment the industries will churn out what gets clicks or views. The popularity of Glenn’s character will hopefully see more characters like him.

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  • November 4, 2015 at 9:30 am
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    My gut feeling is leaning towards Glenn not being dead–yet. Maybe the show-runners are just messing with us, but who knows. I really loved the interaction between Glenn and Nicholas in the last few episodes. Glenn has really proven to be a compassionate and “good” guy despite all the trouble and danger Nicholas has given him. Meanwhile, Rick has been becoming a little more ruthless along the way–but not Glenn (at least not yet). If they truly did kill off Glenn, I’ll still be watching the show–for Daryl. 🙂

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  • November 5, 2015 at 6:37 pm
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    I just finished watching the episode – even though I started watching TWD just because I like end of the world stories I definitely kept watching it for Maggie and Glenn. My only question now is: is it worth continuing to watch it now in the hope that the internet conspiracies are right and he is not, in fact, dead? The Jon Snow of TWD…

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  • November 6, 2015 at 3:35 pm
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    Glenn was awesome! But I can see how they might want to bring in some surprise and change – even though George R. R. Martin still beats them at killing off characters unexpectedly. They may also try to consolidate story lines a bit – after Glenn married he didn’t really develop much as a character and was kept a bit on the back-burner.

    Still, I think they should bring in a few more Asian actors, or even actors from other ethnic backgrounds. Right now it looks a bit like they want to please the “omg no black actors!” crowd, even though none of those characters stay around for long.

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  • November 6, 2015 at 5:03 pm
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    @Cat (talkingofchinese) I think that most fans from the walking Dead , including myself should keep watching this fanale until it ends, the reason is that the different sides of humanities are being percisely refected by different roles in this show, like Mogran, Rick, Darry, Carol, Michonne……..
    @To all
    I don’t understand why some people just beacuse of digging the AMWF relationship between Maggie AND Gleen, and I don’t think they are playing that important part in the shows anyway, the beauty of the walking Dead is about even at the most desperate and devastating moment of your life, there are still the ture kindness of humanity to warm your heart. thats the beauty part of the entire of the shows, and Thank God, I am falling for the show since season 1, and I saw many good and moral people are gone besides just Gleen. so if you couldn’t get the points of the show, please don’t bother and stop making random and irrelevant comments.

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    • November 7, 2015 at 7:12 pm
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      I think it’s possible to appreciate the show from more than one perspective, of course the AMWF relationship isn’t the only reason to watch the show.

      As producer David Alpert said: “whether or not Glenn is alive or dead or something else — the Glenn that we knew, the one that believed in the better side of humanity, I think is dead.”

      That loss is the saddest part to me but I also think it is reasonable for people to be sad to see (arguably) the most popular AMWF pairing come to an end.

      Reply
  • Pingback:Three Reasons to Watch AMC’s “Into the Badlands” | Marissa Kluger

  • November 24, 2015 at 2:01 pm
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    Glenn is still alive !

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  • November 24, 2015 at 2:16 pm
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    Yay for that 🙂 Now am hoping, if it might be possible, that there might be a baby on the way in the future. I just realized that I’m not a TV person at all…

    Reply

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