8 Times Walking Dead Characters Saved The Day In Unexpected Ways

The Walking Dead franchise includes instances where characters end up helping others or the plot’s progression in unexpected or unintentional ways.

Side by side custom image of Alicia from Fear and Nicholas from The Walking Dead


  • Unexpected character actions have been instrumental in helping the survivors in The Walking Dead, like Virgil assisting Connie despite his antagonistic choices previously.
  • Small gestures, like Shane barricading a room, had a big impact on character safety and plot progression.
  • Some characters unintentionally or unexpectedly ended up being helpful or self-sacrificial, like Nicholas killing himself, saving Glenn.

Throughout the seasons and spinoffs of The Walking Dead, survival has sometimes meant saving the day in unexpected ways. From the very beginning of the franchise, small or big gestures have helped bring positive change for the zombie apocalypse survivors. This extended to help from unlikely characters, like Virgil assisting Connie after the season 10 cave-in in the main show, even though he had entrapped Michonne previously. With seven shows so fat, it’s unsurprising that the franchise has faced as many unique helpful acts as it has disastrous ones.

Some actions were large and sacrificial, like Rick Grimes’ exit in season 9 where he destroyed the community-connecting bridge to prevent walkers from overrunning. Smaller gestures sometimes had a big impact on characters’ safety and plot progression. For instance, Shane Walsh in the pilot of the flagship show barricaded Rick’s hospital room, preventing military operatives and walkers from getting in. What’s more is that some characters’ circumstances weren’t necessarily intentional, but resulted in them being largely helpful or self-sacrificial.

The three main upcoming Walking Dead spinoff characters: Rick & Michonne, Daryl Dixon, and Negan & Maggie.
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8 Alicia Showing Charlie “A Beach” Helped Save John Dorie And Victor Strand

Fear The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 15, “I Lose People…”

Fear the Walking Dead

After a major storm, John Dorie and Victor Strand were marooned by a flooded area. Despite Alicia and Charlie’s tension in previous episodes following Charlie killing Nick, Alicia insisted on showing Charlie a beach since she’d never seen one. Given that most of Morgan’s group were split up at this point in Fear The Walking DeadAlicia and Charlie stumbling across two other members by chance played a part in reuniting the group, especially since they were stronger when together. Moreover, it marked a core turning point for Alicia’s character as she chose kindness toward Charlie. This second chance influenced Charlie’s season 8 sacrifice in the name of Alicia’s legacy.

Alycia Debnam Carey as Alicia and Alexa Nisenson as Charlie in Fear The Walking Dead
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7 Jesus Stealing From Rick And Daryl Expanded Alexandria’s Allies

The Walking Dead Season 6, Episode 10, “The Next World”

Jesus with Rick, Maggie, Glenn and Daryl on The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead

Jesus’ introduction in The Walking Dead season 6 was memorable. He’s first seen when he bumped into Rick and Daryl. To sneakily steal their truck of supplies, Jesus smooth-talked and pick-pocketed the truck’s keys to make a quick escape with the loot. He also cleverly planted firecrackers and insinuated walkers were nearby to get the formidable duo off-guard long enough to get away. While this painted him as more of a nuisance to Alexandria than an ally, Jesus’ connection to Hilltop was key.

By surrendering after an altercation with Rick and Daryl, Jesus was taken to Alexandria. Here, he escaped confinement easily and took stock of the provisions and population before suggesting a trade with Hilltop. Although both Alexandria and Hilltop faced hardship because of the Saviors, Jesus’ unconventional introduction to the group helped increase Alexandria’s allies, defenses, resources, and reach, which remained useful until the end of the series.

6 Bob Helped Stop The Terminus Group By Getting Bitten

The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 2, “Strangers”

Bob reveals he's tainted meat on The Walking Dead

Bob’s walker bite was one of the more memorable examples of a chain-reaction. He found himself tied up with his leg chopped off. Gareth, Terminus’ leader, revealed he and his people were eating Bob’s leg. This led to Bob’s iconic “tainted meat!’ refrain. While this didn’t directly defeat them as the meat had no effect, it led to the Terminus group returning Bob. When Bob let Rick’s group know what happened, Rick’s mission to kill Gareth and his group was re-energized. Bob’s unfortunate walker bite unexpectedly re-lit the drive for Rick and his group to take forceful action to prevent further harm at the hands of the cannibalistic antagonist group.

5 Nicholas Dying Saved Glenn

The Walking Dead Season 6, Episode 3, “Thank you”

Nicholas and Glenn avoiding zombies on The Walking Dead.

Nicholas’ character arc wasn’t long, but it encompassed volatility and cowardice. During a supply run, he abandoned Glenn, Aiden, and others out of fear of approaching walkers, which ultimately led to walkers devouring Aiden. To make matters worse, Nicholas blamed what happened on Glenn. On another occasion, Glenn and Nicholas got into a fight, both injuring each other, and Nicholas left him for dead. Glenn survived and agreed to spare Nicholas, acting as a guide of sorts to help him be a more useful asset to Alexandria.

While helping Glenn divert a horde further away from Alexandria, Nicholas showed greater compassion as he put down a zombified Will, a former supply run buddy. Oddly, Nicholas’ paralyzing fear ultimately saved Glenn since he took his own life when both he and Glenn were crowded in an alley with walkers. His dead body became a shield for Glenn to avoid getting bitten and hide under a dumpster until he could escape the herd. This also set up one of the most controversial Walking Dead death fake-outs, but it gave Nicholas a self-sacrificing redemptive moment, even if saving Glenn from the walker herd wasn’t his intention.

Steven Yeun as Glenn in Walking Dead and Alycia Debnam Carey in Fear The Walking Dead
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4 Sasha Was A Distraction As A Walker

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 16, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life”

Sasha Williams as a walker in the coffin growling at Negan in The Walking Dead

After Abraham’s brutal death in The Walking Dead season 7 premiere, Sasha’s grief led her to maintain a focused goal of killing Negan to exact justice. Sasha made it into the Sanctuary alone, where she was captured and faced with Negan, who gave her a choice between dying or joining him. To avoid being used as a bargaining chip, Sasha took her own life with a poison capsule provided by Eugene. While she didn’t get to kill Negan, Sasha’s surprise attack as a walker was enough to throw Negan off guard and caused enough commotion to allow Rick and the others to attack.

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3 Jim Brauer’s Walker Bite Saved Morgan’s Group

Fear The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 15, “I Lose People…”

Jim Brauer on a rooftop in Fear The Walking Dead

Although Jim’s sole motivation was singularly related to brewing his beer, his final acts in the show were surprisingly helpful to the group. After being bitten while fighting off a walker in Fear The Walking Dead season 4, Jim blamed Morgan and was defiant. However, when Morgan and the others were surrounded by a large group of walkers, preventing them from getting to the SWAT van and leaving the hospital, Jim’s actions were essential to saving Morgan and his group.

By jumping off the hospital’s roof, he landed on a car and set off its alarm, directing the walkers his way. Without having a big enough distraction to steer the walkers away from them, Morgan’s group wouldn’t have been able to escape as they were out of ammunition and there were too many walkers to take down with melee combat. Jim’s bite made it somewhat easier to create the distraction needed because his imminent death made him willing to take the leap.

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2 Charlie Getting Captured By Troy Helped Madison’s Group

Fear The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 8, “Iron Tiger”

Charlie Iron TigerFear the Walking Dead

Much like Sasha’s sacrifice involved infiltrating from the inside, Charlie’s Fear The Walking Dead season 8 plan did too. Feeling guilty about Nick Clark’s death and understanding Madison’s anger about it, Charlie agreed to assassinate Troy. However, her plan involved getting captured by Troy so the tanker she was traveling in was near enough to the hotel Troy’s group was inhabiting. The tanker exploded, drawing walkers to the hotel and destroying part of it. This was the first way in which Charlie helped Madison’s group, as it damaged Troy’s base and threw him off guard.

By taking her own life, Charlie also ensured Troy wouldn’t find PADRE’s location, thus preserving Alicia’s mission to establish a safe haven. Moreover, Charlie eliminating Troy’s only leverage – herself – ensured that Madison and the others could maintain PADRE’s sanctity and avoided endangering the inhabitants, since Troy wasn’t able to take over without its location. Charlie signified how rogue plans in The Walking Dead universe could have resourceful outcomes, even if the sacrifice was painful for the remaining characters.

Dakota and Martha from Fear The Walking Dead against a red background
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1 Negan Went Undercover To Take Down The Whisperers

The Walking Dead Season 10

After Carol freed Negan from his cell in Alexandria with the instruction to kill Alpha, Negan went deep undercover. He blended in with Alpha and her Whisperers. Of course, most of Alexandria and its allies didn’t know this was what Negan was doing, which is arguably why it worked so well. Additionally, Negan got closer to Alpha, which led to her trusting him. His play for Alpha’s trust was part of one of Negan’s most heroic Walking Dead storylines, even if it required him to resort to Savior-era methods.

By helping with the Whisperer attack on Hilltop, Negan was able to easily convince Alpha to follow him to a cabin by lying to her about Lydia being there. This gave him the opening he needed to kill Alpha and deliver her severed head to Carol. Although this didn’t instantly end the Whisperer War, overthrowing Alpha in this way gave him influence over the Whisperers before overtly fighting on Alexandria and its allies’ side. Evidently, The Walking Dead‘s moments of unexpected methods to help save the day or progress the narrative often tended to ultimately progress character arcs too.

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