by IronE Singleton, a.k.a "T-Dog"
Well, Season 3 of The Walking Dead is premiering in just a few weeks, and inexplicably, my character T-Dog is still alive. Believe me when I say I am just as surprised as you. I mean, let's be honest here, a guy named "T-Dog" is probably not meant for narrative greatness, especially not in a show about the zombie apocalypse. I play a one-dimensional character with no real connection to anyone in the cast, nor do I have any particularly interesting quirks or traits. And yet, as much of an afterthought as T-Dog is, you'd really think the writers would have at least found some imaginative way to kill off me by now. But miraculously, I am still a member of the living on the show. At this point, I can't help but imagine how fucking hilarious it would be if T-Dog somehow made it through to the end of the series.
Let's take a minute and look at some T-Dog highlights from Season 2 of the show, shall we? The first episode, all I managed to do was cut myself real bad. This led to my character getting an infection in his arm, then getting sick. Now right here was probably the longest piece of dialogue my character has had the entire series, where I gave a fever-induced incoherent rant about feeling 'disposable' - showing that my character is totally aware of how useless he is in the big picture. Then T-Dog got some gangsta medical attention (that's a joke, though "none of that gangsta shit," was a choice quote of mine in one episode), and for the rest of the season, I pretty much sat in the background, shaking my head or passively involving myself in all the stupid non-zombie problems the entire remaining cast got to experience. Every week I expected to be handed a script that featured T-Dog dying at the hands of a surprise zombie attack. But wouldn't you know it, I just kind of kept on living. That is of course, if you count multiple episodes where I had zero lines, or interactions with the rest of the cast and would often get less screen time than certain zombies as "living."
Now, before I go on explaining my case for my character's continued survival, I recognize the obvious benefits to my character staying alive. Every episode T-Dog appears in the background looking at his gun while Rick and Lori argue about the survival of the group is money in the bank for me, right? But understand that I'm no longer invested in this project for the paycheck. Right now, it is completely about the mind-blowingly ludicrous idea that somehow, the least-developed, least interesting character on AMC's blockbuster show could wind up surviving certain doom despite all odds and common sense on the part of the writers.
Maybe it's some sort of industry affirmative action that's kept me alive this long. Killing off the only black guy on the show is probably too obvious, and could be interpreted as racist I guess, maybe? So they keep me around because it's just easier that way. Great, so let's really fucking heighten this then. People gotta die sometime -start by killing the little kid, Carl. That'll really piss audiences off. 'He was the heart of the show!' they'll yell. Then kill the wife, Lori too. Have her get in the way of a zombie horde right when it seems like I'm finally about to bite the big one. My God will the internet blow up over that - can you imagine the shock of her dying over me? Then maybe at some point down the line the main character Rick dies too (depressed over his dead wife and kid, no doubt), and then every else one until it's just me punching zombies alone in some huge warehouse shouting: "You ain't never gettin' T-Dog!!" Come on, how amazing would that be? It would be like sort of meta-commentary on my character's purposeless existence, like every member of the cast of Dexter besides Dexter. Also, it'd would just be really fucking hysterical.
Oh wait, I just thought of something brilliant. Obviously my bland, purposeless character has been given zero backstory or flashbacks to date, but what if that changed all of a sudden? What if in the middle of everything, T-Dog gets an origin story? Maybe we'll finally get to know his real name! Or the day he chose to bequeath the name "T-Dog" onto himself. What about an episode where T-Dog is despondent, and feels like leaving the group, and the others actually have to convince him to stay by saying why he's a valuable member of the group, or why they like him?!. Haha, oh man, the writers would totally never be able to pull that off! God, I'm having way too much fun with this. They're going to kill me off pretty soon anyway. Or will they?
It's funny, in the first couple of episodes I appeared in, I was instinctively letting the zombies get close to me during each take. I guess I was just assuming that my character - who no audience member is invested in or rooting for - was rightfully going to get torn apart at any minute. But fuck, now that I've made it this far, I feel like I'm calling the writer's bluff. I wanna see this thing through until the end. Maybe if T-Dog is ever supposed to get bitten, I'll storm into the writer's room and give them all my best angry black guy face to try and convince them that T-Dog's obviously he's got some kind of immunity to the zombie disease. These people don't have much of an endgame in mind, and the pressure's on for the series to continue for a while, so I'm willing to bet I can sell them on anything at this point.
Wow. You guys - I just got the script for the next episode we're shooting. Apparently I say: "count me out" on page 34, and then I basically disappear for the rest of the episode. And yes, I'm still alive! Hahahaha! I love it.
Oh man, I seriously can't stop laughing right now.