POLL: At What Point Would You No Longer Be Able to Be the Moral Compass on The Walking Dead?

Rick, Judith, Tyrese, Dale, Andrea, the Governor - The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead just premiered its sixth season on October 11 with an amazing episode! Seriously, if you have not seen it yet – well, what are you waiting for? Watching it and The Talking Dead after it, along with reading comments started me thinking about what it would be like to be the moral compass in a world slowly disintegrating.

There has been a lot written about the various characters that have been the moral compasses for this program. Sadly, there does seem to be a tendency for these characters to be killed. I guess they all need red shirts, so we could know what was coming.

But my purpose here is not to look at the grim statistics, but rather to explore what it takes to be the moral compass in a world such as is portrayed on The Walking Dead. With society crumbling around you, and everyone seemingly out for themselves, just how much inner strength does it take to be the person who gives a darn and has the courage to speak up with a possibly unpopular point of view? At what point do you crumble and lose your personal principles?

In the Beginning…

Dale, Andrea - The Walking Dead

When civilization is functioning normally, it is easy to retain your ethics and identify right and wrong. When people do not have to struggle to provide the daily necessities for survival, they can easily be concerned about their neighbors and society at large.

The show’s first moral compass, Dale, had it relatively easy. He was only around in the early stages of the apocalypse, before being bitten by a walker. He had the time to delve into interpersonal relationships and work to repair them.

The Stability of Safety

Rick - The Walking Dead

As time progressed, Rick’s group found Hershel’s farm. At the farm, there was medical care, food and water, as well as relative safety from Walkers. When the farm was overrun by Walkers, Rick and company managed to find the prison, where they also found food, water and secure living spaces.

In many ways, the show’s second moral compass, Herschel, also had it relatively easy. While they were on his farm, there were not many Walkers. He even tried to keep his wife and other Walkers alive in the hopes a cure could be found. He devised a system to feed the walkers held in the barn, showing his humanity.

When they had to abandon the farm and ended up at the prison, Herschel once again had a stable home and even took the time to organize the survivors, most prominently Rick and Carl, into creating a working farm growing crops and raising livestock. He also managed to bring delusional, grief stricken Rick back from the brink, which was no small task.

The Chaos of Battle

Andrea, The Governor - The Walking Dead

I am fortunate in that I have never experienced the horrors of war. From the books I have read and the documentaries I have viewed, however, I can certainly imagine what it is like. But, I fully acknowledge that the reality is certainly much, much worse.

While it is possible to imagine the reason why terrible events occur during wartime, does this mean it is impossible to maintain your moral compass? On The Walking Dead, the Governor and his followers created a real threat to Rick and his group via a full frontal attack. While Andrea tried desperately to broker a peace between Rick and the Governor, by that point the Governor was too far gone. All he wanted was vengeance and blood.

The Strain of Being on the Run

Tyrese and Judith - The Walking Dead

After the relative safety of the prison, Rick’s group was scattered in the aftermath of the final battle with the Governor and his forces. During this period, everyone was under intense strain from several factors. They did not know who in their group had survived. They did not know where their loved ones were. And, worst of all, they had no idea if they would ever see their friends and families again.

Add to that the fact they had no safe place to hide or sleep, no water or food source, and clearly the uncertainty of their existence weighed heavily on them! Maintaining a moral core is very difficult if not impossible under these circumstances.

The Horror of Captivity

Carol and Mary - The Walking Dead

After being on the outside for so long, Terminus must have seemed like heaven, until the reality of the fact it was actually hell set in. The promise of safety becomes more urgent the longer you are forced to fight for survival, so Rick and his group, in their various sub groups, had lost some of their hardened edges; eroded by the ravages of their existence at that point. This made them that much easier to capture, and that much more volatile once they escaped.

Was it right for Carol to execute Mary? Were Mary and her group only doing what they had to do to survive in the face of a brutal, hostile world? Is that really losing your moral compass?

The Frustration of Dealing with People that Do Not Understand the Dangers

Rick - The Walking Dead

It is certainly frustrating to be with people that are clueless. People who do not want to hear about the dangers they face or simply can’t face them so just ignore their existence are dangerous to the survival of the entire group. How far would you go to protect your loved ones?

Rick is certainly right that everyone needs to learn to fight to protect Alexandria, but his instability and hostility make it difficult for more reasonable people to convince the frightened masses of his views. It mutes the voices of the more moderate members of the group when they speak.


symbol for prohibited

Perhaps you feel you would never lose your morality, no matter what happens. If so, then choose this option in the voting below.


How long would I be able to hold out? I like to think of myself as a principled person, able to hold the high moral ground. And, I am fortunate enough to not have safety or survival needs that are not being met, so I speak from a position of relative comfort. That said, there have been some long term power outages that left me hot, cold, or just uncomfortable, and I think I would probably crack at the strain of being on the run.

What about you? Please vote below and then tell me about your choice in the comments section! I look forward to hearing your thoughts.