At the End of it All

We’re in the process of catching up on The Walking Dead’s sister show: Fear the Walking Dead. I’m not going to discuss the merits of the spin off. Likely many people checked it out in the first season and found certain aspects of it not to their liking. Personally I feel like the second part of Season 2 has become to really hit it’s stride.

But that’s not what I want to write about today.

No, I want to focus on one of the core ideas Fear deals with that the main show certainly hits on from time to time, but given the “newness” of the zombie apocalypse, there are still things the main characters are trying to figure out. In an episode of Fear, the main group has the decision on whether they should help two people, one clearly injured. They could bring them both aboard and worst case make things a little more comfortable for the dying man.

Some try to maintain their old humanity by helping them, others on the ship are more concerned about their family’s safety. Ultimately the decision is made for them. Yet there is still the quandary:

If you were trying to survive in an apocalyptic situation, do you help strangers?


Not to flat out steal from my Guildmate who writes the head scratching style of questioning books, J Edward Neill, but it’s a piece of the zombie outbreak question that is sometimes glossed over. From a horror movie sort of view, the answer becomes obvious: DON’T. Clearly everyone is out to get you and letting them have some kind of real and true access to you will only allow them to get more opportunities to kill you.

In the tv show/movies it is shown as a life or death equation. What isn’t always explicitly said, but clearly implied is that this decision affects you nearly as much as the person you want to help/leave behind. You may have to live with the consequences of inviting someone along with you if they end up doing bad things.

Court and I talked about it for a while as to what we would choose and came to a different question: What would members of my family do (I have not talked it out with them, this is just a straight out guess)?

My Dad – He’s too logical. Too protective of his family. In fact, I think he’d have to really dig in his heels with other members of my family in order ensure that no random element would be let into our group.

My Mom – She’d understand all the logic my dad would throw around. Heck, her head would probably agree with his decision, but I can’t foresee a situation where she wouldn’t at least try and help another person.

My Sister (Courtney) – Perhaps even more than my mom, my sister would want to help as many people as she could… at first. The one thing that would change that is if things went sideways and one of her family was put in danger. Assuming that like a tv show things could still work out, I could see such an incident ensuring no one else would get any assistance.

My Brother in law (Bill) – He has a big heart. He loves helping people in the real world. However… I think all that gets thrown out the window in favor of the group/family. No messing around, no-nonsense. Let’s get to wherever it is we’re going and that be that.


My Brother (Mark) – Probably the one I’m most unsure on. I lean towards thinking he’d move on past the strangers for the sake of his group, but a small piece of me can’t help but think that perhaps he’d try to give them some assistance… possibly food/water.

My Sister in law (Meagan) – On the other hand, she’s going to want to help other people. Maybe even to the point that the very thought of NOT helping would cause her distress. She might be the one who leaving someone behind would weigh on the most.

My Mother in Law – Someone who has effectively adopted her next door neighbors  would be hard-pressed to turn away others, I think. Talking it out with my wife, she thought that her mom would then feel guilt about all the other ones out there that she couldn’t get to.

My Father in Law – Before he passed away, I think I would have put him in the move on column, but at his wake I got to meet many of the people in the AA program who he helped try to get their lives back on the right track. Strangers who he felt compelled to help because he was in the same situation. In this case fiction has to mirror reality.

My Step Father in Law – A former cop and a former locksmith, he’s definitely someone I want on “my team” when the end comes. As we search the wasteland for signs of food and water, those locked places would open their treasures up to us. He’s one that I lean towards helping strangers, but it would have to be the right place and the right time as his background in law enforcement could very well help him spot those trying to do us ill.

My Brother in law (Nathan) – A lot like my dad, I think Nathan wouldn’t entertain the possibility of something endangering his loved ones. And these Strangers, they are a variable in the equation that might not sit quite right.

My Sister in law (Mandy) – I don’t think she’d invite the Strangers to come along, but instead falls into the category of wanting to help where she could through extra food/clothing/etc. But when we break camp, you need to go in a different direction.

My wife (Courtney) – I think we’re to the point where she’s watched too much Walking Dead to totally trust the random strangers. If something seems too good to be true type thing.


It would weigh on her, though.

And me? I think I’d have to think of my group/family at first, but after sleepless nights trying to weigh whether that was even the right decision, we’d eventually come upon someone(s) where the guilt would force me to let them in.

I can only hope that these are good people I’m letting in.


John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

The Walking Dead returned a couple of weeks ago.

But I’ll get to that in a second. And actually this is not specifically about the Walking Dead, it is just one of the latest “things” to get this treatment. I’m probably going to be all over the place with this post. Apologies in advance.

I want to talk about this thing that we all do. Well, I’m not 100% on that stat, but let’s say a fair number of internet people do and it drives me nuts.

The people who want to say one of the following:

“This show is not as good as it used to be.”

“This show isn’t as good as everyone says it is (effectively saying you are all sheep who are watching it).”

I know it is human nature to compare something to something else. We do it because it helps us identify things. Comparing helps us understand what it is we are watching. We think – this is kinda like X thing, and I really liked X thing, so I’m probably going to like this Y thing.

I do it too. There are certain shows, movies, books, songs, etc. that I am much more likely to enjoy than someone else. Time travel, zombies, anything dealing with alternate worlds, and Groundhog Day style movies/TV shows are all in that wheelhouse for me. If you have some aspect of those things I’m going to probably check you out.


Back in college I didn’t necessarily go to see every movie that came out. I’m not saying this as a statement of pride or anything else. It just was a fact. Even without going every week I saw a good number of movies. But by trying to narrow down a little bit, be a little bit discriminate meant that I missed a lot of bad movies. And I know this to be the case because if you’ve ever been up at 2 in the morning you see plenty of the “Bad” movies on HBO or TBS or TNT or… The flip side of that was, of course, I also missed out on a lot of good movies. That was the trade-off I was willing to make because I KNEW if something was really good a friend would let me know. And if something was only “OK”, well maybe I didn’t need to see that one.


Choosing that path meant that I saw movies that, most of the time, I didn’t have much bad things to say. Oh, maybe I wasn’t floored by the latest Tom Cruise movie, but it wasn’t necessarily a terrible movie by any stretch of the imagination. As time went on, those bad movies got forgotten or just relegated to the status of “Eh, it was ok I guess”.

Not the strongest endorsement, and I’m sure I had friends who thought that there were no movies I hated, but they didn’t realize I’d already done some level of weeding before I ever entered the theater. I mean, unless you are watching Mystery Science Theater 3000, there is little reason to watch a bad movie (note, however, I do not say there are no reasons – get enough people together and the worst movies can be the best experiences).


But what I don’t understand is this need to tear down things that other people like. That other people enjoy. Those people who are just waiting in the weeds… they want to tell you why something sucks or that Season 1 was soooo much better, the first movie was better, book 3 was the best and everything after those things were just absolute garbage.

Note, this isn’t about discussions where something isn’t exactly to another’s tastes. I love to talk about and dissect various movies, books, tv shows, etc. A back and forth about how maybe one thing was a little bit better than something else. A talk in which you are thinking about the things you liked and the things that you didn’t like.

As a writer I love trying to figure why something was done a certain way. As a fan of the form(s) I love to think about what might have worked better from that angle as well. Sometimes those things line up and sometimes they don’t.

I’m not stupid, I know that not everyone likes everything they see.

Why do we need to tear something down? Why do we have to nitpick things?

I notice this more due to the Internet forums. And yes, I understand I should just avoid bothering with them, but I’m clearly a glutton for punishment. And I’m always floored by venom being thrown at certain things because other people like them.

When do you just get to enjoy it?


Everything we consume has some kind of flaw. Nothing is 100% perfect. But why nitpick every last detail?

It seems like the only time this doesn’t apply is with shows that most people come in late on. Something like Breaking Bad. These things are done or almost done and we’ve consumed them in a way that maybe doesn’t allow for complete introspection. To put it another way, when you are binge watching something, you are more worried about getting to the next episode more than wondering why Walter White reacted in the way he did.

By watching a character arc in a matter of hours instead of weeks or years, everything has more weight and less weight at the same time. It means that maybe those tweaks and changes seem a bit more flawed than they need to be… because that true time to watch over the course of years is no longer needed.


Case in point: LOST. I am unapologetic about my love for this show. Is it perfect? No, of course not, but I’m willing to live with a few warts for one of the better shows on the tv screen (at least as far as I’m concerned).


So many of the genre shows sometimes take the brunt of it. I remember that when Lost was heading towards the end of Season 1. Mysteries were being laid out, shit was getting real, and I remember reading a blog where the guy said that he’s not watching Lost because he feels like it is going to do to him what X-Files did to him (not solve the mysteries they laid out). Hey, that’s fine don’t watch, but then when don’t sit there and tell everyone else why they are dumb for watching and enjoying.

Because you know you’ve seen it. That sadistic glee where someone says they aren’t going to bother with something because of some reason. But then spends the next X number of years bashing that TV show because it can’t be any good (if it was, they would like it).

But this is Season 1 we’re talking about and you’ve condemned it, without having watched, because you don’t trust the writers to answer all the questions they are asking (it is an entirely different blog post that would be needed to answer what did or didn’t get answered).

I guess what bothers me is it feels so much like the crap that we are supposed to be over. We’d rather complain about something versus just turning the channel. We sit around and hope to be right about something being bad. What the hell kind of sense does that make? Does the ability to tell someone “I told you so” outweigh everything else in your life? Is that the only bit of joy left to you is to take away someone else’s joy so that they can join you in the pit of despair?


I’m not sure what part of the human condition this belongs to, but it has always bugged me. I don’t understand people who watch a TV show, read a comic series, and to a lesser extent watch movies or read novels who seem to take pleasure when something popular gets taken down a peg.

And don’t get me wrong, this is not necessarily a critique of when a show has jumped the shark. We’ve all seen that happen, and many times I realize it and still watch because of the investment in the characters outweighs some of the BS.

I’m talking more about those people who lay in the weeds to tell you “haha! I told you it was terrible and now you have to think it too!”

Maybe this sensitivity comes from being a writer and trying to see where something might have went wrong is a part of the process, but when you are giving feedback you are supposed to give “Constructive Critiques”. The people I’m talking about wouldn’t know how to do much more than “It’s stupid and so are you!”.


Why do we need to hate something? Wouldn’t it just be easier to love something different? Why can’t we change the channel?

Of course the flip-side to all of this is that desperate want for someone to agree with you that something is the BEST THING EVER!


This phenomenon is something I see mentioned in conjunction with the Walking Dead currently. It gets these monster ratings and that only seems to enrage certain people out there. But it isn’t the only thing.


I decided to get into Doctor Who this season. Yes, I realize that there have been 25+ seasons and 11 Doctors, but with a new incarnation I thought this would be the best time to maybe give it a try. So imagine my horror when everyone was talking about ending their own viewing of the show with the demise of Matt Smith’s Doctor. So many people were on Facebook talking about stopping, and I wanted to write each of them to say “Hey, I’m finally ready to fall in love with something you love and… hey where are you going?”

Why does it matter? Why does it matter to me that everyone who was watching (and I assuming loving the show) still continue with the new Doctor? What does it matter to me? And why would I even allow it to possibly affect my own enjoyment of the show?

It doesn’t. And yet, just tonight I read a blog post where the writer just had a passing slam about the new version of the show. Literally 2 sentences in a blog completely unrelated to Doctor Who in any way possible. Talking about how this version is just terrible.

And then it occured to me. That little shot at something that I like, without any explanation, feels like (whether it is or not) a personal shot at me. That by me saying “I like this thing” anytime someone else comes along and says “Well I hate that thing” it must mean that they hate something about me. And I’d rather not be hated, but somehow there is nothing I can do about it.

What is wrong with me? Why should I care?

I wish I knew.



John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at

The Darryl Problem

<Potential Walking Dead Spoilers to follow.>

Walking Dead has been back for a couple of weeks now , and I’ve been reminded of a conversation I’ve had about the show… and about the idea that the best thing the show could do is kill Darryl off.

Because he’s too popular.

Because people would lose their minds if you did it.

Because no one would expect it.


And for the most part I don’t believe any of those things are good reasons to kill a character off the show. Though, I’m also not completely on board killing off a character because everyone hates them, but I have seen that.

Let’s put aside that we’re talking about a show that kills in the ratings in a way I (a reader of the comic from issue 7 onward) would have never guessed could have happened. And that some of the decisions they have to decide on are as much about business, and perhaps not rocking the boat with such things.

Here’s the thing about killing characters off in novels, TV shows, movies, etc., once you’ve pulled that trigger you almost never can undo the deed.

Yes I realize in comics that characters come back all the time… that’s actually a different problem.

Dead is dead.

In the Walking Dead comics I believe that Shane is dead by the end of the 1st story-arc, issue 6. That means we really only got about 5 issues out of the whole dynamic of Shane vs. Rick for leadership, and Shane vs. Rick for Lori. Not really all that much time.

You notice that in the TV show Kirkman didn’t repeat that mistake. He milked that story for every bit of juice he could (some might say he stretched it out a little too long). He had a chance to change what he’d done in the first go around for the better.

In comics we see these things all the time where a new writer comes onto a book and in order to “shake things up” they kill a character off so that the rest of the cast can react to whatever happened. And they proceed to write those stories and everything is fine, until the next writer shows up and wants to write a story with the character you’ve already killed. So in order to use him/her again their choices are flashback, dream sequence, doppleganger, or just undoing the death in the first place. They put a couple of pieces of duct tape along the edges, wave their hands over the narrative, and hopefully the reader will be so happy they won’t care about the truck-sized plot holes.

TV is a little bit of a different problem. And this show in particular… as far as I know the only way you get to come back after death is as a zombie… so that fix is out.


Darryl is an interesting case as I think that the original plan wasn’t for him to become the “fan favorite” character. I wouldn’t be surprised if the writers thought he’d be killed off early in season 2. But something happened… people liked him. They saw him as not just a redneck like his brother, but someone who might be able to become a hero… maybe someone we can root for… or maybe he was just the opposite of Shane, someone we saw was headed towards a confrontation with Rick sooner or later.

Whatever it was, the writers used that feedback and by this point in the story he certainly is one of the more important characters on the show.

I feel like when you are enjoying a story, no matter what form it takes, that the characters are there to serve the tale, but the tale is there to serve the characters as well. Many articles and interviews with authors have talked about a magical moment where the character starts dictating what is going to happen to them. That is the moment when those plans of killing off a character sometimes hit the biggest snag. Suddenly they aren’t going to go down willingly, they are going to fight and claw for every moment of their lives.

But in the end, I think that when you make the decision to kill a character, regardless of their popularity, that it isn’t something to do just to get a shock out of the fans. Because the shock will eventually wear off, and suddenly that character you wanted to tell one more story about is no longer around for you to do that much.

That’s a lot of generalities, but let’s assume that you were going to write Darryl’s death… wouldn’t you want his story told? His character arc finished? And would you have him go out in a way that is uninspiring and forgettable (or laughable even?)?

I would offer that he deserves… no, he’s managed to earn a quality death. Probably doing something to save the others in his group at the cost of his own life. You have a situation where you not only need to do right by the fans and what they’ve come to love about the character, but also do right by the character himself.

And it shouldn’t be as a lark.

And it shouldn’t be as a “I’ve run out of ideas” thing.

And it shouldn’t be as a reaction to him being “unkillable” because the fans love him too much.

No, it should happen because that is the next story you want to tell. And the ones after that one no longer need him to be told.


John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at