The Background Survivors, also sometimes classified as "redshirts" are the survivors who linger in the background during episodes while the main survivors are engaged in the story. These survivors usually have no part in the main storyline and perform normal, everyday, non-crucial actions, such as laundry and chores in the camp.
Background survivors are usually left unnamed, have no speaking roles, and are uncredited. They are ideal for being used as redshirts, characters used to "dramatize the dangerous situation experienced by the main characters", such as the zombie attack on the camp in Season 1 Episode 4 ("Vatos") or in the prison in Season 4 Episode 2 ("Infected").
With the introduction of several towns and communities, extras are utilized as background survivors to show a large population at these settlements, including Woodbury, Alexandria Safe-Zone, Hilltop Colony, and the prison community. Extras are also used to populate several groups, including the Wolves, the Saviors, the Governor's new group of followers, and the Vatos gang, among other minor groups.
Atlanta Survivor Camp
A total of 33 survivors lived in the camp set up outside of Atlanta, Georgia, 13 being nameless, background survivors. They seem detached from the main cast as they have no major dialogue (except screaming when the walkers attack), and only participate during significant events, such as Rick Grimes or T-Dog radioing camp and the violent confrontations with Daryl Dixon and Jim. During the zombie attack on the camp in the episode "Vatos", all background survivors were killed in the attack, whether they appeared or not, as filming took place over a span of multiple of days and not all extras were recurring. The following morning, Glenn Rhee insisted that they all be buried on the hillside, instead of being burned along with the rest of the zombie carcasses.
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- Orlando Vargas was originally supposed to be credited and had a longer scene for his death when the zombies attacked the camp. Ultimately, the scene was deleted and Orlando remained uncredited.
- It appears that a handful of background survivors (Jan, Frances Cobb, L. Stephanie Ray, Male Survivors # 1 & 2) appear exclusively in Days Gone Bye and Guts, most likely due to filming days and availability while other background survivors appear in later episodes, or are seen in all of them (excluding TS-19). "Days Gone Bye", "Guts", and the beginning of "Tell It to the Frogs" appear to take place on the same day, while the rest of "Tell It to the Frogs" and "Vatos" take place the next day, which could lead to different extras being available due to multiple filming days.
- Another reason for having more extras appear on the 'first day' could be to make the camp look busy, as several characters had not been introduced on the show yet (Daryl, Ed, Carol, Sophia, Miranda, Louis, Eliza). Despite some of the extras not appearing in "Vatos" and "Wildfire", their characters (as unnamed background survivors) are considered dead as numerous bodies were seen being buried and the fact that they do not appear in the aftermath and none are considered missing, otherwise it would have been stated in the episode.
- Speaking Roles
Even though background survivors did not have credited speaking lines, some of their voices can be heard in the episode "Tell It to the Frogs".
- "Hey, Dale, can you see what that is?" - said by an unknown background man when the group hears the approaching car alarm.
- "Let him get a good look at it." - said by an unknown (possibly the same) man when the group asks what the sound is.
- "Morning." - said by extra Mitch as Rick leaves his tent early the next day.
- "It's over there!" - said by an unknown background man when the group hears the screams of Carl and Sophia in the woods.
- "Over here! Come on, come on!" - said by an unknown background man telling the group where the sounds came from.
At the nursing home are more than a dozen Vatos gang members, both thugs and nurses, as well as more than a dozen elderly residents that live in the well-protected compound. The thugs are seen working on vehicles in the garage, patrolling the compound and rooftops, and back up Guillermo when Rick and his men confront him. The survivors are only seen in Vatos.
In the deleted scene from the Season Two premiere it is revealed that the compound was breached, with many thugs killed by zombies and the elderly residents all executed with gunshot wounds to the head. Whether the Vatos gang figured out everyone was infected and killed the old folk as a mercy killing/to prevent animation/death by zombies, or the compound was attacked by a separate group, is unknown.
- Thugs and guards
- Elderly residents and nursing staff
1st Cavalry Division
Numerous members of the United States Armed Forces appear in the Season 1 Episode, TS-19, in Shane's flashback. They execute infected civilians and attempt the evacuation of others. Around half a dozen of them are killed during the episode. Their uniform patches show that they are members of the 1st Cavalry Division of the U.S. Army.
Six unnamed (with the exception of Wilson), uncredited National Guardsmen were seen at a small encampment in Season 3's "Walk With Me". They were all led by Brady and were murdered by The Governor's men as they led an ambush on the encampment.
For a list of background survivors, their episode appearances, and additional images, please see: Background Survivors (TV Series)/Woodbury Survivors
According to Rowan, a total of 73 survivors live in the town of Woodbury, with approximately 60 of them being unnamed. These men, women, and children live in the town and perform certain duties as apart of their jobs, such as landscaping or gardening, while children attend schools. Some men act as the town's guards and defenders, patrolling the walls.
The survivors gathered around The Governor when he and his men returned to town with several military vehicles, and they examined the vehicles after The Governor's speech. (Walk With Me)
Many of the town's residents were seen enjoying the midday barbeque and listened to The Governor's speech and attended the gladiator fight at night between Merle Dixon and Caesar Martinez. (Say the Word)
Many survivors were seen out and about on the streets after Warren's gun went off. Many are reassured by The Governor that things are okay and are told to return to their homes, while a few other armed residents were told to be on the look out for the intruders. When Rick and his group start shooting in town, the residents start fleeing and racing for cover. The gunfight left five of the guards dead (including Bob Adams and Eisenberg). A large group of angered residents gather at the arena and demand the deaths of the Dixon brothers. (Made to Suffer)
The residents flee in terror after Rick and Maggie shoot out the lights and throw in smoke grenades in order to rescue Daryl, leaving Haley dead as she was hit by a stray bullet. The next morning, many are seen trying to flee Woodbury, but are prevented by Caesar Martinez and the other guards. They also witness the attack and mercy killing of Richard Foster. Later, they are back on the street but are calmed down by Andrea, who gives a speech about sticking together. (The Suicide King)
Many of the already-trained townspeople are seen on guard duty on the walls and streets, an increased presence than before. Others help board the buildings' windows with wood and secure the fence to make it stronger. A number of residents, including Noah and Ms. McLeod, are evaluated by The Governor, as they are drafted to be trained in firearms in order to increase the town's number of defenders and soldiers. (I Ain't a Judas)
A group of nine unnamed men, in addition to Ben, Allen, Shumpert, and Martinez, accompanied The Governor to the feed store to ambush Rick's group when they came with Michonne. Instead, they were attacked by Merle, who was able to kill eight men (including Ben), before being attacked by two surviving unnamed men, Martinez, and The Governor. (This Sorrowful Life)
The town is divided in two, as a group of armed residents head to the prison to attack Rick's group while a few others, mostly children and elderly, stay behind in Woodbury. The prison assault fails and everyone flees. The Governor stops the fleeing convoy on the road and demands everyone to go back, in which people begin to protest. As a result, the Governor opens fire in a rage, killing everyone, including Allen and Paul, while teenager Jody was killed by Carl Grimes in the woods. The residents back at Woodbury are brought to the prison to join the community after they find out that The Governor has slaughtered everyone. (Welcome to the Tombs)
- Despite some of the background survivors not appearing in the army for the prison raid or even the episodes after the mid-season finale, it is assumed that they all have been killed by the Governor. As for all of the children not seen at the prison afterwards, it is unknown what happened to them. Regardless, even with the lack of continuity in the extras, it is assumed that anyone not at the prison is simply dead.
- Two background survivors have been identified as Eileen and Ms. McLeod while any of the others may be Pete or Robbie, as those two characters are unseen. In addition, two of the guards killed in "Made to Suffer" are Bob Adams and Eisenberg.
- There are far more extras in total than the official population count, as some extras may not be able to return for scenes in certain episodes and have to be replaced by others.
- Since the arena is a separate set & filming location, there is a noticeable difference in the extras that play the Woodbury citizens. Some are seen only at the arena while others are only seen in town, though there are numerous people who appear at both locations.
- In the first scene of residents gathering at the Arena in "Made to Suffer", the shot of people sitting on the bleachers is actually from "Say the Word" as they are in same clothing and do not appear in the rest of the scenes during "Made to Suffer".
- Since most of the survivor extras do not have crucial roles to perform during filming, it is not uncommon to see the same person walk back and forth during a scene. For instance, when Michonne and Andrea talk while walking through town in "Walk With Me", a red-haired boy in a blue shirt can be seen walking in the background past the women, but when the camera turns to Shumpert, who is watching the women, the boy is suddenly in a chair next to him. These are minor bloopers.
- It can be assumed anyone not seen after the arena attack is considered another casualty of the attack.
In addition to the Woodbury refugees, many stragglers were found in the wild by Rick and Daryl and were brought to the prison, including Zach, Bob Stookey, Patrick, David, Ryan Samuels, Lizzie Samuels, Mika Samuels, Henry, Chloe, Noris, Caleb Subramanian, Luke, Molly and more.
For a list of background survivors, their episode appearances, and additional images, please see: Background Survivors (TV Series)/Prison Community
Many of the prison community members are seen idling in the background talking to others, eating their meal or performing chores as seen in "30 Days Without An Accident". Many of the prison extras were victims of the zombie attack in Cell Block D while many more were able to escape alive in "Infected". However, many of these cell block survivors fell ill to the mysterious flu in "Isolation", and many eventually died as seen in "Internment". Those who survived were administered aid and have begun recovery. Following the prison attack led by the Governor in "Too Far Gone, a group of people were able to flee on the Woodbury bus with Jeanette, while some have been killed in the prison as the tank destroyed the buildings and scores of zombies flooded the complex. In "Inmates", it is revealed that all of the prison residents who escaped on the bus were killed after a few people reanimated due to being shot and fed upon their fellow survivors.
- It is said that all of the Woodbury children and elderly have been moved to the prison. However, there were significantly more children extras seen in town that have not been seen past the mid-season finale. This is most likely due to lack of extra continuity.
- Season 4 has been very consistent with extra continuity, as many prison extras are recurring and have been seen in multiple episodes, a big improvement compared to Season 3 that saw over 120+ extras over the season to represent 50 or so unnamed townspeople.
In "Dead Weight", the Governor and the Chambler family join a camp consisting of Martinez, Mitch Dolgen, Pete Dolgen, and Alisha along with 20 unnamed survivors. As of "Too Far Gone", the majority of the background survivors are dead, having been killed during the prison assault. A few background survivors (mostly children, women, and the elderly) were left behind that the river camp and their fates remain unknown, despite not participating in the prison assault.
For a list of background survivors, their episode appearances, and additional images, please see: Background Survivors (TV Series)/Martinez's Group Survivors
- While "Dead Weight" and "Too Far Gone" used the same extras for both episodes, a few extras were brought in specifically for the prison assault, including Clyde Harrold III and Glen Padgett.
- One camp extra, Vernon Swygert, was selected to return as a newly-reanimated zombie in "After" and briefly served as one of Michonne's pets.
- Some of the camp extras were not shown killed in "Too Far Gone", but they are all assumed dead, having died off-screen.
In "A", Rick Grimes and his group arrive to Terminus, consisting of a leader Gareth and a woman named Mary who welcomes in all survivors. Terminus contains over 40 residents, with some being part of the original community and others who joined after accepting the cannibalistic way of life.
Only a few residents are seen doing everyday tasks in "A", such as painting signs which lead to Terminus or eating their meals. In "No Sanctuary", over 30 new Terminus residents are seen, bringing Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and Bob to the slaughter room and defending Terminus from the horde of walkers that overrun Terminus. Most of the residents were victims of the walkers being devoured, were shot down by Carol or killed by the flames that spread throughout Terminus. Although unknown if any escaped, Maggie tells Rick that it was either run or die as the fences were brought down.
For a list of background survivors, their episode appearances, and additional images, please see: Background Survivors (TV Series)/Terminus
Grady Memorial Hospital
A number of officers and patients reside at the community established at Grady Memorial Hospital. The following are uncredited characters, some of which are named.
The Alexandria Safe-Zone community is home to at least 60 people, a mix of credited characters and extras. Most of the background survivors can be seen socializing with neighbors, serving on the construction crew, or carrying out everyday tasks (reading, on guard duty, walking the dog). Often times, many extras are present for various events, including the Glenn/Aiden confrontation, Deanna's party, the Rick/Pete fight, and the community forum regarding Rick's fate in Season 5; the town meeting at Deanna's house, the construction of the diversion wall, Rick's speech at the town gates, the battle against the zombies after the walls fall, and Rosita's machete class in Season 6.
The majority of the background cast has been recurring between Seasons 5, 6 and 7, appearing in many episodes and some having been killed off in notable events (Wolves attack, quarry mission, etc.). There are a few extras who have only appeared once or twice, but the majority are recurring extras for Alexandria, with several recurring extras making their debut appearance in Season 6
For a list of background survivors, their episode appearances, and additional images, please see: Background Survivors (TV Series)/Alexandria Safe-Zone
The majority of the Wolves are extras, who only appear in one episode "JSS" as they attack Alexandria before being killed. Several Wolves are credited in "JSS" as well as "Conquer" and "Thank You". Those who were credited remain nameless, except for the Wolves' leader: Owen, Blond Wolf, Red Jacket Wolf, Satchel Wolf, Shaved Head Wolf, and Black Bearded Wolf.
The Hilltop Colony is a farming community made up of a smaller group of survivors than Alexandria. Many of the residents can be seen meandering in the background, working with farm animals or crafting tools at the outdoor workshops, or simply chatting with fellow residents
Since the number of people that make up the Saviors is so large, the majority of the group are made up of extras, many with one time appearances as usually their characters are killed off, as was the case in Season 6. Since "Last Day on Earth" and "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be", the Saviors have been featured as alive and as a result, are the first recurring extras of the Saviors. Since their first appearance in the Season 6 finale and Season 7 premiere, many Saviors have been recurring, appearing at the Sanctuary and at Alexandria with Negan. Some Savior extras appear exclusively at the Sanctuary, as they are "workers" or family members.
A group of at least 35 women and children make up the background population of Oceanside. Most of the children are seen playing while the women look after them or perform other duties such as lookout, gardening, laundry, and many participate in going after Tara when the alarm is raised.
A group of at least 100+ different extras make up the background population for the Scavengers. Most of the members are seen surrounding Rick's group, and are present for the trade between Rick and Jadis.
The following are miscellaneous characters, though not all necessarily survivors, that have appeared in the TV Series.
Harrison Memorial Hospital
Road to Atlanta
Dozens of background survivors were seen standing and milling around their cars, talking to others, and some fighting over supplies in the traffic jam outside of Atlanta, where they were heading to in hopes of safety, during the flashback at the beginning of the episode, "Chupacabra". They also witnessed the U.S. Military firebombing of the city. It is unclear what happened to all of the survivors, whether they escaped or were killed by zombies, it is ultimately unknown.
King County School
In Season 2's Bloodletting, there are numerous mothers waiting outside the elementary school in King County. They can be seen chatting as Lori and Paula converse. After dismissal, the children, including Carl, head to their mothers to go home.
The following characters appears in the episode "Dead Weight".
The following characters appears in the episode "Self Help".
Cold Storage Webisodes
- ↑ Redshirt is a slang term for a minor stock character of an adventure drama who dies violently soon after being introduced in order to dramatize the dangerous situation experienced by the main characters. The term originated with fans of the science fiction television series Star Trek, from the red shirts worn by Starfleet security officers and engineers, who frequently meet their demise during the episodes. Redshirt, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Frances Cobb, IMDB
- ↑ Interview with Frances Cobb
- Special thanks to Brian of MyMedia-Forum.com for several screencaps of the background survivors.
- Frances Cobb is a frequent background extra in many movies & TV shows, including as a campground survivor in The Walking Dead episodes "Days Gone Bye" and "Guts". Taken from her November 7 Facebook status posting:
- Her status: Well, no luck in being seen in either Due Date or For Colored Girls, but I was seen for the second time in The Walking Dead. Last week, I was seen after about an hour. This time, I was at the beginning in the background preparing my tent and space in the campground. Looks like they will be using the campground a couple of more times. They filmed this all in one day.
- A comment from a friend: I think I saw you in last nights episode. Don't think you were wearing your straw hat?
- Her reply: Yes, you picked me out again. I was in the background arranging things for my tent. It was near the end of the day, so, they asked that I "lose the hat." I took it off, since I was finally in the shade! I think I will be in a couple of more episodes now because of the way they are inserting these scenes. Even though we were only there one day, it looks like we were there for weeks.
- Hello. Yes that is me. Thanks for the picture. I was also in the "Guts" episode in the distance preparing my tent. I was not consciously killed, but I have not seen myself except in the first two episodes. I could not believe how many scenes there are in the campground. I was only used one day perhaps due to my need of wearing a hat due to the sun. I'm glad it has been picked up for another season, but due to the ending of the last episode, they may have to change locations of the campground!
- Background cast, Lostpedia.