|This article is about the TV Series character. You may be looking for the Comic Series or Road to Survival counterparts.|
- "I started drinking right after I quit smoking. How's that for ironic? It wasn't something that got out of control. It was always bad. I was drunk the day Kenneth was born. Hell, I can't even remember the first time I saw him. I joined A.A. after that. But... When Kenny was 2, me and Tammy were barely making ends meet. I guess the stress of it all got to me. I don't know. I was on my way to pick him up from the sitter's, and I saw the sign for McDuffy's off the highway. The sitter could smell the whiskey on me. She told me. She didn't want to hand him over. She tried to grab my keys. I wouldn't give her a choice. I took my son, and I put him in the truck. The next thing I remember, I was pulled off the road and Tammy was there. I called her, I guess, and told her I was drunk. And she came to pick us up and take us home... I thought for sure she'd be gone after that, but she stuck around. She said I was sick that we swore to stay together no matter what and that's what we were gonna do. I never took a drink after that. I wasn't even tempted. At least, not until... Well, you know the rest."
- —Earl telling Maggie how he started to drink.[src]
Earl Sutton is a survivor of the outbreak in AMC's The Walking Dead. He is a resident and the blacksmith of the Hilltop Colony, alongside his wife Tammy Rose and son Kenneth. Six years later, Earl and Tammy adopt an orphaned Whisperer baby and named him Adam Sutton. Sometime after the fair massacre and due to the lack of leadership, Earl becomes a member of the Hilltop Council.
At some point, Earl married Tammy and had a son with her, Ken. He was an alcoholic, to the point that he was drunk when Ken was born and can't even remember the first time he saw him. When Ken was two, Earl got into a fight with the babysitter and drove off with Ken, drunk. He latter pulled over and called Tammy to pick them up. He expected his wife to leave him, but she didn't. From that day, Earl swore off drinking, staying sober for the next twenty years.
At some point in the apocalypse, Earl and his family joined a community called the Hilltop Colony. Over time, he became the main blacksmith and he also helped in building jail cells in the Barrington house basement.
When the community had democratic elections between Maggie and Gregory to elect a new leader, Earl was one of the residents who, despite not being convinced by Maggie's decisions to provide provisions to the Saviors, voted for her after taking into account Gregory's ineptitude to be a leader.
Upon being informed by Maggie of Kenneth's death, Earl remains in silent as an emotional Tammy scolds Maggie for getting her son killed, reminding her that she voted for her in the election. Earl tries to calm her down but Tammy doesn't listen and criticizes Maggie's decision to supply the Saviors. He then chooses to leave the room. During Kenneth's funeral, a heartbroken Earl listens as Alden sings and then as Gregory gives a eulogy. He then helps to place the lid on the coffin and prepare to bury his son.
Gregory then approaches Tammy and Earl with a bottle of whiskey. She drinks herself to sleep, leaving Earl and Gregory to talk, with Gregory breaking Earl's non-drinking policy and taking advantage of him. Through some cunning words, Gregory suggests to Earl that Maggie does not have to be in charge of Hilltop anymore. When Maggie rushes towards Glenn's grave, she is attacked by a hooded and drunk Earl, who also knocks over Hershel's stroller. Enid intervenes but gets pushed to the ground hard and is knocked out. Alden and Cyndie arrive and manage to stop Earl.
The next night, a restrained Earl watches from the crowd as Maggie gives a speech to the residents about the punishment in the community and then orders for Gregory to be executed by hanging to the shock of everyone.
Following Gregory's execution, Earl is imprisoned in Hilltop's cell as punishment for over a month. When Maggie allows Tammy to see her husband, she tells him she forgives him and claims that what he did was a mistake and he's a good and changed man. They talk a little about their past and Earl says he needs the forgiveness of Maggie.
Later that day, Maggie talks to Earl herself. He mentions how he became an alcoholic, not remembering seeing his son for the first time and how an accident made him stop drinking for over twenty years. He says that despite being drunk he was aware of his actions and says he regrets trying to kill her. Eventually, Maggie releases him from his cell to pay his debt, since he made her remember how her father was an alcoholic too and got a second chance in life.
Six years after Rick's assumed death, Earl now acts as a full-time Blacksmith and has taken Alden as his apprentice. When Michonne and Siddiq arrive at Hilltop with a group of newcomers, he looks on as they talk with Tara and Enid. Later that day, Earl is at his blacksmith tent and offers his new apprentice Henry an invitation to have dinner with him and Tammy that night but Henry politely rejects him after seeing Alden and Enid kissing.
That night, Tara takes Earl down to the jail where Henry sits in a cell as punishment for misbehavior. Feeling disappointed and betrayed, Earl tells him he will no longer teach him and to return to the Kingdom. However, Henry explains his community is counting on him and begs for another chance. Earl then remembers that he once got spared too after his wrongful actions and promises to talk to Jesus when he returns.
Earl is checked up by Enid for an injury and she suggests he retire, but he refuses. Tammy thanks Enid for helping and assures her Alden will turn up. When Alpha arrives outside the gates with a group of Whisperers to offer trading Alden and Luke for her captive daughter, Earl helps to look around the community for the missing Lydia.
When Connie runs out of the cornfield, sling-shots a walker, and saves a baby left by the Whisperers to be devoured by an approaching herd, Earl, Tammy, Daryl, and Kelly step in to rescue her. At night, Earl and Tammy hold the baby and share a happy moment together, having decided to adopt the abandoned child.
Earl is part of Tara's group in charge of clearing a tree from their path to the Kingdom to ensure the roads are cleared for Alden's convoy carrying the food and trade goods for the fair. While on the road, Earl tells Tammy not to get too attatched to the baby as he deserves to be adopted by a younger couple.
Later that day, a small herd of walkers approaches the group. They get in position and remind themselves to watch for the Whisperers. Earl is almost bitten by a walker but is saved in time by Tammy. Suddenly, the Highwaymen ride up on horses and introduce themselves to Tara after helping to take down the herd. They then escort them to the Kingdom, having accepted Carol's deal.
Upon arriving at the Kingdom, Earl and Tammy are greeted by Nabila. She asks them about the baby and Tammy admits to Earl she wants to keep the baby with them. Earl smiles and embraces her.
When the fair begins, Earl trades some of his blacksmithing work with some residents as Tammy carries her adopted son. They then walk around with their baby and talk about his new name. When Tammy suggests they should call him Adam, Earl jockingly mentions he had a friend in high school named Adam who was an asshole. Later that day, Earl looks around the fair for a missing Tammy with the help of Connie and Kelly.
The next day, Earl listens from the crowd as Siddiq delivers the tragic news about the fate of the missing fair attendees, tells them how brave the victims were in their final moments and how he was intentionally kept alive to tell this very story. He encourages everyone to remember the fallen as brave heroes and to honor them.
Some months after the blizzard, Earl is among the coalition members drafted into the militia that was formed in response to the Whisperer threat. He and the other militia conduct a training exercise on the Oceanside beach. As Ezekiel and Jerry methodically release walkers from a shipwrecked boat, Earl and the other militia work together as a unit to take out the walker threat.
They are successful and return to Oceanside to rest, eat, and socialize with the Oceansiders. That night, Earl helps put out the fire that was ignited in the woods in Whisperer territory after a satellite from outer space crashes.
Earl is alerted to the commotion of a tree falling onto a house and a portion of Hilltop's walls. When the group debates if the Whisperers are responsible, Earl yells that they are already at war. He then helps the other residents rescue the trapped injured from the rubble.
The next day, Earl and the other residents kill the incoming walkers with the help of the Alexandria convoy when the herd invades the community that night. The following morning, Earl helps load the supplies onto the cart for the parting group towards Oceanside and watches as they leave the community.
Earl helps out around the community following their recent attack and complains to Yumiko about their lack of retaliation against the Whisperers. Later that day, Earl tells Alden the Whisperers will eventually return while he claims he hasn't forgotten about what they had lost.
This list shows the victims Earl Sutton has killed:
- It is hinted in "Bounty" that Earl may suffer from arthritis.