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- "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.
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 night, at Hilltop, Maggie breaks the news of Ken's death to Earl and Tammy. 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. A shocked Maggie offers to help with the funeral but Tammy declines and denies her from being present.
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 to investigate, 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 grab Earl and stop him.
The next day, at night, the residents, including Earl in restraints, gather around the gallows as Maggie explains to her people that the punishment fits the crime. She looks on at Gregory, who has a noose around his neck and is sitting on a horse. Gregory pleads for someone to stop this, but no one moves. A couple of kids show up and Michonne yells for Maggie to stop but it's too late as Daryl smacks the horse and it rides off, leaving Gregory to hang to death to everyone's shock.
Maggie tells her people that she wants this to be the last time they do something like this and then orders Daryl to cut Gregory down.
Following Gregory's execution, Earl has been immprisoned in Hilltop's cell as punishment. 35 days later, after Maggie is convinced by Jesus, Tammy is allowed to see her husband. She forgives him and misses him, claiming that what he did was a mistake and he's a good and changed man. They talk a little about their past and he claims he needs the forgiveness of Maggie, who listens on and gets a little emotional.
Later, 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.
Finally, 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 later, Earl now acts as a full time Blacksmith and has taken Alden as his apprentice.
At Hilltop, Earl watches as Tara coldly greets Michonne and updates her on Eugene, Aaron, Daryl, and Rosita's situations. Later, at his blacksmithing spot, Enid checks up on Henry and jokes with him. Earl invites him to dinner, but he refuses after seeing Enid and Alden kissing.
At night, Tara takes Earl down to the jail where Henry sits in a cell as punishment for misbehavior. Henry explains his community is counting on him and begs for another chance. Earl remembers that he once got spared too and promises to talk to Jesus when he returns.
At Hilltop, Enid treats Earl for an injury and suggests he retire, but he refuses. Tammy thanks Enid for helping and assures her Alden will turn up. Marco then runs up to tell them that the people who killed Jesus are there.
Later, Earl listens as Daryl informs he's going to trade Lydia for Alden and Luke when Magna says Lydia and Henry are missing. He tells everyone to split up and find them.
Meanwhile, Connie runs out of the cornfield, sling-shots a walker, and grabs the baby to save it from a nearby herd. The Whisperers around her unsheathe blades as Connie escapes back into the cornfield. Daryl runs in and kills the walkers around her while Kelly, Earl, and Tammy step in to rescue her.
At night, Earl and Tammy hold the baby together, having decided to adopt the abandoned child.
On the road, Tara and Magna’s group clear 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. Tammy tells Earl how happy she is to have the baby.
Later, 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.
In the Kingdom, Earl and Tammy are greeted by Nabila. She askes them about the baby and Tammy admits to Earl she wants to keep the baby with them. Earl smiles and embraces her.
In the fair, Earl trades some of his blacksmithing work with some residents. Later on, he and Tammy walk with their baby around and talk about a possible name. Later, Earl looks around for Tammy with the help of Connie and Kelly.
The next day, in the Kingdom, Earl listens from the crowd as Siddiq delivers the tragic news, tells them how brave everyone was in their final moments and how he was intentionally kept alive to tell this very story. He encourages everyone to remember the fallen.
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 will appear in this episode.
This list shows the victims Earl Sutton has killed:
- It is hinted in "Bounty" that Earl may suffer from arthritis.