The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead Waited Too Long To Fix Ezekiel

Ezekiel was an important player in The Walking Dead's war against Negan and the Saviors, but after that, he seemed to be unfortunately forgotten.

Despite surviving to the end of the series, Ezekiel became an unfortunate sacrifice in The Walking Dead’s final seasons, seeming to only be remembered in the series finale. AMC’s long-running series came to an end on November 20, 2022, closing the door on over a decade of adventures in the zombie apocalypse in the main series, while preparing several new spinoffs. The Walking Dead was always known for its large and ever-growing cast, but while this helped to introduce many separate storylines, the sheer size of the cast meant that some characters got lost in the crowd.

Khary Payton debuted as Ezekiel, otherwise known as King Ezekiel, in The Walking Dead season 7, episode 2, “The Well,” as the leader of the Kingdom, a community revealed to also be under the thumb of Negan and the Saviors. Ezekiel became a hugely important player in the war against the Saviors, battling alongside the communities of Alexandria, led by Rick, and the Hilltop Colony, led by Maggie, with the help of his pet tiger, Shiva. Ezekiel’s mystery and grandeur made him an incredibly entertaining character, but unfortunately, once the war was won, Ezekiel seemed to fade into the background.

Ezekiel Became A Background Character In The Walking Dead

king ezekiel played by khary payton in the walking dead

After the war against the Saviors and Rick Grimes’ presumed death during The Walking Dead season 9, Ezekiel became something of a background character, saving space for the more substantial storylines featuring the Whisperers’ attacks, Negan’s reformation, and the introduction of the Commonwealth in The Walking Dead season 11. That’s not to say he wasn’t a part of some important stories, such as his relationship with Carol, the death of their son, Henry, and the onset of his thyroid cancer. However, Carol seemed to be the constant focus in the aftermath of Henry’s death, and Ezekiel’s cancer never really received the airtime it deserved.

In Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead graphic novel series, Ezekiel fell victim to Alpha’s infiltration of the community fair, becoming one of the head’s on pikes that were seen at the end of The Walking Dead season 9, episode 15, “The Calm Before.” Kirkman himself stated how he missed the character in the comics, and regretted killing him so soon, which is why the decision was made to keep him in the TV series, but this might have had the adverse effect of the writers running out of stories for Ezekiel. Khary Payton’s portrayal of Ezekiel was fantastic, and while he did see redemption, this happened far too late.

The Walking Dead Season 11 Tried To Fix Ezekiel

ezekiel as the new commonwealth governor in the walking dead season 11

Despite Ezekiel being a key player in the core group of survivors finding the Commonwealth, with the help of Eugene, Yumiko, and newcomer Princess, even The Walking Dead’s final season rushed through any storylines featuring the former King. His cancer is removed during season 11, episode 12, “The Lucky Ones,” and after that, Ezekiel all but disappears from the action. However, this is sort of rectified as Ezekiel is shown with his old fire returning as he stops Negan and Annie from being shot, and is eventually shown being elected as the Commonwealth’s new Governor after a year-long time jump in The Walking Dead’s series finale.

The Walking Dead’s Ezekiel Fix Came Too Late

negan and ezekiel in the walking dead season 11

Even though it was great to see Ezekiel take up a leadership position in the Commonwealth, almost ending where he began since he had been the charismatic leader of the Kingdom, putting Ezekiel front-and-center once again came too late for The Walking Dead. These final moments would have had far more impact if Ezekiel had been given a more substantial role in the final season, perhaps by further expanding on his tumultuous relationship with Negan, or even finding true closure with his ex-wife, Carol. Unfortunately, Ezekiel’s fate as the new Commonwealth Governor seemed to fall flat, despite it being the perfect ending for the character.

In fairness, there wasn’t a loose end left for Ezekiel at the end of The Walking Dead series finale, but it would have been great to see him receive more of a hefty role, especially since he had been a staple of the series for several seasons. Ezekiel had been through a lot over the course of his TWD career, and these storylines deserved a more powerful ending. It’s unclear whether this will be the last audiences see of Ezekiel, since speculation is rising about a reunion after the upcoming spinoffs, and Ezekiel himself could see his own future series now that The Walking Dead has come to an end.

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