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Themes: Sanity

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Sanity is a recurring theme in The Walking Dead. It is the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner. Many characters lose this ability during the zombie apocalypse. Typically, the loss of one's sanity is attributed to the death of a close family member, friend, or by a harrowing event.


Comic Series

TV Series

  • Andrea becomes careless after Amy dies.
  • Dr. Jenner tries to kill the Atlanta group, after losing hope in finding a cure. (TS-19)
  • Daryl has a hallucination of his brother Merle in the forest after the group loses Sophia. (Chupacabra)
  • Shane slowly loses his sanity after facing the fact that he will never have Lori and Carl for himself and that Rick now runs the camp, eventually leading to him attempting to kill Rick, three different times. (Wildfire - Better Angels)
  • Hershel keeps a pocket-watch as a reminder of his family.
  • Beth wants to commit suicide after the barn massacre.
  • Hershel grows careless after the barn incident.
  • Tomas and Andrew have homicidal intentions against Rick's group. (Sick, Killer Within)
  • Rick loses his sanity after learning of the death of Lori and begins to have hallucinations: having conversations with deceased people over the phone, seeing Shane as one of the Woodbury guards, and seeing hallucinations of Lori in her wedding dress and her previous clothing before her death. (Killer Within, Say the Word, Made to Suffer, The Suicide King, Home, This Sorrowful Life)
  • Glenn still has Hershel's pocket-watch.
  • T-Dog still used Andrea's gun.
  • Carl thinks about naming Judith by using names of previously dead group members.
  • The Hermit seems to have lost his sanity due to threatening to call the cops after Rick and his group break in. (When the Dead Come Knocking)
  • Michonne tells Rick that she use to have conversations with her dead boyfriend. (Home)
  • The Governor loses his sanity after the death of his daughter, Penny. (Made to Suffer)
  • Morgan is seen to have lost his sanity after the death of his son at the hands of his undead wife, whom he finally had to put down. (Clear)
  • Carl appears to have lost much of his morals after the death of his mother. His thinking appears to be radically different from that of a normal teenager after the final assault of The Governor's army at the prison. (Welcome to the Tombs)
  • Lizzie's sanity comes into question after her sister, Mika, mentions to Carol that she is a little messed up in the head.(Infected)
  • Ron Anderson loses his sanity and tries to kill Rick after witnessing the deaths of his Mother and Brother.(No Way Out)


  • B.J. loses his sanity, killing his co-workers and finding humor in others suffering. (Cold Storage)

Video Game

  • Clementine keeps her walkie-talkie as a way of coping with her thoughts regarding her parents.
  • Katjaa attempts to save the person that Lee rescued despite Lilly wanting to throw them out.
  • Lilly becomes paranoid after supplies were vanishing around the motor inn and ends up shooting Doug/Carley in a heated argument when interrogating Ben on the side of the road. (Long Road Ahead)
  • Kenny slowly loses his sanity after Duck and Katjaa die. (Long Road Ahead)
  • The Stranger becomes psychotic after Lee's group steals his family's supplies from his station wagon at the end of Episode 2, keeping his wife's zombified head inside a bowling bag. (Season 1)
  • It is possible that Nate grows psychotic after his friend is shot by Eddie. (Wyatt's Story)
  • Nate seems to lose sanity when he reveres the idea of killing the old couple in the diner, going as far as killing them regardless of what Russell has to say. (Russell's Story)
  • Sarah loses her sanity after her father is devoured in front of her. She refuses to accept the fact that he is truly dead. (Amid The Ruins)
  • Kenny begins to lose his sanity after the loss of Sarita, Rebecca and Luke. (No Going Back)

Social Game

  • Marla seems to be going insane after referencing her son and repeating wanting to go to a better place. (Social Game)

Novel Series

Abstract BetrayalCliffhangersDenialDepressionDistrustDiscriminationEnvyFearForeshadowingForgivenessHumanityHumorHopePrideRegretReligionRevengeSacrificeSanitySecrecyTeamwork
Realistic AmputationsCannibalismHeroismLeadershipNicknamesPunishment

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