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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 for a brief period.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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 becomes unhinged and bloodthirsty 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 appeared to have lost much of his morals after the death of his mother. His thinking appeared 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 is shown to suffer from a form of mental illness and posses psychopathic tendencies. (Season 4)
  • Morgan slowly regains his sanity and a sense of purpose with the help of Eastman. (Here's Not Here)
  • Ron Anderson finds himself in a psychotic state when he tries to kill Rick after witnessing the deaths of his Mother and Brother, blaming him for the misfortune his family suffered by meeting him. (No Way Out)

Companion Series:


  • 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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