This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of The Walking Dead television series, as well as for the graphic and prose novels.
In the world of The Walking Dead, be it comic series, TV series, or hardcover novels, the course of true love never does run smooth, providing dedicated shippers with a veritable buffet.
Rick/Lori/Shane: Here we have a classic triangle. Rick starts off the story married to his beloved Lori, who thinks he’s dead, so she turns to his best friend, Shane, only to have Rick show up very much alive. Rick and Lori reunite in every way and Lori soon discovers she is pregnant, but who’s the daddy?
Shipping Prognosis: Sunk. With Lori and Shane both dead in all formats of the franchise, we’ll never know what might have been. At least TV Rick has baby Judith to comfort him in his grief. Will he get a second chance at love a la Comic Series Rick, and if so, with whom? Is Rick better off staying solo for now?
Maggie/Glenn: Ah, young love. Would farmer’s daughter Maggie and city boy Glenn even have met in any other circumstance? They’ve shared the intimacy of Glenn’s first prayer ever, made love in an abandoned pharmacy and wouldn’t turn on each other no matter what torture The Governor threw in their path. It was only to save Glenn that Maggie spilled the location of the prison, and he understood; he’d have done the same. If these two can face and escape certain death side by side, that’s good enough for me.
Shipping Prognosis: Looks good at this point. In the comic series, Glenn and Maggie’s wedding provides a much needed moment of relief from the horrors of everyday life, and would translate beautifully to the small screen. The comic series also finds these two becoming adoptive parents and debating the ethics of creating biological children in such a perilous world. I’m rooting for their TV HEA.
Carol/Daryl: TV Carol has been through enough hell on earth to last a dozen lifetimes, surviving domestic abuse and outliving her only child, Sophia, only to see a zombified Sophia put down in front of her. What better partner than Daryl, who’s equally proficient at killing zombies, hunting game and comforting infants in distress? Daryl searched tirelessly for the missing Sophia and comforted Carol with the legend of the Cherokee Rose. Shippers everywhere sighed when Daryl dropped that flower on the empty grave that served as Carol’s memorial, and cheered when he freed a very much alive Carol from the prison cell where she’d taken shelter after fighting her way through a horde of walkers.
Shipping prognosis: Before the midseason finale, I would have said this couple is a slam dunk from fan response alone. Possible game changer? Tyreese. In the comic series, the Carol/Tyreese/Michonne triangle had huge ramifications for all three parties as well as other members of the group. Comic Series Carol also proposed a polygamous relationship with Rick and Lori, but was turned down by both. I’ll call this cautiously optimistic, but in the world of The Walking Dead, anything can happen.
Andrea/The Governor (aka Philip): Andrea sure does know how to pick her men. First she propositions Shane, and now she’s sleeping with the devil, almost literally. The man has an aquarium full of severed undead heads, kept his zombified daughter locked in a closet, and he can still get consensual nooky? Some viewers may posit that the zombies already ate Andrea’s brain.
Shipping Prognosis: Grim, and possibly in more ways than one, but both parts of this pair have had interesting love lives in different formats. While Philip Blake did have a relationship with a musician named April in the novel, Rise of the Governor, that did not end at all well, as Philip never did understand when no means no.
Comic Series Andrea, on the other hand, entered the story happily partnered with the much older Dale. This May/December couple stood by each other despite their insecurities –did Dale still love his late wife? Would Andrea want a younger mate?—to serve as adoptive parents to orphaned twin boys. They comforted each other after the deaths of their adopted sons, and it was Andrea who did her final duty by putting down the doomed Dale before he could turn. Comic Series Andrea also gets a second chance at love, but I remain team Andrea/Dale.
Other/Other?: With the franchise including TV, comics, novels, and now a video game, other ships are bound to set sail. What couples or sorts of couples would you like to see? Aaron and Eric from the comic series? Though TV Sophia is out of the running, surely Carl isn’t the last tween standing. Who knows what the future will bring, but one thing is sure: even the zombie apocalypse can’t stand in the way of real love.
Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.