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Pop Culture Data Artist, Infographics, Network Design Art, Technical Writing...

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Entries in walking dead (1)


Fan-Edited Datasets

Earlier this week I was presented with what looked like a decent dataset for the deaths in the TV show, The Walking Dead. Appeared to be good until I took a closer look. Then the data gaps and ambiguity surfaced.

The initial problem I saw was with the first deaths of the series. Three unnamed criminals were killed by the responsible party of Shane Walsh, Lam Kendal, and Leon Basset, officers on the police force. My first thought was, "Well which of those officers killed which criminals?" In order to get an accurate count, that is information I need to know. But it only got worse.

Any time there were multiple people involved in a fight there was no mention of which character will whom. This makes distinguishing kills impossible.

Then there are the ambiguous phrases like, "Shot and devoured by walkers." and "Devoured by walkers and burned in fire." In the first one it sounds like the walkers are the ones with the guns. I know the walkers don't use guns but that's what it sounds like. In the second, I wondered did the victim die in the fire or from the walkers eating them? Too many questions. An classification I used in Buffy was an assist (*) when the person was not directly responsible for a kill but helped another character make it so. This is carried one step higher with many characters getting credit for Caused. That's not the same as an assist as the character wasn't directly in the action. But with this dataset it will have to be addressed. But I noticed a vagueness when this term was used and it's impossible to discern exactly what happened.

(*) "An assist" is a term taken from hockey when a player doesn't score the goal but without their assistance another player they helped would not have scored.

A similar logistic problem that the Walking Dead has with Buffy is a character can "technically" be killed twice. First is the human death and the second when they are killed as a zombie.


As with any fan-edited dataset on the internet it is made for fans of the show (*). People who already know the circumstance of a particular death. The wikia is there to assist their memory of the event. It's the same problem I found with all the Buffy death lists. Since I knew the show I could see what was missing from the standpoint of the required data.

(*) I learned this after going through three Buffy Lists of Deaths.

As a person who has not seen The Walking Dead, I can not determine the proper situation for many of the deaths. The only was this can be done is if I am able to scrub through all five seasons of the show.