Axel (The Walking Dead)
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (April 2013)|
|The Walking Dead character|
|First appearance||Issue #13 (comics)
"Seed" (TV series)
|Last appearance||Issue #47 (Alive) (comics)
Issue #75 (Bonus Ending) (comics)
"Home" (TV series)
|Portrayed by||Lew Temple|
Axel is a fictional character from the comic book series The Walking Dead and the television series of the same name. He appeared in the comics in Issue 13 and outlived his fellow prisoners by a long time, until his death at the hands of the Governor. Axel's catchphrase "You follow me?" has grown popular amongst fans.
Comic book series
Axel is introduced as one of the four prisoners taking refuge in the prison. He is seen as a pervert, but otherwise as one of the more friendly inmates. He befriends Rick's group quickly and sides with them over his fellow prisoners. After the deaths of Andrew and Dexter, he continues to stay with Rick. He soon starts helping Tyreese burn the bodies and Hershel with his crops. During the prison break in Volume 5, he manages to survive along with most of the others. A while later, he starts a relationship with Patricia, Otis' ex-girlfriend. During the prison assault, he is one of the primary fighters defending Rick's group. He is, however, shot in the head and dies. Patricia is very upset over his death; however, she dies only a little while later.
In the television series, Axel appears much younger. He first appears in the Season 3 premiere, "Seed", as one of the five prison inmates (along with Tomas, Andrew, Big Tiny, and Oscar) where they witness Rick amputating the lower portion of Hershel's leg after he is bitten by walkers. In the episode "Sick", Rick makes a deal with the Prisoners to clear out a cell block for them in exchange for half of their food. Tomas kills Big Tiny after he is scratched by a walker. Tomas tries twice to kill Rick while clearing out the cells, so Rick kills Tomas, and chases Andrew and locks him in a courtyard full of walkers. Rick, Daryl, and T-Dog hold Axel and Oscar at gunpoint; Axel begs for his life, but Oscar refuses to beg. Rick's group shows mercy on them and allows them to stay in the prison, though he and Oscar are told to stay in another block. In the episode "Killer Within", Oscar and Axel find it very disturbing to stay with their deceased inmates and beg Rick to let them stay. T-Dog sympathizes with the prisoners and asks Rick to let them join the group, but Rick is adamant about keeping to their earlier compromise. Later, a horde of walkers is let into the prison courtyard, resulting in the deaths of T-Dog and Lori. When the prison's sirens sound off, Oscar explains that the back-up generators are powering the alarms, and takes Rick to shut them down. Andrew, who survived and is revealed to have let the walkers loose and turned on the alarms, attacks Rick in the generator room. Oscar kills Andrew, and Oscar and Axel are then allowed to stay with the others. In the episode "Say the Word", Axel helps dig graves for those who died during the walker attack. In the episode "When the Dead Come Knocking", Axel volunteers to go to Woodbury, but stays behind to protect the prison. In the episode "Made to Suffer", Axel soon tries to win the favor of the group by trying to stir up conversations and takes a liking to Beth and Carol, flirting with them both. In the episode "The Suicide King", Axel, Hershel, and Beth, visit new arrivals Tyreese, Sasha, Allen, and Ben. In the episode "Home", Axel helps the group fortify the prison, and becomes friendly with Carol by telling her stories of his criminal past. He is killed by The Governor by a shot to the head as part of a surprise attack initiating his assault on the prison.
Lew Temple was cast as Axel, and this was revealed through a Twitter post by Glenn Mazzara. It included his catch phrase 'Ya' follow me?' as well as other characters such as Oscar.
Lew Temple on Axel: "Axel is a gregarious Southern redneck-biker type, who has big heart no doubt," "He has a sense of compassion for his fellow man, but he is not as meek as he might appear, and though he has had to survive with four other hardened criminals, sans Oscar, this brave new world is something entirely different for him. He wants to associate and assimilate into the group of survivors, to the point of trying too hard to be accepted. He has a wry sense of humor and ironic quick wit. He will make you laugh and cry in the same offering."
Zack Handlen, writing for The A.V. Club in his review of "Sick", joked of Oscar and Axel, "I'm sure the remaining prisoners are completely harmless. They said they were harmless—why would they lie?" Showrunner Glen Mazzara commented that in "Killer Within", Axel and Oscar want to be let into the group so they "prove themselves, which is why Oscar takes action and kills Andrew (Markice Moore), so that he can gain access to the group. Throughout the entire season, it's a major theme: Who can Rick let in? Not just into the prison, but let in emotionally." Los Angeles Times columnist Laura Hudson observed tribalism as a trope in "Killer Within", which she ascribed to the reluctance of Maggie, Rick, and others in the group to allow Oscar and Axel into their clan. Hudson noted that these characters had been severed from the cultural and social fabric of their past civilization for so long that they have reverted to "traveling in a small, tightly knit group, hunting and gathering, and regarding anyone who isn't part of their it as a deadly threat." Zack Handlen commented in his review of "Made to Suffer" that "Axel's enthusiasm for getting laid is sending off all kinds of creepy vibes, just the way he got real interested when he found out Beth was 17 could be a bad sign. (His assumption that Carol was a lesbian was kind of funny, though.)"
Lew Temple found out about Axel's death about two weeks before the episode "Home" was filmed: "[Glen Mazzara] had just come down to screen the season 3 premiere episode for cast and crew on location. It was great! It was a lovely evening. We celebrated an amazing kick-off to a great new season. And that particular night was the first time I had met Glen in person. We had a really nice visit about what we were doing with Axel, and he was so effusive and kind and lovely, saying "I really dig how you're bringing Axel out, and the layers that are there. We can go in so many directions because you're keeping things close to the vest and we're not sure what he's about." So I was fairly excited, and I got a call from his assistant the next day saying Glen wanted to speak with me, and I'm like oh, great!, assuming he's going to want to speak more about character development. 15 to 20 seconds into the conversation he says, "Lew, this is really unfortunate but I've got to let you know that Axel is going to take a bullet to the head." Eric Goldman at IGN thought the death of Axel was a huge surprise. Phil Dyess-Nugent, writing for The A.V. Club, commented that in his earlier appearances, "Lew Temple managed to invest Axel with a certain mangy charm, and he really blossoms in this episode; when he's chatting up Carol and shining a little white-trash charm, I found myself thinking, "Shit, I'm glad this guy's around," which is a thought I haven't had about Rick or Glenn or Maggie or Hershel in living memory. Unfortunately, the show itself seems to share Rick's distrust of letting in strangers."
- The Walking Dead #47-48
- Decker, Sean. Exclusive: Lew Temple Talks The Walking Dead, Upcoming Projects, and More! Dread Central (November 30, 2012)
- Handlen, Zack (October 21, 2012). "Sick". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
- Abrams, Natalie (November 4, 2012). "The Walking Dead Bosses on Two Big Deaths: "It Was Not an Easy Decision"". TV Guide. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
- Hudson, Laura (November 5, 2012). "'Walking Dead' recap: No more kid stuff". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
- Handlen, Zack (December 2, 2012). "'Made to Suffer'". The A.V. Club. Onion Inc. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
- Ross, Dalton. "Lew Temple (a.k.a. Axel) talks about the latest 'Walking Dead' shocker". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- Goldman, Eric (February 17, 2013). "The Walking Dead: "Home" Review". IGN. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
- Dyess-Nugent, Phil (February 17, 2013). "Home". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 24, 2013.