Otis (The Walking Dead)
|The Walking Dead character|
|First appearance||Issue #9 (comics)
"Bloodletting" (TV series)
|Last appearance||Issue #30 (Alive) (comics)
Issue #35 (Undead) (comics)
"Save the Last One" (TV series)
|Portrayed by||Pruitt Taylor Vince|
|Significant other(s)||Patricia (lover)|
Comic book series
Otis, is the boyfriend of Patricia and a neighbor of Hershel Greene. Shown to be racist against the black survivors. When the zombie crisis began, Otis and Patricia narrowly escaped from Wiltshire Estates and were allowed to stay at Hershel's family farm until the crisis ended. Otis is kind and good-natured, and as such took it hard when he almost killed Carl after accidentally shooting him (non-fatally) while out hunting for a deer. Otis remained at the farm to look after the livestock while the Greenes left to join Rick at the prison. Otis would later follow, and was saved from zombies surrounding the prison by the newly arrived Michonne and joined the group (though ended his relationship with Patricia after learning of her part in Dexter's attempted coup). Later, the prison was (temporarily) overrun by zombies while rescuing Tyreese following his return from searching for Rick, Michonne, and Glenn. Otis was attacked by zombies and killed. When Rick and his group returned from Woodbury Otis had turned into a walker. Rick shoots him in the head.
Fictional character biography
Otis is Hershel Greene's ranch hand and Patricia's husband. In the season 2 premiere "What Lies Ahead", Carl is shot at the end of the episode while looking at a deer in the woods. In the next episode "Bloodletting", it is revealed that Otis accidentally shot and wounded Carl while hunting the deer, and Otis leads Rick and Shane to Hershel's farm to get help. Guilt-ridden over Carl's wounding, he volunteers to go with Shane to the local high school to get the medical supplies needed to save Carl's life. They retrieve the supplies, but are forced to barricade themselves in the high school when walkers swarm the medical supply trailer. In the next episode "Save the Last One", both Otis and Shane are injured while fleeing the large herd of walkers that had entered the school. They run low on ammunition and seem in danger of being overtaken as they limp back to their car. Shane returns to the farm alone, and tells the group that Otis sacrificed himself in order to make sure Shane made it back to save Carl. However, a flashback reveals that Shane shot Otis in the leg, leaving him to be devoured so that Shane can escape. When Shane tries to take the supplies from Otis, the two scuffle and Otis rips out some of Shane's hair; Shane shaves his head at the end of the episode to eliminate this evidence. In the episode "Cherokee Rose", Otis appears again in flashback; at his funeral service Patricia asks Shane to talk about Otis's last moments, but Shane tells them that Otis sacrificed his life so that Shane could bring the medicine to Carl, while Shane recalls the memory of his betrayal of Otis.
Development and reception
In June 2011, it was announced that actor Pruitt Taylor Vince would appear on the second season as Otis, a recurring character. Steve West of Cinema Blend expressed concern in his review of "Bloodletting" about how new characters would be introduced on the show, noting that a character like Otis "would typically be a yokel in other stories. Here he's just a guy trying to help feed the people he’s chosen to survive alongside; and this horrible accident occurs. The man feels responsible for what happens, and it's a glimpse into the Greene farm mindset on the zombie plague. Despite what appears to be a slight delusion about how the world will bounce back, in their ways the residents on the farm are the most human people we've met so far. They have hope." Ology writer Josh Harrison felt that, despite shooting Carl, Otis "is actually a stand-up dude [...] he knows a safe place where someone can try to save Carl's life". Harrison felt that Otis and the other new characters "are engaging characters in their own right". Zack Handlen from The A.V. Club felt that Otis was "a great addition", and that "it was smart to have the Carl shooting be a complete accident, and one that didn't have anything to do with Otis being an idiot or a jerk. He couldn't see Carl, and how the hell was he supposed to know there'd be non-zombies in the woods?"
"Save the Last One" marked the final appearance of Pruitt Taylor Vince, whose character Otis was killed off in the episode after Shane shoots him; this subsequently marks a turning point for him as a false protagonist. Kirkman expressed that the death of Otis was a "somewhat justifiable homicide", and retorted that "Otis was slowing him down, and Carl's life hangs in the balance." He continued: "It's [The Walking Dead] and we're existing in that gray area and we're really pushing the boundaries of that. But at the end of the day, Shane shot that guy and left him for dead and ran off. It's a pretty dark moment and it informs Shane's character and sets up a lot of things that are going to be happening moving forward."
Nate Rawlings of Time felt that the execution of Otis was a dark moment for the series, and felt that it added anticipation to future development. He wrote: "At some point, Shane will have to come clean with Rick about what happened to Otis. Given Rick's extremely rigid morale [sic] code and Shane's now demonstrated willingness to do whatever it takes to survive, the showdown promises to be bigger than just a battle of two alpha males. The Rick/Shane divide is a battle of two leaders with different ideas of humanity and survival." Zack Handlen appreciated the character development of Shane, writing, "It's not the subtlest moment [...] but, given how friendly and cool Otis was, and given how well the two seemed to be working together, it's a strong twist." He added that because of the death of Otis, the show now has a sense of direction. "His decision to sacrifice Otis is easy enough to rationalize; somebody had to get back for Carl's sake, Shane was faster, and both of them probably weren't going to make it. That's the beauty of it. In a certain light, he made the right choice."
John Serba of The Grand Rapids Press felt that Shane "exacted some Biblical justice on Otis: he shot Carl, therefore he must atone for his mistake, and die to save the kid." HitFix's Alan Sepinwall felt that "it was clear from the moment Shane came back alone - without us seeing what happened - that he had in some way sacrificed Otis to save himself". Sepinwall called it "a calculated choice, but one born of animal survival instinct. For all that Shane feels guilty about what he's done, and for all that he tells Otis to go on without him, he ultimately wants to live more than anything else, and as a result sentences a good man to a fate worse than death. (He doesn't even shoot Otis in the head, which might have been more humane but also might have sicc'ed more of the zombies onto him, as they seem to enjoy preying on still living flesh.)" The Baltimore Sun journalist Andrew Conrad commended that Shane "took a serious heel turn, capping poor, fat Otis and letting him get devoured by walkers. Not cool, bro, not cool at all." Conrad said he couldn't figure out "why exactly Shane did Otis like that, other than that Otis was slowing them down. Or maybe it was a strategic move, using Otis like a big pile of hot dogs to distract the zombies". Mark Maurer of The Star-Ledger noted: "In the comic, Carl shoots Shane in the neck, and by the 15th issue, Shane is a full-blown zombie. On the other hand, Otis appears in a span of nearly 30 issues. I suppose character actor Pruitt Taylor Vince had other commitments."
- Shane's actor talks
- Hanh, Nguyen (June 21, 2011). "Fresh Meat! Walking Dead Casts Season 2's Otis". TV Guide. ISSN 0039-8543. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
- West, Steve (October 23, 2011). "The Walking Dead Watch: Episode 2 – Bloodletting". Cinema Blend. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
- Harrison, Josh (October 23, 2011). "'The Walking Dead' Recap: "Bloodletting"". Ology. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
- Handlen, Zack (October 23, 2011). "Bloodletting". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
- Collis, Clark (October 24, 2011). "'Walking Dead' writer Robert Kirkman talks about tonight's episode and THAT shocking death: 'It was a somewhat justifiable homicide'". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- Rawlings, Nate (October 31, 2011). "Walking Dead Recap: Save the Last One". Time. Time Inc. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- Handlen, Zack (October 30, 2011). "Save the Last One". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- Serba, John (November 1, 2011). "'Walking Dead' postmortem: 'Save the Last One' veers from one extreme to another". The Grand Rapids Press. Dan Gaydou. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- Sepinwall, Alan (October 31, 2011). "Review: 'The Walking Dead' - 'Save the Last One': Lori's choice". HitFix. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- Conrad, Andrew (October 30, 2011). "'The Walking Dead' recap: Episode 203, 'Save the Last One'". The Baltimore Sun. Tribune Company. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- Maurer, Mark (October 30, 2011). "'The Walking Dead' recap, 'Save the Last One': In the midnight hour". The Star-Ledger. Advance Publications. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
- Talking Dead, November 28, 2011 - Robert Kirkman explains that this was filmed as a flashback and may be included on the blu-ray or shown in a later episode.