|The Walking Dead character|
|First appearance||Issue #2 (comics)
"Tell It to the Frogs" (TV series)
|Last appearance||"What Lies Ahead" (TV series) (Alive)
"Pretty Much Dead Already" (TV series) (Undead)
"Nebraska" (TV series) (Corpse)
|Created by||Robert Kirkman
|Portrayed by||Madison Lintz|
|Occupation||Assumed grade school student|
|Significant other(s)||Carl Grimes (comics)|
Sophia or Sophia Peletier is a fictional character from the comic series The Walking Dead and is portrayed by Madison Lintz in the television series of the same name. She is the daughter of Carol Peletier, who is fiercely protective of her, as is Carl Grimes, with whom she becomes close friends during the zombie outbreak. She becomes a major focal point in both media, despite her limited involvement in many of the central conflicts faced by the other characters.
Comic book series
Sophia is introduced in issue #2 at the initial camp established by survivors of the outbreak on the outskirts of the city of Atlanta, now overrun by walkers. She is seen playing with Carl Grimes and a pair of twins named Billy and Ben, and witnesses Carl and his mother Lori reunite with his father, Rick. With the group under Rick's guidance following Shane Walsh's death, they arrive at an abandoned, gated community named Wiltshire Estates. The group begins to settle there, and Sophia, her mother Carol, and the rest of the group briefly enjoy living in houses and sleeping in beds (as opposed to Dale Horvath's crowded RV in which the group had spent the entire winter). However, the group soon discovers that, upon closer examination, the area is actually itself overrun; the death of Ben and Billy's mother Donna occurs as a result. They are briefly welcomed on to the farm of Hershel Greene, after Carl is shot by his neighbor Otis and taken there to be operated on. Following Carl's recovery, the group leaves Hershel's property and again presses their luck on the road.
After spending a good deal of time traveling, the group comes upon an abandoned prison, which they clear of walkers and subsequently settle into. Sophia moved into a cell with Carol and her lover Tyreese, whom the group had rescued a while before discovering Wiltshire Estates. One day, while Sophia is playing cards with Carl, she asks him a question about his card and then if he would like to be her boyfriend. He rejects her offer, and the two continue on playing. When a newcomer named Michonne arrives at the prison, she begins to develop feelings for Tyreese, which Carol notices with great discomfort. Soon, they engage in sexual intercourse, as Carol sadly discovers from a distance. Because of this, Sophia receives very little attention from her mother, and is subsequently traumatized when she attempts suicide directly in front of her.
Carol's downward spiral ultimately reaches a breaking point, which causes her to attempt suicide once again. She approaches and begins talking to a walker another newcomer named Alice had been using for research, and then steps closer and allows it to bite her. She is put down by Andrea, and later buried in the prison-yard, where Sophia mourns her mother's loss. Sophia remains in a catatonic state for a long time afterwards. As life becomes increasingly dangerous for the group, Andrea and Dale break away from the group, taking Sophia, Ben, Billy, Hershel's daughter Maggie and Glenn along with them. Following this decision, a rival community named Woodbury, which wants to take the prison for themselves, storms an attack on the group and successfully kills everyone except Rick, Carl and Michonne. The three of them return to Hershel's farm to discover the rest of the group living there. While reunited, Sophia refers to Maggie as her "mother" to Carl, much to his confusion.
A group of survivors soon shows up on the farm, one of them claiming to be a scientist who knows how he can stop the outbreak and is on his way to Washington, D.C. to develop the cure. This sends the group on the road again. On the way, the scientist, Eugine, is revealed to have been lying about knowing a cure (having only made it up so that he would be protected). They are met by a man named Aaron, who claims he can take them to a safe community in Alexandria, nearby Washington, D.C. Rick trusts him, and soon they are all allowed to live in the Alexandria Safe-Zone. Sophia shares a house with Glenn, Maggie and Andrea. She adjusts well to her new environment, and even participates in a Halloween event put on by the community's leader, Douglas Monroe. During this time she also begins to call Glenn her father; however, when she overcomes her fears established by the world outside, she admits to him and Maggie that she knows they aren't her real parents, and also begins to acknowledge Carol's previous existence.
After a man who calls himself "Jesus" arrives and proposes organizing a trade with the Alexandria Safe-Zone with his thriving community on a hilltop, the group heads up there, only to be stopped by a group of hostile people who refer to themselves as "The Saviors" and their leader, Negan. Since Rick's group had killed so many of his men (albeit, in self-defense), Negan demands a sacrifice of one of their people. He ultimately chooses Glenn, and brutally beats him to death with his baseball bat which he calls "Lucille". He tells them they have one week to give him half their supplies or risk repeating the tragedy that has just unfolded. Devastated, Maggie repeatedly punches Rick in the face for not doing anything; this prompts Carl to point his gun at her so she would stop, which in turn caused Sophia to lash out at him and bite his arm. Carl walks up to Sophia later on, and apologizes for her "dad's" death. She begins to believe it is somehow her fault that everyone in her family dies, but Carl assures her that that's "just the way it is" now.
Glenn's body is buried at the Hilltop Colony, where he and Maggie had previously discussed moving to with Sophia and their soon-to-be-born child. Sophia gives Carl a tearful goodbye and hugs him, and she and Maggie ultimately do move to the Hilltop Colony while the others return to the Alexandria Safe-Zone. She later expresses displeasure with the idea of remaining at the Hilltop Colony long-term to Maggie; however, this seems to change after she befriends the (currently unnamed) son of Hilltop resident Brianna (a new friend of Maggie's).
Some time later, Maggie becomes the de facto leader of the Hilltop Colony (having apparently overthrown the previous leader, Gregory). She brings the majority of the people from the Hilltop to Alexandria, including many children (Sophia being among them), only to learn that much of Alexandria has been destroyed in an attack by the Saviors.
Sophia is still alive and well to date at the Hilltop Colony, and is one of the few remaining Atlanta survivors, alongside Rick, Carl and Andrea. She is also currently the longest-living female character in the comic series (having been officially introduced one page before Andrea).
Sophia Peletier, along with her mother Carol and her father Ed, are staying at the camp formed by a relatively large group of survivors outside of Atlanta. As it was revealed in a flashback in the season two episode "Chupacabra", Ed brought Carol and Sophia with him while moving toward a "safe zone" on the outskirts of the city. They meet up with Shane Walsh, Lori Grimes and her son Carl, whom Sophia quickly becomes close friends with. The six of them decide to make it together, and stumble upon the camp set up by Dale Horvath. She and Carl befriend two children named Louis and Eliza, the son and daughter of a man known as Morales and his wife Miranda. Sophia is first introduced in the season one episode "Tell It to the Frogs", where it is discovered that Ed demonstrates abusive tendencies towards Carol, slapping her across the face for not coming with him right away. For this he is beaten savagely by Shane, who promises to beat him to death if he lays his hand on Carol, Sophia or anyone else in the camp.
In the next episode, "Vatos", Ed's injuries are revealed to have confined him to his tent, and so during dinner he implored Sophia to stay with him and keep him company. However, Carol stood her ground, and said that Sophia wanted to join everyone else. Towards the end of the episode, a herd of walkers leads to the deaths of Ed and Amy, another survivor, and several unnamed people before all the walkers are killed. In the episode "Wildfire", Rick Grimes decides to lead the group away from the current site and travel to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) because of its assumed security and to possibly find a cure for Jim, a survivor who had been bitten when the camp was attacked. Morales announces that his family will be leaving the group to find family in Alabama. Sophia is saddened by Eliza's leaving, and Eliza gives Sophia her doll to remember her by. Sophia and Carol appear to have become more enthusiastic and open members of the group following Ed's death. They travel with the rest of the group to the CDC.
In the first season finale "TS-19", the sole remaining CDC worker Dr. Edwin Jenner reluctantly agrees to let them all in. While there, Sophia and the others are briefly introduced to the many luxuries the CDC has to offer, such as delicious food, hot showers and a recreation room full of games and toys she and Carl can play with. However, it is soon revealed that Jenner had locked them inside the CDC, which was going to self-destruct when a timer ran out. Sophia immediately begins to cry, and Carol pleads with Jenner to let them all go, saying that Sophia doesn't deserve to die in such a manner. After pleas from all of the group (minus two survivors, Jacqui, and Amy's sister Andrea), he finally lets them go with just minutes to spare. Ultimately, Sophia, Carol and everyone except for Jacqui (who stayed behind with Jenner) make it out alive.
In the season two premier, "What Lies Ahead", the group is stopped on a vehicle-jammed highway, where they stop to loot abandoned cars for supplies and new clothes. In the process, a massive herd of walkers forces the group to take cover underneath the cars. Sophia is separated from Carol, and is discovered by two walkers. She runs away from them, with Eliza's doll in her arms. Rick runs after her and carries her to a safe spot in the nearby woods so he could go and kill the walkers. He does so successfully, but when he comes back, Sophia is nowhere to be found. Carol is beyond devastated, and Carl is very concerned as well. The group goes on a search for her, but find no trace of her. They come upon a church, and while there, Carol stops and prays to the figure of a crucified Jesus. She says that even though she prayed for Ed's death for abusing her and "looking" at Sophia, her punishment shouldn't be Sophia's death. This implies that Ed had a history of sexual temptations towards his daughter, and may have even acted upon them before.
Meanwhile, while off with Rick and Shane, Carl is injured while looking at a deer. In the next episode "Bloodletting", it was revealed that Carl was accidentally shot by a man named Otis on a hunting trip. In the episode "Save the Last One" the group keeps searching for Sophia, and in the episode "Cherokee Rose", Carl's injuries ultimately lead the whole group onto Hershel Greene's farm, where they settle. They continue the search for Sophia, but still nothing seems to turn up. In the episode "Chupacabra", the only thing that comes to light is Sophia's doll, which had been discovered by a member of the group named Daryl Dixon. Daryl goes on several searches for Sophia, being one of the most devoted members of the group in looking towards recovering her. He and Carol bond greatly because of his efforts. In the episode "Secrets", Shane and Andrea search for Sophia in a nearby settlement but do not find her.
In the episode "Pretty Much Dead Already", Glenn tells the group that he discovered that Hershel has been keeping a group of walkers, consisting largely of his family and neighbors, in his barn, as he had believed them to be sick but nonetheless curable patients. Shane goes against Rick's orders, opens the barn, and (along with the rest of the group) shoots all the walkers that stumble out. Just as things seem to be over and done with, one more walker stumbles out of the barn. It is sadly revealed that Sophia has been bitten, succumbed to the infection, and turned. (She had then been found by Otis, who put her zombified form in the barn before his death.) Carol runs to Sophia, but is stopped by Daryl. Carl also begins to cry, and has to be held back by Lori. The rest of the group watches in complete sadness as she stumbles closer. Knowing what must be done, Rick steps forward and aims his pistol at Sophia. He remorsefully pulls the trigger, putting her out of her misery. In the episode "Nebraska", she is buried in a funeral ceremony, alongside Hershel's second wife Annette and stepson Shawn (who were also kept in his barn as walkers). Carol does not attend the funeral because her daughter "died a long time ago".
It is noted, in Season 3, one of the last references to Sophia is made in the episode "Say the Word (The Walking Dead)" , at approx. 25 minutes into the episode, Daryl is drawn to a hand print on the wall of a nursery day care center, crayon colored and with the name Sophie. It is clear she is on his mind and is the first motivation to get baby formula for the groups newest member. It is also noted at this point the group believes Carol Peletier is also dead, the one person it is clear Daryl is closest to, and the final reason he insists on saving the baby with a needed supply run in an overrun area.
In Season 4, Sophia is mentioned in the episode "Indifference" during a conversation between Carol and Rick outside the prison, some time before Rick tells Carol that she was not returning with him. She is also mentioned in "Still" when Beth discusses with Daryl about Sophia coming out of the barn.
Development and reception
Gina McIntyre of the Los Angeles Times referred to the second season premiere "What Lies Ahead" as "thrilling" and "heart-wrenching", citing Sophia's disappearance and the shooting of Carl. Derek Boeckelmann of Daily Nexus commended the suspenseful sequences of the episode, stating that "the show wisely puts both Carl and Sophia, the youngest survivors, on the edge of peril many times" in the episode. Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club felt that Sophia's disappearance was contrived. Paste 's Josh Jackson felt that the side-plot of the continued hunt for Sophia takes a backseat to the events with Rick's family at the farmhouse in "Bloodletting". HitFix's Alan Sepinwall commented in his review of "Save the Last One" that with all the time spent lingering around that traffic jam and looking for Sophia, "the show and its characters seem to be heading nowhere fast". Mark Maurer of The Star-Ledger opined that the search for Sophia had gone on long enough, and that the next episode would be the appropriate time to bring her back. Nate Rawlings of Time commented on the situation with the still-lost Sophia that the show "really knows how to drag out a situation, doesn’t it?"
Time journalist Nate Rawlings complained in his review of "Cherokee Rose" that Sophia had been "missing for a month now in what has become an incredibly dragged out subplot". Andrew Conrad of The Baltimore Sun pondered: "And when are they going to wrap up this whole Sophia thing? I'm ready for them either to find her as a little zombie girl and do the thing that must be done, have a joyous reunion, or just let that whole subplot die. But please, stop dragging it out!" Zach Handlen of The A.V. Club commented on Sophia's predicament: "At this point, her being gone has turned into one of those jokes that goes on so long that it stops being funny, then keeps going, and at some point may actually start being funny--or interesting--again." Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly commented that if Sophia turns out to be a zombie, "we're all going to laugh, and laugh, and cry, and laugh". Nick Venable of Cinema Blend found himself "aghast" that the plotline regarding the search for Sophia was still considered worthy of returning to: "What little sympathy I had for Carol’s character has been replaced with an eternal yawn. If Sophia returns in a way that resembles anything normal without fanfare, I’m seeking out a real little girl named Sophia, and I’m going to punch her in the face."
Despite being initially surprised about her character's being killed off in "Pretty Much Dead Already", actress Madison Lintz concluded that she understood its aftermath for the show. Lintz affirmed that portraying a walker was a welcoming experience for her, and stated that she was "going to look back on and say that was amazing." Lintz learned of Sophia's fate "about a month before we shot it, which was good, because sometimes they just let you find things out from reading the script, so that was fortunate. [Executive producer] Gale Ann Hurd actually called and told us. I was sad because I wouldn't be able to see everybody every day after that, but it turned out really well. I didn't really know it was going to be that big a deal, though." Robert Kirkman felt that killing Sophia would add more dimension to the show, as well as add more flexibility to its storyline progression. "When a good idea comes up, you have to go with it," he articulated. "Sophia is a character who is still alive in the comic book series and who has contributed quite a bit to the overall narrative and informed a lot of story lines for a lot of different characters. Having Carol [...] survive her daughter as opposed to the other way around as it is in the comics is going to lead to interesting but different stories."
Janet Turley of The Huffington Post asserted that the episode's concluding scene involving Sophia's death was "fiction not afraid to provoke", while Eric Goldman of IGN described it as an "absolutely horrific scenario". CNN's Henry Hanks opined that the sequence "left [them] with a final scene that we'll be talking about until then." New York 's Starlee Kine asserted that it contained cinematic qualities, and felt that the scene was "satisfying, sad, and fun". She wrote: "It was everything you've ever wanted this show to be. Zombies plus no dialogue, such a winning combination! And how great was it that Sophia was dead instead of impossibly alive somewhere, holed up with Merle or Morgan or those warmhearted gang members in Atlanta. And because she was granted more screen time than she ever was when she was alive, we were finally able to care about the loss of her short, young life." Jen Chaney of The Washington Post echoed synonymous sentiments; "Really, the final moments of the last episode before the AMC series' December/January hiatus played like a fireworks finale on the Fourth of July, assuming your Fourth of July celebrations typically involve zombies and a pile of corpses." Time journalist Nate Rawlings concluded that it was the perfect resolution for what he called "television's slowest subplot". Gina McIntyre of Los Angeles Times felt that the concluding sequence was the most eventful moment of the episode, and stated that it was difficult to watch.
Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly affirmed that the scene reestablished The Walking Dead to full form, as well as redeemed the season's "general gutlessness thus far." HitFix's Alan Sepinwall reflected similar thoughts, and observed that it was effective enough to keep the viewers chattering until the succeeding episode. Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club summated: "The Sophia reveal is a punch in the gut, because narrative fiction teaches us the longer someone stays missing, the better the chance they'll turn up alive; otherwise, where would the drama be? By using the little girl in this way, the show transforms what should've been anti-climax into a reinvention of an entire storyline. It's not enough to make the bad parts of the earlier episodes great, but it does show that the writers had more on their mind than stalling." Mark Maurer of The Star-Ledger felt that albeit predictable, the segment was "well executed". Josh Wigler of MTV said that the storyline ended in "a much darker way than anyone could have imagined."
Los Angeles Times ' Gina McIntyre notes in her review of "Nebraska" that the episode opens with "Rick and the others paralyzed by the realization that Sophia is not only beyond saving, but that she's been nearby the whole time". HitFix writer Alan Sepinwall describes how the opening scene, "picking up seconds after Rick put a bullet through the thing that used to be Sophia, was great: the emotion felt every bit as palpable as it was at the end of November". However, he stated that although the show made him "feel the weight of Sophia's loss in that moment where she walked out of the barn in November, once things went quieter, she went back to being a non-entity. (When Glen lamented that they had lost others, but, "This was Sophia," I wondered if perhaps he was speaking of an alternate version of the show where Carol and Sophia were the main characters and Carl was only relevant as Sophia's occasional playmate.)" The Atlantic 's Scott Meslow commented: "It's clear from "Nebraska" that The Walking Dead was banking on us caring about Sophia's death - a tall order, since she'd had nothing but quiet, unmemorable screen time before her disappearance, and kept our heroes from leaving the farm to do something more interesting after. But if the show's viewers aren't mourning Sophia's death, its characters are, with reactions ranging from striking (Daryl's impotent, barely contained rage) to melodramatic (Carol sobbing and ripping up Cherokee roses, in a none-too-subtle callback to an earlier episode)."
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