WARNING: Spoilers everywhere.
The fifth season of The Walking Dead wrapped up last night with surprisingly little bloodshed and a record number major characters -- 18 of them, in fact -- surviving to head in to the next season.
Curious how this number compared with previous seasons, I plotted the first appearances and deaths of every major character from the first episode to the last. For the purposes of this chart, a major character is one who survives a significant number of episodes and who, crucially, is at some point part of Rick Grimes' group of survivors.
There are a few edge cases: a number of characters were introduced late this season and played major-ish roles, so I'll assume they'll be around in season 6. Morgan Jones gets a pass despite appearing in only a couple episodes, since he's made it all the way through since Season 1. I omit major antagonists, like the Governor and his posse, who weren't ever part of Rick's group. They're all dead anyway.
I realize these distinctions are somewhat arbitrary, but look: my chart, my rules.
Just under half of the survivors who made it through Season 1 are still alive today. Conversely, the current group of survivors is mostly made up of characters introduced in later seasons. Women make up half of the current survivors, which is not surprising given that the show has been praised for maintaining a roster of strong female leads.
The series also boasts one of the more diverse casts in a major network drama. At the end of Season 5, one third of the characters are non-white. But some viewers have wondered whether the show has a "quota" for black characters.
However, mortality rates for white and non-white characters are identical in the show's world: 8 of the 20 white characters in the chart above have been killed off, compared to 4 of the 10 non-whites. But among the 6 major black men introduced on The Walking Dead, 4 are now dead. Three of them were killed off this season.