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Steven Yeun Discusses What ‘The Walking Dead’ Learned from the Infamous Dumpster Controversy

For six full seasons, Steven Yeun flawlessly played the character of Glenn Rhee on The Walking Dead.  Glenn was definitely a fan favorite which made the brutal demise of the character in the premiere episode of season 7 so intense and heartbreaking.  Before the show broke our hearts, it messed with our minds during what’s now known as the infamous dumpster controversy.

In season 6, episode 3, the episode title ‘Thank You’ completely and totally turned our Walking Dead world upside down.  As Glenn (Yeun) and Nicholas (played brilliantly by Michael Traynor) desperately tried to outrun a heard of walkers, they found themselves trapped and completely surrounded by the herd.  The only place they could find refuge was on top of a dumpster at the end of a fenced off alley.  Nicholas, who was unable to handle the pressure of the new post apocalyptic world, opted to take his life, right then, on top of that dumpster.  As he fell into the herd of walkers, he knocked over Glenn and took him down into the herd as well.  Fans collectively screamed with fear that their favorite character was totally doomed.

It wasn’t until 4 episodes later that we found out Glenn’s fate.  The series had even removed Yeun’s name from the opening credits, completely and totally throwing fans for a loop.  During his panel at Walker Stalker Con Nashville, Yeun spoke with fans about that dumpster scene and discussed the fact that The Walking Dead and, perhaps, television series in general, learned a lot from those episodes and that particular season.  Yeun said:

“You know what, man, that I think is a testament of where we are in technology and media and Internet that I think wasn’t tested truly until that moment.  I think the intentions were not to deceive but the intentions were to make a fun plot.  What happens is the Internet, spoiler sites, people camping out, which are all good indicators of the success of your show so I don’t want to admonish that, but at the same time you look at it and you’re like, ‘I don’t think any show had to deal with it until that point.’ Now, you look at how shows deal with stuff moving forward and its’ completely changed because people freaked out about it. It sucks that it had to be a case study but it was a case study.”

So, that dumpster scene may have changed the way that the show and other series operate going forward but, one thing’s for sure, it’s certainly changed things for Yeun going forward.  He joked saying that moment will probably be something he will never live down, for the rest of his life:

“I will probably forever get dumpster jokes for the rest of my life. My kid will ask me, ‘Why?’ and I will say, ‘I have no idea.'”

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Denise Caputo

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A self-proclaimed nerd, karaoke junkie, craft beer enthusiast and lover of all things pop culture, Denise enjoys all facets of entertainment from Broadway to box office blockbusters. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, concerts (lots and lots of concerts), volunteering, reading and playing with her rescue kitten, Samantha (who rescued who, right?). Denise currently resides in Long Island, New York and is honored to be a part of the Fan Fest News team!