Boob(s On Your) Tube: The Walking Dead’s Denise Cloyd Is Dead Lesbian #147

This has been the most emotionally exhausting year of TV I can ever remember, and I’ve been writing about dead fictional lesbians since 2008. In three months, we’ve lost Rose from Jane the Virgin, Lexa from The 100, Zora from The Shannara Chronciles, Carla from Code Black, Julie from The Expanse, Kira from The Magicians, and now Denise from The Walking Dead. Most of those were guest characters, but Denise and Lexa had just professed their feelings to their lovers! They were going to stick around, and be happy!


I’ll talk more about this in tomorrow’s Pop Culture Fix, but Lexa’s death in particular is getting a lot of mainstream media traction, in a way that makes me hopeful we’ll finally see some change. For our part, in addition to Riese’s running list of dead lesbian and bisexual characters and my tiny-by-comparison list of lesbian and bisexual characters who got happy endings (which I am still updating), we’re working on some analysis of queer TV like you’ve never seen before. Rachel, Riese and I have spent a lot of hours combing through the full archives of gay people on television and we’ll have some stuff to show you really soon.

In the meantime, I need Luisa and Susanna to come back to Jane the Virgin and start making out immediately.

The Walking Dead

Sundays on AMC at 10:00 p.m.

Written by Stef


I’m not going to make you look at a photo of Denise with an arrow poking through her eyeball.

Last time we saw Denise and Tara together, Tara was going on a two-week run with Heath and asked Denise if she’d like to come along. Denise said she wanted to, but she really couldn’t – as Alexandria’s only doctor, she really needed to stay close to home. Tara told Denise she loved her, and Denise said she’d return the favor when Tara got home.

Later, I read that the actress who plays Tara is actually super pregnant, and I rejoiced a little bit because that means that Tara will probably be on this run for a while and if Denise is safe in Alexandria, maybe those two will survive the season and love isn’t a lie after all!

Well fuck everything.

Denise tells Daryl and Rosita that she remembers an apothecary way over yonder that might have medications Alexandria could use, and she solicits the two of them to come check it out with her. On the way, she’s cloyingly earnest, oversharing about her family and making a lot of wince-inducing decisions that showcase exactly how inexperienced she is in the post-zombie apocalypse world. Daryl and Rosita don’t seem all that charmed by it, and in fact they appear openly irritated with her. They don’t have much use for a traveling companion who isn’t on their level, and they don’t sugarcoat that fact.

After the team successfully raid the apothecary’s pharmacy and are on the way back, Daryl and Rosita loosen up a little bit, and explain to Denise that they could tell she wasn’t ready to be outside the walls. Denise stupidly tries to break into a car with a walker in it to see what’s in the cooler sitting in the passenger seat; Daryl and Rosita’s frustration is palpable as they rush over to try to save her, but surprise – Denise takes out the walker herself. The cooler turns out to have a single can of the kind of soda she’d been trying to locate for Tara in it. “Hot damn,” she says. She’s actually a little bit pleased with herself.

Rosita and Daryl try to tell her how fucking stupid that stunt was, and Denise rallies back by telling them how pretty much every brave thing they have to do to survive these days is pretty stupid. She explains her reasons for bringing them along, and just as she’s in the middle of explaining what wonderful people Daryl and Rosita are, a fucking arrow flies out of nowhere and hits her in the back of her skull, poking through her eye. It’s fucking Dwight, with Daryl’s stolen crossbow, and he only hit Denise because he still doesn’t know how to use the crossbow properly and his aim isn’t great. GREAT.

Denise Cloyd, dead lesbian #147 on television.

Fuck you too, Walking Dead.

It’s a good thing Maggie and Glenn found out about the OB-GYN over at Hilltop the other week, cos it looks like Alexandria is fresh out of doctors. In the meantime, Tara’s out there with Heath somewhere with no idea that her adorable girlfriend is dead. I hope there are more queer women alive on Earth for Tara to find someday (in time, when she’s ready to love again), because the alternative is that Tara is going to die pretty soon and I don’t think I can handle all these straight people by myself.


Sundays on HBO at 10:00 p.m.


Like why would I date a Jedi Knight when emo Sith Lords are so much more authentic?

I stopped watching Girls when Adam was fucking a girl in the second season finale and he didn’t stop when she told him to stop. I’m uninterested in joining the bonfire of thinkpieces on Lena Dunham, and, in fact, I regret everything I have ever publicly said about this show and Dunham herself. But Hannah slept with another woman this week, so I queued it up on HBO Go and here we are.

It happens, like it always does, when Hannah’s mom convinces her to spend a weekend away at a women’s retreat. She’s struggling because she wants to break up with her super nice guy boyfriend and she’s looking for some clarity. Hannah’s mom suggests maybe she can’t accept other people’s kindness because she and Hannah’s dad were passive-aggressively horrible to each other and to her for her whole life. It’s a thing Hannah rejects, but I mean, she’s Hannah. Her next-level narcissism won’t let her pass up a very easy blame-game scenario. Maybe it is her parents’ fault she always gets in messed up relationships.

It’s the yoga instructor at the retreat who entices Hannah inter her first queer foray. Hannah protests at first, when the instructor kisses her. “You know, I’ve actually never had sex with a woman before. I mean, I’ve done other stuff. I went to Oberlin so I’m not, like, a monster. But my dad’s gay so there might be a genetic —” Next thing you know Hannah’s head is between her legs in the sauna and the yoga instructor only needs thirty seconds to finish. It’s too hot for Hannah, though, and she can’t breathe. Despite her protests, the yoga instructor tries to force her head down, but Hannah extricates herself and leaves, disgusted.

“Fuck nice. Nice is a mask angry people wear to hide their inner assholes,” is the thing the yoga instructor says to seduce Hannah in the first place. Because I can’t even get a goddamn random lesbian hookup this year without the having to witness some kind of nihilistic bullshit and another exploration about the grey ares of consent as punishment.

Even The Fosters killed a gay kid this week! But you’ll find that information in my recap later this afternoon.

On Friday, we’ll check in with all the shows that have smaller lesbian/bi things happening, and Karly will be back to cover Lexa’s funeral. You bring the tissues, I’ll bring the booze.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Super happy to read that y’all are doing some heavy analysis of queer people on TV. Your list of dead lesbians/bi women, along with the happy endings list, has been CRUCIAL in making this argument hit hard.

    I’m not sure any of this will sink in to the mainstream, but I feel like this is a turning point for fans. People are fed up, and your hard work in compiling this information is a huge part in the movement that’s brewing.

    That’s actually why I became a subscriber today. Thanks for all you do.

    • Lisa, thank you so much! Your support gives us the ability to do this work we care about so much! I look forward to reading your thoughts on our final products.

    • yay on becoming a subscriber!

      Now you can go treat yourself to Heather’s A+ article on cats and Crystal’s The Cheesecake Diaries. :)

  2. “In three months, we’ve lost Rose from Jane the Virgin, Lexa from The 100, Zora from The Shannara Chronciles, Carla from Code Black, Julie from The Expanse, Kira from The Magicians, and now Denise from The Walking Dead.”

    This seems like something that should be shouted from the rooftops (or twitter) for all to hear, with an addition of “people, we aren’t making this shit up!”

  3. I’m just so exhausted from TV this year…

    I want to keep watching The 100, but I’m pretty sure the episode on the 31st is actually going to destroy me.

  4. I need your recap of The Fosters like never before!! I just finished watching this week’s ep and I am so sad.

  5. “…but Lexa’s death in particular is getting a lot of mainstream media traction, in a way that makes me hopeful will finally see some change.”

    I just hope that nobody keeps using the excuse “bury your gays? I didn’t know that was a thing.” Because, people, evidence is smashing your head over and over again.

  6. Sidebar, but I LOVE the actress who played Denise on the Walking Dead. She was also in New Girl and was super amazing. I really hope we get to see more of her in the future.

  7. Prayer circle for Luisa and Susanna on Jane the Virgin. Didn’t watch last night’s ep, but I’m assuming that neither character was on. Stay safe in off-screen rehab, Luisa!

    • I guess getting turned and then killed by Michonne would have been much better? Which is how Denise dies in the comic.

      • My question is why can’t Michonne be the lesbian???!!!! She is so, so hot. I never bought her hetero backstory.

  8. I love Girls and I only opened this up because I saw that it was about Girls! I would love to have a conversation with another QWOC about Girls, or a conversation about why it’s probably easier for me to identify with some of the characters than it would be for a queer white woman to and why that’s messed up, but I can’t lol. I don’t have anybody to talk about it with! So I’ll just comment here that I’ve watched Girls from the beginning and I think they’ve developed Hannah’s character in such a way that it made sense for her to have that experience, when she did. I thought it was really well done and I hope the show explores ideas around sexuality and fluidity or the idea that experimentation doesn’t necessarily mean fluidity, after this. And I hope Hannah is able to process ideas around consent with the other *Girls* after this. It would be great if the show could explore how much consent impacts how we experience our sexuality, sex lives, attraction, and gendered preferences. But if they don’t, I’ll still keep watching. Thanks for this.

    • @melanielaura (does this actually notify the person or?) i too have watched since the beginning…i totally don’t like lena dunham as a human being at all so i stream so as not to be counted in viewership(idk if that makes a difference or whatever)ANYWAY i’m kinda digging this season&would be into chatting with you about it!

    • Hi Melanie, I love Girls too! I thoroughly enjoy how fucked up everyone is. It’s one of the only shows I’ve ever seen where the female and male characters behave equally badly, and where you don’t feel like you’re being hit over the head with a moral of the story after each episode. It’s really rare to see female characters in a comedy get to be as complex as the ones in Girls are.

  9. Speaking of pop culture fix tomorrow and not-dead lesbians, can we talk about Alice Isn’t Dead? Bc it’s what i’ve spent my afternoon listening to and tbh i think the combo of queer trucker wives/odd horror/jasika nicole is relevant to everyone’s interests.

      • I would be interested in seeing more coverage of it as well. Though I get that with only two very short episodes (both of which seemed to be more music and ads than story) there’s not much to say yet.

        Jasika is wonderful and I’m interested, but I do see the point of those who say that the writing is a little too similar to Welcome to Night Vale and doesn’t show very much range. I also am a little worried that the weirdness of the week is going to overshadow the plot about the relationship between the narrator and her wife Alice, which I’m more interested in.

        What do you think.

  10. Was Julie in the Expanse queer? I watched the first season and read the first book, and I don’t remember it mentioned. (Although if it’s true, that’s cool.) No spoilers, but if season 2 follows the book, we should see more Julie references…

    • Someone paused on an info screen they show for her during one episode, zoomed into her stats, and found part or it states, “orientation: pan”.

      Considering that you both have to hold a magnifying glass to the info to even find it and that you could also literally blink and miss it, I really, really, can’t count this as representation at all and have to question if this was actually some production goof.

      (Someone who’s read more of the books can chime in if this is ever mentioned there? I’ve only watched the show.)

  11. I’ve been on the fence about subscribing for a while, but all the recent hard work you guys are putting in about visibility in the media put me over the line. I’ve been a huge fan of Heather Hogan for years (in fact, I have a hard time reading anything on AfterEllen after her departure) and I’m really looking forward to seeing what she and the rest of the Straddlers have for us in the future. Thanks!

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