This The Walking Dead article contains spoilers.
Near the end of The Walking Dead season 10 episode 14 “Look at the Flowers,” Eugene, Yumiko, and Ezekiel come across a hilarious and macabre display of walkers going about mundane day to day life in a sizable American city. One walker wears a silly beatnik hat and (fittingly) sits in a walking chair. Two others have a deathly tea party indoors, secured to a table and waving their empty martini glasses around. Finally, the sight of a zombie receiving a parking ticket from another is enough to launch Ezekiel into deranged hysterics.
The sound of Ezekiel’s laughter attracts the human architect of all these bizarre undead tableaus. A young woman appears in the street with a machine gun, goggles, pink hair, and an even pinker feather boa.
“Oh my God! Hiiiii!” she excitedly wails.
Congratulations, Walking Dead TV viewers. You’ve just met Juanita Sanchez a.k.a. “Princess.” Princess is played by Paolo Lazaro in the TV series and the character has a multi-issue history in the comics. Here is everything you need to know about The Walking Dead’s latest and most unusual addition.
Though the pages of The Walking Dead comic book are printed in black and white, Princess is one of its most colorful characters. Princess is first introduced in Issue 171 during the “Lines We Cross” arc. She remains a central figure in the series for 22 more issues, all the way through the comic’s series finale in issue 193. Princess’s introduction in the show hews closely to her introduction in the comics as well, as does her excitable personality.
Just like in the show, a band of characters gathers together in the comic to meet with Stephanie’s community. The full team consists of Eugene, Yumiko, Magna, Michonne, and Siddiq. This five-some is en route from Alexandria, Virginia to somewhere in Ohio. It’s when they make a pit stop in Pittsburgh that they first come across “The Princess of Pittsburgh” Juanita Sanchez. Pittsburgh obviously has an important history with the undead thanks to George Romero, which is why Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman chose to introduce it in the series. In the show, however, Eugene, Yumiko, and Ezekiel are en route to Charleston, West Virginia and the skyline is clearly not Pittsburgh. The best we can tell based on the crumbling buildings and the group’s route is that this version of Princess calls Charlottesville, Virginia home.
Princess’s defining character trait early on is how lonely she has been. She tells her new friends that they are the first human beings she has seen in over a year. Mostly she’s been biding her time in Pittsburgh (or Charlottesville), killing walkers and talking to herself. Her enthusiasm at having company is very, very apparent — as is her inability to repress that excitement. As evidenced by her cheerful greeting in the show, Princess is irrepressibly optimistic and so…darn…chatty. Her speech balloons dominate just about every panel of the comic she appears in. It’s hard to tell how much of Princess’ personality is informed by her long isolation and how much is simply her being herself. Prior to the apocalypse, she worked service jobs at a coffee shop and a record store. She also eventually reveals that she had a troubled childhood and was abused by her stepfather and stepbrother.
Though Michonne and company are at first understandably cautious of (and frequently annoyed by) Princess, her prowess with that machine gun and later a spear convinces them to let her join their team and accompany them to Ohio and the Commonwealth.
So what does Princess get up to after joining the crew? Not much, honestly! For starters, as established earlier, there isn’t much plot left for her to partake in by the time she arrives. Princess is undoubtedly intended to be a major character in the story but the series concludes only a few volumes after her introduction. She does indeed make it to The Commonwealth along with Eugene and company and there she proves herself once again to be a ferocious fighter. Later Princess arrives at Alexandria to become an Alexandrian citizen and meets a Rick Grimes who is quite bemused by her enthusiasm. She also meets a Commonwealth soldier named Mercer and the pair fall in love. When the comic’s final issue flashes forward to the future, Mercer and Princess are still together.
Princess is not much of an active participant in the series’ endgame. And that’s okay. Juanita Sanchez serves an entirely different role in The Walking Dead universe. Comics, like television, are primarily a visual medium and Princess is nothing if not visually interesting. Her eccentric appearance and talkative nature provide some much-needed energy in the lives of these main characters who have already suffered through so much.
Things are about to get pretty grim on The Walking Dead thanks to the encroaching Whisperer War and Beta’s remaining horde of walkers. As the show endures all the violence and then transitions into the next adventure, it should be helpful to have someone like Princess. You know, someone whose first inclination upon meeting potential threats is to say “Oh my God! Hiiiii!”