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Madison Clark
Fear the Walking Dead character
Kim Dickens as Madison Clark
First appearance "Pilot" (2015)
Last appearance "Close Your Eyes" (2018)
Created by Robert Kirkman
Dave Erickson
Portrayed by Kim Dickens
Spouse(s) Steven Clark
Nationality American

Madison Clark is a fictional character and the main protagonist for the first four seasons of the television series Fear the Walking Dead, portrayed by Kim Dickens, the character was created by Robert Kirkman and showrunner Dave Erickson. Clark is a former high school guidance counselor and is the mother to Nick and Alicia and the fiancée of Travis Manawa.

Character biography

Madison is described as intelligent and willful to the point she sometimes becomes forceful. She is quick to adapt to the new world. Highly domineering, Madison likes being in control of situations, and is prone to feeling tense during disagreements with others or in situations where she is largely powerless. Even though she usually maintains a stubborn demeanor, Madison often becomes afraid and uncertain when the people she cares about (especially her family) are in danger. She has shown to have a ruthlessly dark and uncaring side.

Season 1

After Nick awakens in a heroin den in an abandoned church, he is hit by a car and hospitalized. The doctor tells Madison and Travis that Nick's claims about the incident are drug-induced hallucinations. Nick later escapes from the hospital and meets with Calvin, hoping to learn if the drugs Calvin sold him caused him to hallucinate in the church. Calvin tries to kill Nick to prevent him from exposing Calvin as a drug dealer or impugning the quality of his drugs. In the ensuing struggle, Calvin is mortally shot. After Travis and Madison arrive, the zombified Calvin attacks them. Nick runs over Calvin repeatedly with Travis' truck, and the three watch in disbelief as the mutilated Calvin is still able to turn his head towards them.

After the run-in with zombified Calvin, Nick, Madison, and Travis choose to flee to the desert, and they want Alicia, Liza, and Chris to follow. The group returns to Madison's home to gather supplies. Nick suffers from heroin withdrawal, so Madison drives to her school to get him Oxycodone. There, she encounters Tobias scavenging food. A zombified Artie tries to bite Tobias, so Madison kills Artie and drives Tobias home. Travis later tells Madison to take the kids to the desert without him; he will catch up. Alicia witnesses her zombified neighbor, Mr. Dawson, attacking Mrs. Cruz across the street, but Madison prevents her from intervening.

While a riot rages outside, a mob sets fire to the store adjoining the barbershop, forcing the Salazars and Manawas to flee. The group reaches Travis' truck and escapes, but not before Griselda is injured by a collapsing scaffold. Unable to reach a hospital, the group drives to Madison's house, where Nick, Madison, and Alicia temporarily flee when the zombified Mr. Dawson attempts to enter, attracted by the barking dog Nick had let in. Nick leads Madison and Alicia to the Trans' house next door, where they take a shotgun. Travis arrives and is attacked by Mr. Dawson, who is shot and killed by Daniel. All three families decide to stay the night and evacuate in the morning. The next morning, as the Clarks and Manawas start driving away, the National Guard arrives and quarantines the block. While Travis says, "It's going to get better," Daniel laments that it's, "too late," as he watches a guardsman mark the neighboring house.

Madison later discovers Daniel detaining Adams in the Trans' basement. Alicia and Chris get drunk in and vandalize the abandoned home of a wealthy family. Strand recruits Nick for an escape plot. Travis convinces Moyers' squad to take him to the hospital to check on his friends. While en route, Moyers encourages Travis to shoot a zombie, but Travis is emotionally unable to pull the trigger. The soldiers stop to assist another squad in a building infested by zombies, and most of those soldiers, including Moyers, are overcome.

Travis, Madison, Daniel, and Ofelia go inside the National Guard's headquarters to rescue Liza, Griselda, and Nick, while Alicia and Chris stay behind. Meanwhile, the walkers breach the perimeter defenses and swarm the base. Travis' group reach the holding cells and set the detainees free before reuniting with Nick, Liza, and Strand. They try to escape through the medical ward, where they discover Dr. Exner has euthanized all of the patients. Dr. Exner tells them of an escape route before presumably committing suicide. Before they can escape, the group encounters Adams, who shoots Ofelia in the arm. Enraged, Travis brutally beats Adams and leaves him for dead. Strand leads the group to his oceanside mansion, where he reveals to Nick that he owns a yacht which he plans to escape on, called the Abigail. On the beach, Liza reveals to Madison that she had been bitten during the escape. Liza pleads with Madison and Travis to euthanize her before she turns. Travis promises to protect Chris before shooting Liza.

Season 2

The group evacuates to the Abigail as the military bombs Los Angeles, in an attempt to contain the outbreak. Out at sea, the group comes across another boat full of survivors, but Strand refuses to pick them up. Strand informs the group they are heading to San Diego.

The group docks on a nearby island to escape pursuit of the unknown ship. They soon have to leave because George poisoned his entire family as part of a suicide pact, and the group are forced to leave the remains of George's family behind on the island.

The group later plans to use the hostage as bait to get back Travis and Alicia. Alicia attempts to befriend Jack and find her way home on her own, while Travis is locked in a cell. Chris is left to watch over the hostage and he ends up shooting him in the face, killing him. He tells Madison the boy was turning, but she is worried that he is becoming unhinged. Travis sees Alex with Jack's group, and she admits to him that she gave up information on them when she was found. Madison is able to obtain Travis' release, by trading him for the now turned brother of the leader, and they escape in the mayhem. Alicia breaks free from Jack, and goes with Travis and Madison back to the yacht. While walking to the compound, the group is attacked by the dead and Madison is knocked to the ground while Chris stands by watching, which Alicia sees, before killing Madison's attacker. The group arrives at the compound, and are greeted by Luis' mother Celia who tells them they can stay but must leave their weapons outside. Alicia tells Chris what she saw regarding Madison's attack. Nick and Celia form a bond and she talks to him about her view of the dead and says it is just a new beginning, not the end. Madison, now aware of what Chris did, tells Travis she thinks he isn't well. They argue about her inability to want to help Chris, when Travis was always willing to help Nick. Daniel discovers that Celia is keeping the compound's dead family members in the cellar. Madison decides to sleep with Alicia that night to provide comfort and they are woken by a gunshot to find Chris standing over them, holding a knife and they chase him from the room. Chris has run off and Travis goes off after him. Nick brings Celia's walker son Luis to her and because of this, she lets the group stay, but Strand must leave. Madison talks to Nick about his fascination with the dead and is frustrated by his feelings for Celia. Nick goes to find Travis and Chris, but when he finds them, Travis says he and Chris aren't coming back and he needs to help Chris. He asks Nick to tell Madison he couldn't find them. Celia takes Madison to the cellar to show her the dead, but Madison locks her inside the cell. When the burning building goes up in flames, Strand returns to the compound to help the rest of the group escape the fire, but when Madison sees Nick, he tells her that he couldn't find Travis and he isn't going with them because Celia was right about the group destroying everything in their path, and he no longer wants to be a part of it. Madison, Strand, Alicia, and Ofelia flee Celia's burning estate, intending to get back to the Abigail. However, they find out that the Abigail has been stolen, and are forced to scavenge a nearby hotel for supplies. While Alicia and Ofelia search the rooms, the two momentarily decide to clean up. After Alicia returns from taking a shower, she comes to realise that Ofelia has taken off. Meanwhile, Madison and Strand get drunk in the bar as they express their various frustration with life. However, a large horde of walkers attack the hotel, trapping all four inside.

Madison turns on the hotel lights against everybody's wishes in hopes of attracting Nick's attention, though Alicia convinces her to respect Nick's decision to choose death over their family, despite becoming upset about Madison not appearing to care about her decision to stick with the group. Madison shuts off the lights, but not before Travis, now alone, sees them. The next morning, survivors who had seen the hotel's lights come on begin to flock to the hotel gates, but the hotel survivors refuse to let them enter. Madison then spots Travis among the crowd and lets him inside. Madison then talks with Alicia and reveals to her that her father's car crash was not accidental, but suicide and reiterates her love for her. Afterwards, Madison sees that the survivor group at the start of the episode have been allowed into the hotel compound, with them being checked to see if they're healthy or sick. Later that night, a new group of survivors arrive at the hotel, among them the two tourists. At the hotel, the tourists are let in, and Madison recognizes them based on Travis' description. The tourists anger the rest of the refugees and are about to be thrown out of the hotel when Travis stops them and asks what happened to Chris. The tourists explain that Chris accidentally crashed their truck and was killed by the impact. However, several inconsistencies in their stories lead Travis to conclude that Chris was only injured in the crash and was killed by the tourists. Enraged, Travis beats the tourists to death and severely injures Oscar who tries to stop him. Strand warns Madison that Travis must be exiled in order to maintain the unity of the hotel survivors. Madison is reluctant to have Travis exiled but ultimately agrees to go with him the next morning while Strand refuses to have anything to do with it. Meanwhile, despite everybody's best efforts, Oscar dies from his head injury. Enraged, several of the hotel survivors break into Travis' room and attack him, forcing Alicia to kill one of them to save his life. Travis, Madison, and Alicia are forced to flee the hotel while Strand decides to stay behind after intervening to help them escape. They return to the bandits' supermarket and find the entire building abandoned, and Alicia questions Madison's motives when she starts searching bodies of Francisco and his family for clues to find Nick. They arrive at the community and find that Marco and his men have been killed by the infected.

Season 3

Travis, Madison and Alicia are captured by an armed group and taken to a military compound, where Travis is separated from them and is taken to a basement while Madison and Alicia are taken to an office. At the basement, Travis finds himself with Nick, an injured Luciana and other captives. The captives are shot to see how long it takes for them to turn. Travis, Luciana, and Nick attempt to escape, Nick and Luciana descending into a sewer but Travis is re-captured and made to fight the dead in a pit. Meanwhile, Madison and Alicia attack Troy, impaling one of his eyes with a spoon and taking him hostage. Madison demands her family released. The family is reunited but the compound is overrun with walkers, forcing everyone to leave. Travis, Luciana and Alicia escape aboard a helicopter while Madison and Nick leave in a truck with Troy.

The next morning Madison and Nick arrive at Broke Jaw Ranch, run by Jeremiah Otto, Jake and Troy's father. They find out that the helicopter carrying Travis, Alicia, Luciana, Jake, and Charlie never made it to the ranch causing Troy to order Madison and Nick off the truck while they wait outside the gates of the ranch while Troy goes looking for them. Nick wanting to leave the ranch because of Troy's actions back at the compound is convinced by Madison to wait. Madison is greeted by Jeremiah Otto who gives Madison coffee and asks if Travis could have hijacked the helicopter, implying his actions were based on his race, leading Madison to say he'd protect her daughter at all costs. Alicia returns with Jake and Luciana and discovers that Travis was killed during their flight to the farm, she breaks down crying devastated. In that moment Nick pulls out a gun (given by her earlier) on Troy for wanting to execute Luciana and refusing to give her medical attention, he eventually gives the gun to Jeremiah. Later that evening Madison is mourning the loss of Travis when Jeremiah approaches her to sign a checkout book for weapons, she signs and they have a brief conversation. That night at their bunker Madison is with her children, but Nick wants to leave due to Troy's actions at the compound, but Madison refuses and declares they stay because Travis died getting here and she's tired of running, and if the Otto's can't run the ranch they'll take it, she then proceeds to ask Alicia how Travis died.

Season 4

The fourth season has a two-year time jump from the previous season to coincide with Morgan Jones's crossover from The Walking Dead. In season 4 we only see Madison through flashbacks, she first appears in the second episode "Another Day in the Diamond" living in a baseball stadium where her, Nick, Alicia, Strand, and Luciana have lived for a year.

Development and reception

Madison Clark is portrayed by Kim Dickens (pictured)

Madison Clark is portrayed by Kim Dickens.[1] In season 4's mid-season finale, Madison Clark is killed off.[2]

Dickens has since commented on her characters death, saying:

"You know, when I went in and met with the showrunners and the producer and they told me the changes they saw and the arc they wanted to play out and that the first half of the season would end with Madison's demise, it was written. It's ultimately up to the producers and the writers. It was a shock and a huge disappointment to me. But it was already laid out. I felt like Madison had more story to tell and more road to travel. She could have gone in crazy directions. She could have become a villain. I was ready to do anything to go further and deeper with her. So was I satisfied with the story? I thought her demise was a beautiful sacrificial moment, but I would have envisioned a different death. I thought the episode in that moment was beautiful. I did. But it surprised me that that's the way it happened."[3]

Despite Kim Dickens receiving praise for her performance, Madison had received mixed reviews among fans and critics due to the uncertainty of whether she or Travis were the protagonist of the series, despite Dickens receiving top billing and being credited as the protagonist, but upon the death of Travis early in season 3 Madison started receiving critical acclaim as the death of Travis pushed her more towards a leader role and was established as the protagonist.

In his season review for IGN, Matt Fowler gave the third season an 8.2 out of 10 rating; praising Kim Dickens' character Madison, he wrote, "Fear the Walking Dead more solidly found its tone and voice this season by embracing the arid landscape, ramping up the human-on-human conflict, and rallying around Kim Dickens' anti-hero mom, Madison, as the driving character" and that it is now "a better series overall than The Walking Dead".[4]

The decision to kill off Madison received intense criticism and is widely regarded as the reason the show plummeted in viewership, despite the season receiving positive reviews.[5] Critics later expressed desire to have Dickens return as Madison at a later point in the series, as Madison's death was never actually shown, which was unusual for a lead character in the series.[6]