The Walking Dead has one of the most passionate fanbases on TV, which is a wonderful thing — to a point. Once fans start to blur the lines between the show and the real world — and the actors and their characters — they're crossing the line. That was the case for Josh McDermitt, who plays Eugene on the hit AMC show.
Entertainment Weekly reports that the actor has left Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook following online harassment, allegedly including death threats, from fans of the show who are unhappy with his character's actions in the latter half of season 7.
Before signing off, McDermitt shared a minute-long video on Facebook Live explaining his decision. "Death threats, don’t send me death threats, because I will ― I’m gonna report all that shit to the cops," he said in the video, captured by a Walking Dead Twitter fan account. "I’m just sick of it. You can hate Eugene, I don’t care. I’ll argue that you’re wrong, but you can think whatever you want. But when you start saying you hope I die, I don’t know if you’re talking about Josh or Eugene. I gotta report that shit."
He continued, encouraging trolls to expend their energy elsewhere. "So just don’t be an asshole. And then...stop complaining. Let’s just stop complaining about everything on the internet, okay? Seriously. Go spend time with your family or friends or loved ones. Just get off the internet. Is there anything else? Other than I love you? I do, I love you guys."
The apparent cause of the backlash against McDermitt and his character is Eugene's decision to join Team Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the ensuing fallout. But this kind of harassment is not about anything that happens on The Walking Dead — it's about people forgetting that their words are real and powerful. "People need to chill the eff out with the crap that they’re putting on the internet," the actor told the Huffington Post in an AOL Build Series interview in December, while defending co-star Alanna Masterson from body-shaming trolls. "It’s very disturbing because we are people, everyone."