Ben Franklin wrote, “Fish and visitors smell after three days.” The main core of survivors from The Walking Dead‘s zombie apocalypse are heading into their seventh year wandering the South’s backwoods and blown-out cities, so it’s fairly safe to say they smell a whole lot worse than they would at three days. The stress of surviving and, later in Alexandria, putting away survival instincts in order to start rebuilding, can bring out the best and worst in a person. We’ve seen many of these characters at their best, and their worst.
Sometimes the worst of a character makes them more unlikable or unrelatable than we want for the heroes of our story. Sometimes the best of a character just isn’t good enough to give us a true rooting interest in them. Part of the draw of the series initially was that no one was safe. As we head into Season 7 and the long-awaited payoff to that cliffhanger ending (regardless of how you felt about it), this looks to be more true than ever. To get that feeling back, we’ve assembled a handful of character death suggestions that, while we won’t necessarily be jumping for joy when they bite the big one, they won’t exactly cause us to break our TVs in anger and/or ruin our lives entirely.
For spoiler purposes, we’ll assume you’re caught up to the Season 6 finale.
The biggest reason for his inclusion on this list, ironically, is also his biggest argument for not being on the list. We don’t know a very good way to say this politely, so we’ll just come out with it: Heath hasn’t shown us enough in the time he’s been on the show to be worth keeping around. Heath has been built up to be a character with a large role on the show, but it’s pretty difficult to come up with anything memorable that he’s done or said. This might be a red flag for Heath, as he has joined Tara out on a supply run last time we saw him. That is to say that his lack of a defined and well-rounded personality on the show might make him the equivalent of a glorified ‘red shirt’ in Star Trek… someone worth having around to kill off that means more than just an extra, but won’t result in the showrunners receiving death threats on Twitter.
14. Daryl Dixon
Don’t get us wrong: we LOVE Daryl. Norman Reedus’ biker-with-a-heart-of-gold character was probably the breakout star of the entire series, winning over fans skeptical of a character that didn’t even exist in the comics. So why wouldn’t Daryl’s demise kill us on the inside? Let’s answer that with another question: what more does Daryl have to give us on the show? His character arc started with him as an outsider and a potential hazard when his brother, Merle, was left for dead in Atlanta. As time marched on, his contributions to and bonds with the group strengthened with each passing season.
We’ve seen him be a great secondary leader. We’ve seen him be a commando and a stealth weapon. We’ve seen him at his most vulnerable. We’ve seen him break away and go off on his own. We’ve seen him just about every which way we can, short of the show completely jumping the shark with his character. We thank Daryl for his contributions, but we accept that it may be an inevitability that his time has come. As one of the survivors left kneeling before Negan and his bat, Lucille, he may well not last another full episode. And really, what better way of thanking Norman and Daryl for his/their contributions to the show and our lives than by giving him the most dramatic exit possible?
13. Eugene Porter
The character of Eugene has walked a very perilous tightrope in his time on the show. Had he stayed the cartoonishly cowardly autism spectrum liar (and peeping tom) that he’d started out as, fans would have been sick of his antics fairly quickly. But a great drama leaves ample room for character growth, and we’ve seen that with the heroics and initiative Eugene has displayed recently. His bravado, and how he has conveyed the ‘new and improved Eugene’ to Abraham has been pretty damn funny. This development, however, will also wear thin fairly quickly if his character doesn’t continue to evolve.
Should Eugene manage to evade the wrath of Lucille, it seems very likely that the incident will have a profound effect on Eugene and his psyche. The lingering question is, however, how long will we be able to stomach the fallout from Eugene’s latest brush with death?
In the comics, Eugene has taken up residence in something that is almost a parallel story… where his actions and motivations are allowed to breathe and create a level of intrigue that keeps us engaged. If the show can’t find that sort of balance for him shortly, just as quickly as we all fell in love with the mullet, we may find ourselves calling for the show to get a haircut.
We’ve only gotten to know Gregory in the show for a short while. The leader of the Hilltop Colony settlement, he made it abundantly clear very early on that, while not exactly a bad guy, he is eminently unlikable. It’s a credit to actor Xander Berkeley and the writers of the show that Gregory has put such a bad taste in our mouths in such a short span of time.
Unlike the previous entries, we simply won’t mind Gregory meeting his maker simply because he’s a jerk. The reason for Gregory being this low on the list, though, is because we feel that there is much more drama to play out involving this man and his motivations. As the world of men grows larger in Season 7, seeing how the leaders of this world interact and compare to one another will be one of the most fascinating aspects of the show. And so, despite the fact that Gregory’s end would bring us no small amount of pleasure, we are curious to see what the creative minds behind the show have in store for “the boss”.
11. Carl Grimes
We’ll wait for you to stop gasping in shock/awe/disgust. We’ve seen little Carl grow up among the dead over these last 6 years. While he started as a young boy in constant need of rescue, he has matured and become a contributor — every bit as much as the adults. Unfortunately, it’s also given the Grimes boy a bit of an attitude that’s veering towards insufferable. While the actions of that punk Ron were inexcusable, it’s not like Carl and his patronizing tone and actions helped the kid’s rage problems any (you know, that and Carl’s dad killing Ron’s dad).
Headed into Season 7, it looks like that’s the Carl that we’ve got in store for us. And really, what better way to show that nobody is safe… and to throw Rick into a justifiable dramatic malaise than losing his boy? We would never condone the killing of children, even fictional ones, but if Carl goes to meet his maker this season, we won’t be wearing black for long.
Oooh…. have you ever been so mad at a fictional character before for being good at what he does? Simon serves as Negan’s right hand man in guiding the Saviors, and there’s just something the character exudes that makes you want to see him get his comeuppance even more than Negan himself. That is most definitely a credit to the distinctive voice, sinister look, and great acting of actor Steven Ogg; and it’s very probable that all those things led him to being cast as co-lead Trevor in Grand Theft Auto V.
Negan may very well be the greatest character ever created in the history of fiction (take that, Batman!), and so we’re super pumped to see what the show has in store for him and how it differs from the comics. We don’t have that same attachment to Simon, or at least, not yet. Right now, we’re just angry. Right now, he’s just a bad guy (an effective bad guy, but still). We’re looking forward to Season 7 convincing us to begrudgingly drop him from this list.
9. Tara Chambler
The character of Tara came to us through such a weird little outcropping of story. For those of you that don’t remember, it was Tara and her family that took in The Governor after he’d lost control of Woodbury… believing him to be a good guy. Tara and her naivete seem a tad out of place in the middle of the end of the world. While her character has grown, it feels almost as though her likability has been foisted upon us. And it’s worked… but not enough to save her from this list.
The sad truth of the matter is that a show about a zombie outbreak that’s taken over the world can’t keep every good-natured character around forever. Someone has to fall in order to keep things interesting and dynamic. When going down the list of people who seem the least essential, she finds herself pretty far up on the expendable side. She never did anything wrong to the point where we resent Tara, but them’s the breaks. That she and Heath have broken off from the main group on a supply run, seemingly escaping the wrath of Negan, sets up a good parallel story where we can bond more with Miss Chambler, and then maybe wish her a fond farewell.
8. Abraham Ford
The Walking Dead works best when the survivors are fighting for their lives. In order to make the threats viably threatening with an ever-more-resourceful group of survivors, the threats have to become consistently ‘bigger and badder’. Abraham Ford, who has actual military fighting experience and has battled all the way from Texas in the zombie apocalypse, tips the scales so hard that the threats are forced to be big spectacles. Abraham is a symbol of power for Rick and company in that he is such a capable fighter, and yet he still finds himself surprisingly low on the totem pole of the group. His vulgar and folksy sayings have been getting more convoluted, and are beginning to sound just as made up as slang invented by David Mamet. And, given Abraham’s ‘suicide by recklessness’ phase followed by his subsequent attempt to play house with Sasha, we’d say he’s just about primed for a ceremonious, and messy, exit. That he is maybe the most hardened of the group will go a long way to showing that all the training and preparation in the world doesn’t mean much when you’re at the end of it.
7. Gabriel Stokes
Gabriel, Gabriel, Gabriel, Gabriel. That he’d survived as long as he had after the dead came back is a nothing more than a testament to how cowardly he’d been. It is pretty tough to feel sorry for a shepherd that has turned his back on his flock. Compounding that, he was saved time and again by Rick and company… and how does he repay it? By turning on Rick and the rest of the group and selling them out in Alexandria. Sure, he seems to be coming around and is now looking to do his part, but if you ask us, it’s too little and too late.
It will certainly be interesting to see how his character develops as the season goes on. How will he cope with the Saviors and a more human-faced threat? Previously, he assumed Rick’s group was detestable for massacring the Terminus folks… and they were cannibals. The Wolves seemed almost more beast than man (hence the name), and so Gabriel seemed less troubled by their demise. The Saviors, however, look to be just a group of folks surviving and thriving in the cold and harsh reality they’ve been presented with, albeit with a sadistic streak. Will he again take up his stance that killing is wrong? The fact that Gabriel is played by Seth Gilliam, the badass bug killer Sugar from Starship Troopers, only holds so much weight. Gabriel must atone for his sins; and he must atone for them in blood.
6. Sasha Williams
Sasha has made her way back from the brink more than once since she entered our lives. For a time, it seemed that losing her brother, Tyreese, and her main squeeze, Bob, would be more than she could handle. It is nice to see her back to being a human being, so to speak. But Sasha’s petulance and brash behavior, and even her more recent mishandling of Abraham’s voiced affection, isn’t exactly exactly a recipe for audience endearment.
While we can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to lose so many people that you’ve loved, we find it hard to believe that it would cause someone to act out like a toddler throwing a perpetual temper tantrum. The reality of this show is that people that we grow accustomed to seeing on a weekly basis will exit the show in gruesome and horrific ways. Many of them will cause us to weep or shudder or yell out in anger and disbelief (Noah and Beth come to mind off the top of our heads). Something tells us that if Sasha becomes one of the casualties of the program, we might not be shedding the same amount of tears over her departure.
Dwight has turned out to be a real punk. We didn’t know what to expect when we saw him running with the two girls… and when he accepted an invite to Alexandria, but instead robbed Darryl, we were ticked off (rightfully so). Dwight, now back with the Saviors, has shown us to be untrustworthy and worthy of our enmity. That he killed Denise with Darryl’s own crossbow was a gut punch that we’ll never be able to fully shake off.
He obviously has experienced a punishment at the hands of the Saviors (his face having been burnt), but he seems to be enjoying being evil too much. Is he really a good guy at heart? We don’t know. Do you want to depend on the comics to fuel your expectations for who and what Dwight is? The television show has shown time and again that it’s willing to play off our expectations and forge its own path. In other words, throw out any preconceived notions you might have and let the show dictate how you feel about Dwight. We have been, and it’s made us mad as hell.
4. Spencer Monroe
Nothing quite makes us grow cold to a character like outright incompetence, and Spencer has had that in spades. The son of Alexandria’s former leader, Deanna, Spencer has been responsible for more than his fair share of suffering through ineptitude, stupidity, and selfishness. While he did stop the Wolves from literally gatecrashing Alexandria, it was his poor shot that drew the zombie horde to town. It, too, was his fault that the walls of Alexandria came down, because he monkeyed with the decaying tower that came crashing into the town’s perimeter.
What probably made us hate him more than anything was the moment when it seemed like he’d finally got his head screwed on right and was helping to ration food in Alexandria… before it was revealed that he’d stolen much of it for himself and got stinking drunk in the process (not to mention unfairly admonishing his grieving mother). Spencer has done enough to set up an epic (we hope) final scene for himself; and we’re sure we’re not alone in hoping it’ll come sooner rather than later.
3. Carol Peletier
When we first Carol, she was a demure, oft-abused housewife, though she soon became the concerned mother who stepped up. We’ve seen Carol the wilderness survival instructor with ice in her veins, before we saw her evolve into a commando version of Rambo, John McClane, and MacGyver all rolled into one. She then became the Carol who doesn’t want to love kids anymore (with her bizarre treatment of and relationship with Sam). And now, six seasons of occasionally abrupt transformations later, we have the Carol who turned into putty because she can’t go back to the way things were (tract housing has that effect on people).
Carol has ridden a roller coaster ride of emotions and personalities during the course of the show… and we rolled right on with it. Her philosophical spat with Morgan has, frankly, made them both look bad, and her newly re-found skittishness has us wishing for an Andrea-like reprieve from the character. We love Carol; she is one of the great female role models on television, but we do not like what has happened to her recently. We’d rather see Carol go out with a bang than a whimper, and it feels like the longer this drags out, the less like her strongest self she will seem.
We understand that Enid is a character who is being used to mature some characters (Carl) and to allow other characters some very stirring and emotional speeches (Glenn). But is there someone out there who actually likes Enid for Enid? The character has done about all she can as an angsty loner teenager to do the opposite of endear her to the television audience. Even at the end of the episode “JSS”, where the show’s writers tried to explain away why we should feel for Enid, we came away with just a bit more empathy for Enid’s struggle… and the knowledge that she’s a vandal.
Enid is beyond the age, especially now a season further in, where it would be taboo for her to be killed off (plus, it’s pretty safe to say that babies might be the only taboo unkillables left after the whole Mika and Lizzie tragedy). While it’s not too late for her to turn things around and become a productive and sympathetic character, Enid stands right now as one of the most frustrating (and expendable) characters on the series.
1. Morgan Jones
Blasphemy, you say? Hear us out for a moment. Morgan began the series as a character that they always intended to bring back around, but not to the degree that fan reaction demanded (and received). It is safe to say, with his semi-misguided attempt at “rescuing” the Wolf Owen and his bickering back and forth with Carol, that some of us are experiencing a bout of buyer’s remorse on the guy.
We were treated to one of the better, and more refreshing, bottle episodes of the series in “Here’s Not Here”, which explained how Morgan became a zen master/fighting machine/conscientious objector to killing. But seriously, we say enough is enough. Morgan’s preachy non-preachiness, and his acquisition of skills, has turned him into a silly storytelling trope that the show doesn’t need. Morgan’s not magical, nor should he be. His demise could easily be seen as a stand-in for Rick (because we all know that Rick is safe no matter what until the last couple episodes of the show). It would also stir up some emotions that will recall just how much we came to love Morgan when he first saved Rick, how sorry we felt for Morgan when he was in his psychotic loner “Clear” phase, and how morosely happy we are that Morgan and his son will be reunited in the hereafter.
Which characters on The Walking Dead do you think are expendable? Are any of the folks on our list the one that will be introduced to Lucille in the season premiere? Let us know in the comments.