[Warning: This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for The Walking Dead.]
The upcoming sixth season of The Walking Dead will see Rick Grimes and the rest of the remaining survivors continuing to try and make a life for themselves in the Alexandria Safe Zone, though some doubt Rick’s leadership skills and sanity. If there’s one thing to be said for Rick, however, it’s that he’s managed to make it through five whole seasons of The Walking Dead alive, and keep his two children alive as well. Not everyone has been so lucky.
Around 70% of all the characters who have appeared on The Walking Dead between Season 1 and Season 5 have since been killed off, meaning that in the show – as in real life – the dead significantly outnumber the living. While there are still plenty of reasons to root for the characters who have survived up until this point, it’s also worth looking back upon all the poor souls whose lives have been claimed by the zombie apocalypse so far.
Casualties of Season 5 included Bob “tainted meat” Stookey, feisty Beth Greene, the hammer-wielding Tyreese, and Rick’s beard. While the beard may grow back, the rest are gone for good – save for potential future appearances in the flashbacks that The Walking Dead is so fond of.
Nothing makes the afterlife more comfortable than having some trophies to line the mantelpiece with, so here are The Walking Dead Death Awards for all the deaths from Season 1 to Season 5. Rest in peace, friends.
Longest Time Survived Before Death
If Andrea had had her way, she would have died along with Jenner and Jacqui when the CDC blew up in The Walking Dead‘s Season 1 finale. She was saved by a bit of emotional blackmail from Dale, and ultimately ended up not only outliving him, but also becoming the longest-surviving character to die in the show so far, making it all the way to the Season 3 finale, “Welcome to the Tombs”.
In life, Andrea was probably one of the most frustrating characters on The Walking Dead. Headstrong to a fault, her achievements include shooting Daryl in the head, siding with the Governor, and not picking up pliers quickly enough. Nonetheless, she was a core part of the group for a long time and got a very tearful send-off when she finally went. If nothing else, at least she knew how the safety on her gun worked.
Hershel Greene started out as the patriarch of a small family and ended up becoming a father figure for an entire community of survivors – Rick included. Hershel went on an interesting character journey from a kind-hearted but standoffish farmer with naive views about the zombie apocalypse, through a brief stint of alcohol-fueled grief, before finally becoming one of the most likeable characters in the prison.
Hershel survived the total devastation of his family stronghold, became the only known character to be bitten by a Walker and not die of the infection and faced possible death once again by nursing flu victims when the prison was struck down by an epidemic. After being captured by the Governor, it almost looked like Hershel was going to cheat death again thanks to Rick’s speech-making skills, but instead he was brutally decapitated in front of his family and friends.
Best Near-Death Experience
Hershel might win the prize for having the closest brushes with death, but Daryl takes this prize for his (literal) uphill battle against being killed off in the Season 2 episode “Chupacabra”. This marked one of several occasions in which a Walking Dead character was haunted by hallucinations of a figure from their past, and in this case Daryl’s fevered state meant a guest appearance from the ever-entertaining Michael Rooker as Daryl’s big brother Merle.
After falling down a slope, getting stabbed with one of his own arrows, falling off a ridge, fighting off walkers, successfully dragging himself up the ridge and staggering through the woods back to the farm, Daryl’s reward was to get shot in the head by Andrea. All of this – lest we forget – while in pursuit of a little girl who was already dead. Little wonder that Daryl was so annoyed when he found out what was inside the barn.
Most Horrifying Death
From the moment that Noah started talking about his future plans to become a valued and useful member of the Alexandria community, it should have been clear that he was a goner. Yet despite the fact that the character hadn’t even been on The Walking Dead for that long, his death was hard-hitting largely because it was easily the goriest killing of a main character on the show thus far, and also because it was caused by another character’s cowardice and stupidity.
Like Glenn, the audience was forced to watch as Noah get his skull crushed and ripped apart by a horde of ravenous walkers. If there’s one silver lining to this horrible scene, it’s that it gave rise to the joke, “Everybody ate Chris.”
Most Dramatic Death
Lori’s death-by-childbirth and her subsequent haunting of Rick took the prize for The Walking Dead‘s most dramatic death for quite a while, but in Season 5 she was one-upped by Tyreese and his drawn-out, hallucination-ridden death by a Walker bite in the episode “What Happened and What’s Going On”. It was the first time in the series that the effects of the Walker bite from the moment of being bitten to the moment of death had been shown in full from the perspective of the victim. It also served as a reunion episode for characters who had previously been killed off in the show.
Tyreese’s death was especially dramatic since both he and the group fought against it right up until the last minute, with Michonne amputating his arm in the hope of saving him. Unfortunately it was too little, too late for Tyreese, but at least he got a good send-off.
Winner: The Well Walker
Feeling thirsty? The Well Walker from the Season 2 episode “Cherokee Rose” just might cure that. Found gently soaking at the bottom of a well on Hershel’s farm, this unpleasant creature had obviously fallen in some time ago and become completely waterlogged, leaving him bloated and ready to burst.
Speaking to EW, executive producer and makeup designer Greg Nicotero revealed that the Well Walker was inspired by The Walking Dead‘s writers taking a trip to his special effects workshop, KNB, and seeing a disgusting, bloated mask that had been created for the 2007 zombie movie Planet Terror. The Well Walker was played by Brian Hillard, who had to wear a full body suit made out of foam, silicone and water balloons. The final effect was very gross and extremely memorable, especially when the Well Walker splits in half down the middle.
Most Horrible Animal Death
Winner: Rick’s horse
Thanks to their speed and hardiness, horses have a better chance of surviving in the zombie apocalypse than humans do. That is, unless Rick Grimes decides to come along and ‘save’ them. This poor unnamed creature was plucked from a farm for more or less the sole purpose of creating a cool shot of Rick entering Atlanta on horseback, dressed in his uniform and hat with a full bag of guns on his back. Shortly thereafter he loses both the guns and horse, but at least the hat survives.
Rick’s equine friend falls foul of a herd and is horrifically disembowelled – a grueling scene for animal lovers. Even in its final moments, however, the horse manages to distract the horrible horde for long enough to allow Rick to escape and meet up with Glenn. What a hero.
Until Next Time…
This concludes the Walking Dead Death Awards for Season 1 through 5. We look forward to returning after Season 10 to fondly remember the deaths of many other main characters on the show, as well as the lives lost on AMC’s new spinoff Fear the Walking Dead.
Did we miss one of your favorite death scenes? Let us know which characters you miss the most – and those you were glad to be rid of – in the comments.