The Walking Dead established itself pretty early in its first season as a show that is not afraid to kill off major characters. Now that we’re well into the show’s ninth season, and past the 100-episode mark, there have been plenty of character deaths.
It can be tough for the writers to keep these scenes interesting, since the viewers need closure on the characters’ story arcs and yet also need to be shocked when they go. It’s a fine line to walk, so the show has naturally had mixed results with it. Here is every death on The Walking Dead, ranked.
While it was great to see this idiot go, he almost brought down Glenn with him. And that led to the dumpster fake-out, one of the most controversial gimmicks in the show’s history.
The Governor’s assistant came and went without making much of an impact. His zombification was more a part of Andrea’s death than an event of its own.
This was the death that made a lot of viewers tune out after the season 7 premiere. It was so unnecessarily gory and drawn-out, as the poor guy’s eye popped out and he continued talking to Maggie before being delivered the final death blow.
It’s horrifying without also being entertaining.
This guy’s death wasn’t particularly surprising, because his relentless abuse towards his wife Carol marked him as one who had to go, but it was still satisfying to watch such a monster get eaten alive.
If anything, viewers were glad to see Andrea go after her romance with the Governor had made her unbearable. Still, it was a surprise to see that a character with one of the longest arcs in the comics died so early – and that after somehow escaping a zombified Milton, she still died from a bite.
What a shame. Just as her romance with Rick was finally starting to blossom, Jessie disappeared into a horde of walkers, because she just couldn’t let her kids go. All she did wrong was love her kids too much.
The fierce leader of Alexandria had kind of a quiet end, which was a little disappointing. Plus, even though she’d been bitten, for whatever reason, she was allowed to be in a room alone with the baby. Are they nuts?
It’s hard to care about a character dying when the events leading up to their death highlight their foolishness.
Dale went out for a walk in the pitch black in the middle of the night and ended up getting bitten by a walker, surprising no one.
This poor guy was just shot and left for dead by Shane on a supply run. He was a casualty of Shane’s downward spiral into insanity. Before then, he hadn’t made much of an impact, so Shane’s actions were surprising without the character loss being that tragic.
After all the things Tyreese went through, including fending off a crowd of walkers with his bare hands in order to save Judith from a Termite, it was a shame that he had such a low-key death. Plus, it was weird that a whole episode was dedicated to the hallucinations he had as he slowly slipped into the light.
27 Dr. Edwin Jenner
This CDC doctor had a good point about the futility of living in a world ruled by the undead, but he didn’t have to decide for everyone else whether they wanted to die. Still, his wise final words to Rick have echoed throughout the show ever since.
This was pretty stupid. What did Beth hope to achieve from stabbing the armed cop who hates her in the shoulder? Her captors were happily releasing her back to Rick’s group before she foolishly got herself killed.
Still, it was a tragic sight to see Daryl carry her limp corpse out of the hospital.
Olivia made her name as one of the few characters who wasn’t afraid to stand up to Negan, but as such, she didn’t do herself any favors. It was no surprise, really, when Negan had her killed, but it was still sad. Her only crime was courage.
24 Sam and Ron
This was a two-for-one deal as both of Jessie’s irritating kids were dispatched in the same episode. Fans had been waiting for these two to go for a long time and it was satisfying more than surprising when it finally happened in the season 6 midseason premiere.
A lot of people probably don’t remember Amy, Andrea’s sister, because she died way back in season 1. But her death was important, because it told us the show wasn’t afraid to kill off main characters with unresolved story arcs.
After Simon betrayed Negan, it was only a matter of time before he was eliminated. But we didn’t expect it to be such a dignified end as a fight to the death.
Sometimes Rick Grimes takes things too far, but we can sort of understand that, when he and his friends have been held over a trough ready to be bled out and eaten by cannibals, he’d want to deliver some pretty brutal payback if he got the chance.
And that’s just what he did when Terminus head honcho Gareth was presented to him.
It was surprising that Carl would die at all, since he seemed to be one of those characters like Rick and Daryl who are safe from ever dying. But then the show has proven a bunch of times that it’s not afraid to kill off ‘safe’ characters. The way Carl went out was underwhelming, but the fact it happened at all was surprising enough.
Spencer was an arrogant, useless tool from day one. The guy was a total doofus. So, it was satisfying when Negan pulled out a knife and opened up his stomach – and about time, too.
Just when you thought The Walking Dead’s writers had lost their ability to shock you, they went and had a child murder her own little sister. The zombies are scary, but this is truly horrific.
T-Dog got a hero’s death as he was torn apart by walkers while saving Carol’s life.
If you give your life to save another character’s life, then you go down in history in The Walking Dead fan base’s good books.
If he hadn’t yelled, “Tainted meat! Tainted meat!” as he watched a group of cannibals eat his leg, Bob’s death wouldn’t be nearly as memorable as it is. But because he did, it goes down as one of the show’s greatest death scenes.
15 The Governor
The Governor’s demise was a long time coming. He was the worst. During the attempted prison takeover, he was in a fight with Rick, winning, and it seemed like he might get away – and even kill Rick. But then Michonne drove her katana through his chest and his girlfriend Lily sealed the deal with a shot to the head. Everybody got a piece.
While the loss of Shiva had been signposted before it happened, it was still sad to see such a majestic beast lose her life at the hands of a crowd of walkers. She struggled to escape their grasp, but in the end, it was pointless. It was over.
If there’s one thing The Walking Dead does well, it’s graphic violence. Watching Noah get torn limb from limb in a revolving door right on the other side of the glass from Glenn as he screamed his heart out was both gut-wrenching and heartbreaking.
Plus, it led to that hilarious “Everybody Ate Chris” meme.
Abraham went out with style. He took one swing of Negan’s bat Lucille to the head and still managed to look back up and insult Negan before being terminated with the next swing. It was the most Abraham way he could’ve gone out.
11 The Scavengers
This was pretty surprising. Negan sent Simon to kill one of Jadis’ people to send a message, but he ended up getting mad and having all but one, Jadis, wiped out in a tornado of lead.
Sadly, the season 9 midseason finale had to sacrifice a great character in order to introduce the Whisperers to the show in the most satisfying way possible. Jesus goes to stab a walker, which then ducks out of the way and takes him down, telling him he doesn’t belong there. Turns out the “walker” is a live human wearing walker skin. Chilling.
Merle’s death at the hands of the Governor led to one of the most emotional scenes in the show when Daryl finds him, zombified, and has to terminate him for good.
When we met Merle in season 1, he was terrible. We wouldn’t have cared if he died. But by the time he did, he’d redeemed himself.
This would be a prime candidate for the darkest moment in The Walking Dead history. There are a lot of dark moments in the show, but Carol taking a deranged little girl out into a field like Old Yeller and shooting her in the back takes the gold.
This was a toughie. Not only did Carl have to watch his mother die during the most slapdash C-section birth ever performed, and all during a walker riot – he then had to shoot her in the head when she turned.
After all of Gregory’s flip-flopping, changing sides and deceiving his allies just to avoid any possible inkling of danger, he deserved a really horrible death. And that’s exactly what Maggie gave him when she decided to publicly hang him.
Denise was a forgettable character, but she had a memorable final scene. In the middle of an impassioned speech – the most lines she’d had since she was introduced on the show – an arrow from Daryl’s stolen crossbow shot through the back of her head and out of her eye.
As if that wasn’t enough, then she began slurring her words. It was a disturbing and unforgettable moment.
While Jon Bernthal is now a beloved star thanks to The Punisher, he was once one of the most hated people on television. Shane’s mental health went very quickly downhill after Rick returned and took over the group. He wanted to abandon the search for Sophia, he attacked Lori a few times, he might be Judith’s father, and in the end, he needed to be killed by Rick – and then again by Carl.
As much as we didn’t want to see Hershel go, decapitation is a pretty memorable way to leave this Earth. His dismembered head was also the opening shot of the season 4 midseason premiere episode, so it gets bonus points for gruesomeness.
We knew Sasha’s days were numbered when Sonequa Martin-Green signed on to star in Star Trek: Discovery. Still, she went out in the greatest way possible, poisoning herself while being held as a hostage by Negan and then lunging at him, zombified, when he went to present her to the Alexandrians.
After half a season was dedicated to the search for Carol’s daughter, with everyone constantly debating whether or not it was even worth it, it was a huge surprise to find out she’d been in the barn the whole time, and Hershel knew. And then Rick just marched up to her and shot her in the head. That was a pretty WTF midseason finale.