The Walking Dead was THE breakout show on cable when it was introduced in 2010. Even now, almost ten years later, the show remains far ahead of anything on cable where ratings are concerned. It was extremely popular in its heyday due to storylines that pit characters in life-ending situations with choices impossible to make. The tension that these stories brought was what made it so much fun to watch; you could call the show a character study of people when they are in the worst of situations. This is why we became attached to these characters and would worry if they would see a terrible end in whatever episode that aired.
The Walking Dead has a habit of replacing its characters on regular intervals so as to drive home the idea that anyone can bite the dust at any point. While this made the show feel like serious business right from the get-go, the core group had, at that time, always remained. We grew very fond of these characters and they were the prime ones we followed to see where the apocalypse world would go with these people at its forefront.
Now, almost all the originals have gone and only a handful remain. This isn’t a good thing as the show’s popularity has severely lacked in the last couple of years. There’s no doubt that character departures, and retaining lackluster characters, have contributed to this downfall in popularity and acclaim.
Here are 15 Character Exits That Hurt The Show (And 10 That Need To Go).
25 Hurt: Jesus
The only good character introduced in Season 6 who was, well, good. Jesus was the final person we had any care for at the Hilltop and his demise in the mid-season finale of Season 9 takes away any interest we might have had in the location.
Jesus was also just such a cool guy to follow, with a great heart, and his teased storyline of becoming the leader of the Hilltop was something we wanted to watch. However, he wasn’t given much to do as of late and that’s why he was written out.
24 Needs To Go: Daryl
What exactly has Daryl done since Season 5? For the last three years, he’s descended into the most boring character you can think of. He became a breakout character earlier on due to his snarky personality and quick wit, but none of that remains now as he just drones in his dialogue.
Even the most ardent fans of his have lost interest because there’s just nothing to follow about Daryl anymore. We know he’s just going to grunt and hardly say anything about any situation.
23 Hurt: Beth
Beth’s demise was used to further the notion that anyone could pass away in The Walking Dead world, but it wasn’t the best decision. She had finally grown from just being a dumb kid (as seen from Season 2 to the first half of Season 4), only to be taken out in the blink of an eye.
She would’ve fit in well at the Alexandria Safe-Zone and her integration in this society would’ve been something very interesting to see.
22 Needs To Go: Jerry
Other than just smiling all the time, what does this guy bring to the table, really? Jerry has exclusively been King Ezekiel’s right-hand man since his introduction and it’s not fun anymore. All he does his smile and make light of every situation.
It was refreshing at first to see someone with a positive outlook, but when the guy’s only attribute seems to consist of this, it’s not very becoming. Despite being on the show for three seasons, we have zero care for what he does.
21 Hurt: Tyreese
Like Beth, this guy was taken out just when things were starting to get interesting. The thing is, though, that Tyreese’s exit made perfect sense and it was the right time to take him out. However, considering we had liked Tyreese so much better than his sister Sasha, his exit didn’t help the latter.
There’s also the fact that his demise made no difference as, apart from the episode in which he passes away, Tyreese is never really mentioned again.
20 Hurt: Glenn
By the time of his demise, Glenn had become a bit boring, but it was his departure that signaled the fall in The Walking Dead’s popularity. Since he’s been gone, the show has never been half of what it used to be – critically and commercially.
As it turned out, he was in the top-tier level of characters on the show and fans did tune in to watch Glenn’s adventures. After he was taken out so horribly, The Walking Dead has never been able to find its footing once more. A significant portion of the audience left with Glenn.
19 Needs To Go: Nabila
Look, representation is important, but when it’s inaccurate representation, then it just needs to go. Nabila’s introduction was met with cheers due to her being a Muslim character; however, she hasn’t displayed anything a Muslim does other than wear a hijab.
Her being in a live-in, physical relationship with Jerry contradicts Muslim principles; it doesn’t make sense why she would go against these principles if she still wears a hijab. There’s also the fact that Nabila is a boring character who has no personality or edge.
18 Hurt: Axel
Axel was the only prison inmate who was exciting and engaging to follow. Having been introduced in acrimonious circumstances, Axel’s humor and good nature began rubbing off on everyone. He was becoming a permanent part of the group when he was taken out in an instant by the Governor (with a headshot).
It’s a shame because Axel’s humor was something that was very much needed in The Walking Dead. It had brought a nice air of relaxation to the community and the episodes, but this was dropped in favor of dropping Axel.
17 Needs To Go: Eugene
The guy is so infuriatingly frustrating that the poor actor got threats about him on social media, prompting him to quit the platform altogether. While the people who threatened are nothing but immature, Eugene is someone that’s near-impossible to like.
He spent all of Season 8 as a turncoat while in Season 9, he hasn’t done anything other than continue being a coward. After six seasons on the show, you’d expect him to be more of a developed character, but Eugene doesn’t do anything other than drone on in his robotic voice.
16 Hurt: The Governor
Although it would be ridiculous if the Governor ever came back, it would be interesting to see how he’d fare against Negan. Up until we’d seen Negan in action, the Governor had been the best villain on The Walking Dead by far. He was cold, not-so-calculating, but extremely resourceful.
It was how unhinged he was that made him fascinating to watch; you’d never know what to expect from him. He’d settled in well on The Walking Dead, but it was time to say goodbye when we did. Still, the show hasn’t been as good since he left.
15 Hurt: Carl
The show made its biggest blunder when it took out Carl in Season 8. Everything could have gone peachy after Rick’s departure in Season 9 had his son been there to take over the lead role, yet this became a missed opportunity.
Carl was the last real influence from Season 1 and his departure has caused many to turn on the show altogether. The showrunners could’ve presented the story to us as having been about Carl all along had he not met his demise in such boring fashion.
14 Needs To Go: Ezekiel
When he was first introduced in Season 7, we felt Ezekiel would hold the key to bridging the gap between the heroes and the Saviors. While he did contribute in the war, Ezekiel wasn’t the standout performer by a mile.
His King schtick was what kept him interesting for a while, but since that’s gone away, he just seems like a guy who talks with big words. In Season 9, he’s barely been there at all and it looks like he’s going to be heading for a very bad fate soon.
13 Hurt: Noah
Noah was taken out far too soon. He had only just been introduced in Season 5, only to be eaten by the walkers near the end of the season. What’s worse is that his introduction was the reason why Beth was written out of the show.
Noah had a good relationship with Glenn as well and we were led to believe this was going to morph into something of a mentor-protégé relationship – nothing of that sort transpired. There was just a lot of wasted potential where Noah is considered.
12 Needs To Go: Alden
Alden made perfect sense in Season 8. He was responsible for showing to Maggie that not all the Saviors were bad guys and Maggie’s ponderings over taking out all the captives was a wrong decision. He had great chemistry with Maggie, leading most to believe he would take on the role of Dante from the comics as her love interest.
That didn’t happen and Maggie’s departure meant Alden is now in a weird relationship with the much younger Enid. Since no one’s interested in that, Alden doesn’t have a role to play anymore.
11 Hurt: Simon
Simon was remarkably developed for a guy who initially came on merely as Negan’s lackey. He grew to have a crazed personality of his own and then began plotting to take out Negan so he could have the leadership position.
It was one of the more engaging storylines from Season 8, so it was a shame when Simon was throttled by Negan. Like Negan, Simon was the only good thing to come out of the humdrum Saviors storyline, and his departure meant that only Negan survived from that plot.
10 Needs To Go: Magna
Yeah, we understand that Magna has only just been introduced to the show, but she’s been so unlikable that we can’t wait until she’s written out. If the comics are anything to go by, this won’t be happening, but it would be a good swerve if she was eaten by zombies.
In her first appearance alone, she had the harebrained idea to take out Michonne in secret; an idiotic move considering Michonne is one of the leaders of the Alexandria Safe-Zone. Since then, all she’s done is throw a tantrum at one thing or another.
9 Hurt: Maggie
Although Maggie was one of those characters we had lost much of our love for, she was still an original member of the group, and with so many lame new additions, her absence has been felt. While she didn’t have much brewing in terms of story, other than a potential relationship with Alden, Maggie did make the Hilltop a location worth visiting.
Since her departure, there’s a lesser loyalty from fans toward The Walking Dead as now it’s mostly comprised of new characters rather than those from earlier seasons.
8 Needs To Go: Enid
Enid was never a good character in the first place and it’s a wonder she’s lasted this long on the show. She was given the role of Sofia from the comics and made something of a daughter for Maggie, but we never saw it as believable.
She was also given the role of Carl's love interest, but this was ended before it could start. Now, her role as Alden and Henry’s love interest doesn’t strike anyone as engaging. Her own personality suddenly became cheerful from someone who had a traumatic past; there’s not much consistency there.
7 Hurt: Hershel
Hershel’s role as the mentor of the group has been sorely missed for five seasons now. In Season 5, Rick became much darker in personality as he didn’t have the presence of Hershel in his life anymore. In Season 6, Rick made the mistake of messing with the Saviors because no one was there to talk him out of it.
All these decisions wouldn’t have been made had Hershel’s influence still been on the show. His small appearance in Rick’s departure episode showed us why his presence was so important.
6 Needs To Go: Tara
Quite possibly the most useless character on the show, Tara has no business being on The Walking Dead anymore. It’s ridiculous a character as cool as Jesus was taken out, yet one like Tara is still there.
Her plucky personality was never becoming, and it’s annoying even more so considering it’s been about a decade since the apocalypse and she’s still the same. Whenever she’s tried to be serious, it’s been so hard to believe that we want her to just go away.
5 Hurt: Shane
Along with Rick, Shane has been the coolest character to have ever been on The Walking Dead. Had we not had a villain of his caliber, the show would never have been successful in the first place. His presence was such that we were all more excited for his small appearance in Season 9 than any other main character’s role.
Shane had such great chemistry with Rick, both as a friend and as a rival, that it’s too bad he bowed so early on in Season 2.
4 Hurt: Abraham
Out of the three new characters introduced in the second half of Season 4, only Abraham was the one we actually cared about. He always had a mouth full of quips to suit any occasion, and it was great to have someone who was so physically dominant in the group.
His mental trauma was one very interesting to explore, and it was only because he was there that we actually tolerated Eugene and Rosita when they were onscreen. He even went out like the cool guy that he always was.
3 Needs To Go: Rosita
Even more so than Tara, Rosita is by far the worst character to have lived so long. Her personality has been akin to watching paint dry – she’s just that boring. Abraham was the only thing that made her relevant to the audience and she’s never been able to stand on her own.
Now paired with Father Gabriel – a truly horrible coupling – Rosita is still on the show, but these just might be her last days if the comic book is anything to by. Let’s hope we’re right here.
2 Hurt: Morgan
For five seasons, the show teased us with the reappearance of Morgan Jones. All of Season 5 was dedicated to showing us that he was on the way, but Season 6 swerved that by having him do his own thing.
From Season 7 and Season 8, we were shown Morgan’s psyche going down the drain, but this made for a thoroughly interesting storyline. Now he’s moved to Fear the Walking Dead and the show has never been better. Maybe the actor realized this and jumped ship when he had the chance.
1 Hurt: Rick
When a show continues along without its main character, you know things aren’t going well. Rick was one of the few main protagonists in shows who was also the best character, and his departure has meant a sizable portion have just tuned out of The Walking Dead completely.
Anything that happened in that universe was worth watching because Rick would face it. Now, do most of us care what happens to the group at all? Rick’s relationship with Negan should’ve been the highlight going forward, but now that’s been taken away from us.