The Walking Dead's season finales tend to be rather bloody, and with the cheerfully violent Negan now fully established as the main threat to Alexandria, that's only likely to intensify as the show creeps closer to the final offering of season 7. War is on the horizon, and with the majority of the good guys now on board with Rick's plan of attack, it's only a matter of time before the death toll starts rising. Although character deaths are an inevitability on The Walking Dead, far less certain are the identities of those who will be biting the dust before the final credits roll on this season.
Naturally, some characters can be ruled out fairly conclusively. Rick is plot-armored heavier than a German tank, Daryl's popularity would make killing him off an almost guaranteed blow to ratings, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan has been confirmed as appearing in the upcoming eighth season. Others' futures are far less set in stone, however, and this motley crew may well be meeting their maker sooner rather than later.
Poor Sasha has had a tough time, even by zombie apocalypse standards. Her brother Tyreese was killed suddenly, and Sasha's newfound romantic interest Bob was killed not long after the two paired up. Having finally moved past those tragedies, Sasha set her sights on Abraham - and, after a brief fling, he too was killed. Unsurprisingly, Sasha doesn't appear to be in a healthy state of mind right now and viewers most recently saw her hatching a kamikaze plan with Rosita to assassinate Negan - thereby cutting the head off the snake. When two characters openly admit to their plan being utterly suicidal in such a way, at least one death becomes virtually guaranteed. Rosita has certainly been on a path of self-destruction since Abraham's death, and she too could be a prime contender for an early grave before season 8.
But whilst Rosita's character arc perhaps has a little more development to go through - especially if the comic story line is taken into consideration - it's difficult to say the same about Sasha. There's only so much grief one person can go through, and Sasha's barely-contained rage bubbling beneath the surface is perhaps an indication that the character herself is ready to let go. Simply put, there seems to be little more The Walking Dead can do with Sasha other than keeping her around as an extra fighter, and the promo clip for next week's episode only seems to confirm the possibility of a departure.
Meanwhile, in the real world, the actress behind Sasha - Sonequa Martin-Green - has recently been cast in a starring role as part of the new Star Trek series, Star Trek: Discovery. Although the official word has suggested the actress will juggle the two roles simultaneously, the practical problems of having two sizeable roles in major TV shows are significant and the casting only adds to the feeling that Sasha's time might just be up.
Having his stick kidnapped for a while seems to have had a very negative effect on Morgan, and The Walking Dead's most recent episode saw the character break his long-held, often frustrating, pacifist stance as he brutally strangled Richard to death. The final shot of the episode - Morgan sharpening his famous weapon - arguably confirmed the character's intentions to drop his Akido-led morals and become a stone-hearted killer just like everyone else in the show.
Morgan's continued determination to not kill other humans has arguably become more annoying than engaging at this stage, and his decision to fight the Saviors instead of pacifying them could represent the final stage of this character's arc. The character didn't stick around this long in the comic series, and although that's far from a kiss of death given how much the television adaptation deviates from its source material, it is perhaps an indication that once Morgan has rampaged through the Saviors and got more blood on his hands that can be washed off, he'll have outlived his purpose in the show.
It's also worth noting that, like Sonequa Martin-Green, Morgan's actor Lennie James has recently been cast in a brand new show: Sky Atlantic's Gone. Although not as sizeable an undertaking as Star Trek: Discovery, James has also landed a part in the forthcoming Blade Runner 2049, suggesting that even if the character does survive to the end of season seven, he most likely won't be around much longer after that.
Carol Peletier has had an odd trajectory this season. After making the transformation from unassuming housewife to bona fide angel of death, Carol abruptly decided that she couldn't continue to kill other living humans and, since being around Alexandria would undoubtedly involve doing just that, she elected to live a life of solitude away from her friends. Recent developments in 'Bury Me Here' have seen Carol return to the fray, reluctantly joining the fight once she heard about Negan's murder of Glenn and Abraham, and it's very possible that Miss. Peletier's inevitable upcoming massacre might just be her final stand.
During an emotional scene with Daryl in 'New Best Friends', Carol claimed that if the Saviors had hurt any Alexandrians, she'd resume her violent path. However, she also stated that in such an event, there wouldn't be anything left of her afterwards. It seems unlikely that Carol will be given her 'happily ever after' once the dust settles on the battle against Negan, and whether her demise comes before or after the end of season 7 is the real point of contention. There's little doubt that Carol will play a huge part in Rick's fight against the Saviors and that will likely be her final meaningful action on the show.
Carol's character arc has been a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs varying between different levels of brutality but there's only so long a character can realistically keep dipping in and out of the main group between violence and pacifism. Carol's potential death would be fantastic for galvanizing Rick's group - Daryl in particular - in the battle to come and would add an even more personal edge to proceedings.
Ever since Dwight was introduced in season six, The Walking Dead has teased the character's inner turmoil. He doesn't want to work for Negan of course (the leather-clad maniac melted half of his face and then shacked up with his wife), but after a botched escape attempt, Dwight seemingly accepted that working with the tyrant was the only way to survive. Given his situation, viewers - especially those familiar with the comic series - would be forgiven for thinking that Dwight might just betray his current leader in the near future and align himself with the Alexandria, Hilltop and Kingdom allegiance.
However, it feels as if Dwight still needs something to push him over the edge, a straw to break the back of a certain camel, and the death of his beloved Sherry may well be that final spark. Such a move would represent a deviation from the comic series - in which Sherry survives and goes on to make some very questionable decisions indeed - and it's also entirely possible that after she ran away from the Sanctuary earlier in the season, viewers will never see Sherry again.
But the tension surrounding Dwight's character needs a release sooner rather than later and Sherry's death would provide The Walking Dead with the perfect opportunity to have Dwight finally turn on Negan. Such an event would have even more of an impact if she was killed at the hands of the Saviors themselves, perhaps as a punishment for running away, but even a generic zombie-death might be enough to convince Dwight to start working for the good guys.
Steven Ogg's Simon has been one of Negan's more entertaining henchmen, but before season 7 comes to a conclusion The Walking Dead needs to establish Rick's forces as a viable threat, so as to set up a tasty - and reasonably even-sided - conflict in time for next season. For that, some Saviors will have to die too. Simon's demise wouldn't just represent a significant dent in Negan's army but would also make for a compelling slice of narrative symmetry.
At the outset of season 7, Negan made a big point of depriving Rick of his "right hand man," leading to the deaths of both Abraham and Glenn. It would be interesting if the season concluded with Rick returning the favor. Negan previously declared Simon to be his own right hand man, so Rick is fully aware of the character's importance to Negan's group. Killing Simon would constitute a major statement of intent from the leader of Alexandria and although it would be a shame not to have Steven Ogg romping around town in season eight, the sacrifice would certainly benefit the plot going forward.
The Walking Dead continues on March 19th with 'The Other Side' on AMC.