Before moving onto more Season 4 details, it’s also important to take a minute or two to mourn the loss of some of our favorite characters. Showrunners aren’t the only ones getting killed off onThe Walking Dead. At least comic book creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman is honest about it saying that "it’s eventually coming for everybody." David Morrissey, who has his fair share of experience dealing death as The Governor, adds that “if people didn’t die, you’d start not believing in the world. The show is about that. And I think one of the tenets the show has with the audience is that no one is safe."
But, to use a phrase from the table, it’s never mindless, with the actor explaining how the show is “asking very logical questions about survival in this world and one of the logical conclusions is that people are going to die. And the people you love are going to die. That’s it. And we work from that logic all the time. If we didn’t have that the show would cease to have the magic that it has." With popular characters like Andrea and Merle both biting it last season, Gimple also wanted to ensure that the fans know “it’s horrible to sit in front of the keyboard and write those scenes cause you’re losing too. You lose somebody you enjoy working with, you lose somebody who you’ve possibly known for years and on top of that you lose the character you love seeing on TV."
He does, however, appreciate the bond that is created with the audience when everyone shares in the pain. “I think it kind of makes it cool that we pay a price too. That it is painful on many levels and it’s amazing to be writing that moment, crossing that line on the page and then the ugliness of having to deal with it is a very weird thing." Well aware he’s at Comic-Con, Morrissey makes the connection all nerds were waiting for by saying what he "loved about this show as a viewer was that it’s not the Star Trek thing where they beam down to the planet and you’ve got four guys you already know and then there’s one guy and it’s ‘I don’t think he’s gong to be safe.’"
The wounds are obviously still festering for some since "sympathetic loss" were the words Reedus used to describe the tone of the upcoming season. He did lose a brother after all. "I don’t know if he’s over it but, you know, he thought his brother was already gone until we got to Woodbury and heard he was there. He sort of accepted it without wanting to before then." Reedus then echoes something Carol noted on the show, how “with Merle away, Daryl became his own man in a lot of ways." And death certainly isn’t anything new for the characters, saying “To lose him again, it hurts but being in this world, this long, there’s also that they’re losing people all the time. So it’s understandable and painful but he grew up a lot in one episode."
Nicotero laments losing not just a great character in Merle but also Michael Rooker and the fantastic chemistry the actors developed working together over several seasons. To make his point, Nicotero cites a tender moment late last season where Daryl touches his brother’s arm “and that wasn’t in the script, that was just something these guys did when they were rehearsing and I was like, that’s fucking awesome." He continued to praise his actors, “I love what these guys bring to their characters and they know their characters better than anyone else on the planet. Norman and I talk about the little nuances that he throws in Daryl that are things that people respond to and he really adds those layers."
Rooker was so invested in Merle that he even fought with Nicotero over the infamous missed shot, insisting that his character would have killed the Governor. He adds that fans can hear it for themselves on the Season 3 DVD, “Michael and I did commentary on that episode and we get in an argument about it. ‘I would never miss that shot, I hate the way this is edited.’" While it seems like Rooker has chosen denial, there are many other ways the actors and their characters have (and will) handle loss. Lauren Cohan (Maggie) points to "a spirituality, a faith" and Scott Wilson (Hershel) adds that the "entire group are survivors." For him, even those that didn’t make it this far, like Andrea and Merle, they "were also survivors, they did survive beyond what could be expected. There’s a warrior spirit, I believe, to everyone in this show."
On top of their strength as individuals, Wilson is sure to also stress that "when characters go through those traumas, the group is so tight knit that they helps keep everyone pulled together. Helps mend them and prepare for the next one." And like the producers said, there’s always going to be a next one, with death coming for everybody. Some people twice! The bottom line is that is what The Walking Dead is about, life and death as well as the shifting definition of both. Gimple explains that "how do those stakes change you? How does that change the person you are? And if it does just turn out to be just survival than is that living? How does that make you, you? How does that change your identity?"