If you’re watching The Walking Dead on a regular basis, you’re not doing so because you’re expecting to see characters surviving until the end of time. As weird as it is, one of the show’s biggest draws is the way in which almost no character is safe, and how it feeds on the majority of its viewers’ love of shocking and surprising deaths. That’s not the easiest thing to do when a show is in its sixth season, but The Walking Dead is definitely still on top of its game in that department, as last week’s episode definitely proved. Or didn’t prove.
Here are the 10 most shocking deaths over the course of the past 5 years of The Walking Dead, with the word “shocking” meaning just that. This isn’t about the grossest or the most heartbreaking deaths. These are the moments that seemingly came completely out of left field, for both those of us who obsess over the comics and those who are TV purists alone. Spoilers abound, folks.
When he jumped from Grady Memorial Hospital over the Rick’s group, it seemed like The Walking Dead had brought one of the more intelligent survivors over to the main stage, especially as his character’s relatively basic arc saw him showing an interest in engineering and how Reg and his safe haven neighbors put together the walls surrounding Alexandria. But knowledge was not power for Noah, as he became yet another victim of Nicholas’ cowardly negligence, and he was torn apart inside a revolving door. The fact that anyone died inside a revolving door is a shock in itself.
Now, comic fans knew that Shane wasn’t long for this post-apocalyptic world, and TV viewers had to have picked up on that fact as well, as the hard-nosed bastard was basically the show’s first Big Bad in terms of villains. And while Rick wasn’t quite the screw-loose leader he would later become after countless tragedies, it was clear that he wasn’t meant to be fucked with forever. Still, it seemed like the show would continue to build up the tense quadrangle between Shane and Rick’s family (or pentagon, if you considered Lori’s pregnancy), but Rick couldn’t have it, and he surprisingly murdered Shane in cold blood near the end of Season 2. We didn’t even have to wait long to see Walker Shane try and get revenge, but he died too.
To me, Dale remains one of the only Walking Dead characters that I would have wanted to hang around with for a while. He had a multi-faceted head on his shoulders, and while his quasi-fatherly affection for Andrea and Amy was a little creepy, he was a good guy. Which is why it was so much of a gut-punch when he randomly ended up getting his intestines yanked out of his body by a walker that Carl allowed to roam free, because that’s just how Carl rolled in those days. (All days, really.) It would have been one thing had he died quickly and on the spot, but there was a brief talk about saving him before Daryl takes it upon himself to shoot Dale. I guess no one could really live being THAT disemboweled, but it would have been nice for him to try, dammit.
Arguably the worst storyline in The Walking Dead at this point was the drawn-out Season 2 plot where everyone was looking for Carol’s daughter Sophia. Though I immediately suspected her to be dead, the fact that everyone kept the hung going caused me to change my tune, and I thought maybe she’d been kidnapped by someone that would become a threat to the group. But no, she was unceremoniously killed off by a walker while trying to sleep. Admittedly, it wasn’t her actual death that made for the shocking moment here, but the fact that Walker Sophia was actually inside of Hershel’s barn while everyone was looking for her, and her emergence from the barn doors was worth a gasp that lasted all the way up until Rick shot her back down.
One of the only characters in this show whose arc diverted from the good guys to the bad guys, Andrea had worn her welcome out by the time she got infatuated with The Governor. But the show made it seem like she’d redeemed herself in realizing there would never be peace between Woodbury and anyone else. Plus, she had all of her comic storylines to get to! Even as she was strapped to a chair inside a room with Walker Milton, I was certain she would escape somehow. But I’m obviously not the best person to make predictions about this show, because she indeed got bit and then chose to kill herself to avoid becoming a walker. It wasn’t an unwelcome death by any means, but a shocking one all the same.
A fan favorite from the comics, Tyreese was a welcome presence when he joined Rick’s group in Season 3, even though he spent a lot of time not actually traveling with the group as a whole. Still, he was the quietly tortured soul that seemed as if he might be a solid backbone for the survivor core for years to come. But as is the case with many of these characters, he ended up getting bitten while trying to help someone else – in this case, Noah, who wanted to return to his family home – and his death sequence is arguably the most powerful one yet, as it featured hallucinations involving many of the show’s dead characters. His bitten arm is amputated, providing the slightest bit of hope that he would continue on. Alas, he died and temporarily caused his sister Sasha to lose her mind.
Let’s be honest: nobody really gave a crap about Lizzie as a character. There was sympathy for her and sister Mika, as they were orphans living with a bunch of strangers, but she wasn’t about to become Carol 2.0 or anything. She was interesting in that she looked at the walkers somewhat sympathetically and rather unlike anyone else did, which led to her stabbing Mika to death, an act that was mind-bogglingly fucked up on its own. When this was discovered, there was no trial by a jury of Lizzie’s peers to see how she should be handled. Carol takes it upon herself to play executioner and puts a surprising end to Lizzie after uttering the now iconic words, “Just look at the flowers.” It was something of a turning point for the show, and one that it could never step back from.
While I was never particularly a big fan of Lori over the years, it’s undeniable that she remains one of The Walking Dead’s most important characters, as her death still weighs heavily on Rick and Carl, as well as Baby Judith, who just doesn’t know it yet. No one expected a pregnant Lori to die, and I can’t imagine that many people assumed that she would die right after having the baby. But it was Judith’s birth that sealed Lori’s fate, as the emergency amateur C-section caused Lori to bleed too much to be saved. But it was her death by Carl and his gun that was the biggest shock of this situation, as a boy should never be made to kill his own mother, much less volunteer to do it. Her death was such a blow that she remained stuck inside Rick’s head (and telephones) for several episodes after.
Hershel went from being a stodgy farm owner to one of the show’s best characters in just a season or so, as his depression from seeing members of his family die – coupled with other hardships both physical and emotional – hardened into a dry sense of humor and an understandably wavering sense of morals. Though he started out as a combatant against Rick’s ways of the world, he soon becomes Rick’s right-hand (or leg) man, and he would have been a welcome presence for years to come. And even when it looked like both he and Michonne were doomed victims of The Governor, it seemed possible that Rick or Daryl or someone would put bullets into that evil bastard’s head before he could do any mortal damage. And then came that sickening thwack as the sword cut into Hershel’s neck, and his soon-disembodied zombie head proved once again that major characters are never safe.
Oh, this Greene family. A character on the show for four seasons before reaching her end, Beth had a late-days storyline that sort of resembled the Sophia narrative, in which she went missing for several episodes, and Daryl and Carol spent the most time looking for her. But instead of just being a zombie, Beth was in the middle of a new location: a hospital run by Dawn, a cop without a real clue of how to handle the post-apocalypse. Considering how much character build-up Beth got before going missing – I think there are still people out there who begrudge the show for not having her and Daryl hook up at least a dozen times – she was assumedly destined for better days ahead. It wasn’t even obvious that Beth was going to die until the very second the front of her face went through the back of her head, thus making this the most shocking death in the series so far.
Unless…well, just head to the next page.
Bonus Entry: Glenn
Because The Walking Dead’s creative team is still playing coy about the fate of everyone’s favorite former pizza delivery boy, we’re not quite sure what’s actually up with Glenn’s supposed death. If he is dead, then he would easily take the top spot on this list, as there was no way for anyone to assume that he would get killed off before Negan joined the show, even if he and Negan didn’t eventually share their mortifyingly iconic moment from the comics. It’s fucking Glenn, and he’s just not supposed to die like that. Nicholas, on the other hand, was a sure-shot for death almost every time he appeared on screen, so there was no surprise that he died. But Glenn…man, that will be the hardest one to take if it’s true. Sadly, we might not even figure that out for another few weeks.
Honorable Mentions: Reg, That Rapist Dude Who Got Bitten And Stabbed By Rick, Bob, Pete, Merle
Let us know on the next page who you think the most shocking death on the show was. To be fair, we’re not putting Glenn on the poll.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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