Why The Walking Dead Had To Kill Off Glenn, According To Robert Kirkman

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Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't watched The Walking Dead's season premiere and also managed to go this long without finding anything out.

In the months leading up to The Walking Dead's seventh season, one of the biggest debates was whether or not the TV show would be faithful to the comic book in respect to Negan's first victim. Creator Robert Kirkman and showrunner Scott Gimple did throw fans off by making Abraham the first to meet Lucille, but it wasn't long before the inevitable happened and Glenn also met his comic fate, complete with that meme-ready bulging eye. Kirkman spoke out about why Glenn did indeed have to die in live-action as well.

It's just that there's a lot of material that comes from Glenn's death in the comics. And while we do try to change things up to keep things interesting for the audience, and for me, this is one that there's so much that comes from Rick, there's so much with Negan, because that character is someone that he killed, and definitely Maggie is someone that kind of gets put on the trajectory that affects a great number of stories and a great number of characters moving forward. So it was kind of essential that that part of the scene at least remained intact, unfortunately.

Because TV fans don't like to think about the pragmatics that go into making a series, it's easy for many to rail on writers and producers for decisions made, but this is definitely a case in which it should be pretty obvious to everyone why things played out as they did, especially now that Robert Kirkman has laid it all out so plainly. The reason why Glenn's death was such a massive event in The Walking Dead comics, both within the relevant issue and beyond, is because of how much people loved the character and how far-flung the effects were when he was no longer around. It would have been extremely hard, if not impossible, to create anything similar for TV. Plus, we needed to see this comparison shot.

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Viewers who aren't familiar with the comics can't possibly grasp the entirety of what's to come in The Walking Dead's future, and how drastically different Glenn's survival would have made it all. The biggest departure would have involved Maggie, whose post-Glenn life easily eclipses the time when they were together, as far as her strength and abilities are concerned. She has a lot of story coming up, both on The Hilltop and off, that would have been robbed from actress Lauren Cohan if Steven Yeun was still around as her faux hubby. Sure, a possible complementary angle could have been worked out if Maggie had died instead - and Cohan's stomach-churning death scene was both filmed and leaked - but that would have still meant massive restructuring.

To spin some hyperbole out of this, asking to change Glenn's death would have been like asking Mark Burnett to change The Bible's miniseries sequel A.D. so that it killed someone else instead of Jesus. Or like taking a long look at the Grand Canyon and asking the Colorado River to pick up and move over to the east a few hundred miles. And then probably getting mad at both for whatever changes they came up with. But apparently some major thought went into trying to conceive how such a mega-switch would work. Here's what else Kirkman told EW.

We did discuss options. At the end of the day, we were like, pulling the thread on this sweater just pulls too many things apart and it's too difficult to get back on that trajectory without that death.

While I will absolutely miss Glenn and the energy that Steven Yeun brought to the often dour show, I can't imagine that iconic moment ending any other way than in the former delivery boy a bloodied husk of his former self. The Walking Dead will be back to give us some of those ramifications of Glenn's death on Sunday nights on AMC. (If you want to see that epic scene in LEGO form, head here and expect to still be disturbed.) To see what else is coming to the small screen, check out our fall TV schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.