The Walking Dead's Grossest Deaths, Ranked
Spoiler warning for anyone who isn't up to date with The Walking Dead through the start of Season 7.
With its title a pretty big clue about how the balance between the living and the deceased works out, The Walking Dead has probably given TV audiences more dead bodies than any other show in history, and a whole lot of them came into existence in the most horrifically disgusting and sickening ways. Because there are few things more enjoyable than talking about the goriest things that cable networks are allowed to show, here are the grossest deaths in The Walking Dead's run to this point. Grab a raincoat, because it gets pretty wet.
Otis was probably a great guy to people at some point, but his time on The Walking Dead was mired in controversy, beginning with Carl's gunshot wound. It was while on a medical supply run with Shane that Otis met his quick doom, and it was a particularly nasty one. After Shane shot and sacrificed the benevolent farmhand for the "greater good," Otis became snacktime for a huge pack of famished walkers, and they stretched and ripped and chewed the skin on his arms and legs and torso and other places. Perhaps thankfully, viewers was spared several more degrees of awfulness due to Otis' death being filmed in the dark.
Not the only list entry where the grossness involved the onscreen nasties being hoisted up by the emotional trauma inherent to the scene, Lori's death-by-labor was a monumental moment during The Walking Dead's first few seasons. Not only was major lead character getting killed off, but it happened in a way that proved how fragile humans are without proper medical facilities, while also introducing a whole new character to the show. It involved a rare C-section childbirth on a non-medical drama; non-anesthetized, too, for our aural pleasures. And seeing a stomach get cut open doesn't get that much easier on the eyes just because the joy of birth is the result. Carl having to shoot her in the head to stop her from becoming a zombie also didn't help me feel clean again afterward.
One of the few Walking Dead characters who seemed like he might retain his sense of practicality throughout the entirety of the post-apocalypse, Dale did not come equipped with the kind of knowledge that would guarantee his lower torso successfully containing his guts in the event of a zombie attack. No duct tape corsets for this guy. Unlike his comic counterpart, TV Dale got surprised by a walker that Carl had goaded earlier in the episode (but failed to kill), so Dale's lack of intestinal fortitude can be blamed just as much on the younger Grimes as the undead or even Daryl, who actually ended the entrails-lite Dale's life by shooting him in the head.
6. Walker Merle
The death of Human Merle on The Walking Dead involved The Governor biting some of his fingers off, which was pretty gross, but then the Dixon brother got shot, which was not so gross. Walker Merle, however, was part of the super-brutal scene that spawned the infamous Daryl's Ugly Cry meme, in which he arises from a meal of corpse guts and gets put down for good by his depressed sibling. It's the ruthless manner in which Daryl ends Merle's post-life that earns its spot here, as it's carried out through a series of quick and vicious knife-stabs. Straight. To. The. Face. Though we only see the blade plunging into Merle's nasal and eye area a couple of times, that's all it takes. It doesn't even matter that the bloodshed is minimal. Because face stabs.
5. The Terminus Crew
Whenever Rick, Michonne and the rest finally got the upper hand on Gareth and his gang of train-car cannibals, their revenge was quick and not one to cause a blithe reaction. Inside a church, which added to the inherent ferocity of the scene, the protagonists had all of the non-purple people-eaters in disadvantageous positions, and once Rick brings the machete down on Gareth for the first time, an all-out massacre ensues, with the Terminus leader left looking he fumbled a plate of Ragu octopus. Not that it's all about him, since Abraham also beats someone to death with the butt of his gun (with blood hitting the camera lens), and Stabby Sasha comes out to play with Martin. Tyreese, Glenn and Father Gabriel react in the ways that I'm sure many audience members did.
A character whose limp inclusion in The Walking Dead universe was completely worth it for this scene in question, Daniel Bonjour's Aiden Monroe went out as hardcore as anyone has in this show. During a hectic storage warehouse sequence, a grenade explodes and blows Aiden backwards, impaling him on a nearby shelf. He's unable to be taken away from that awful situation, but he doesn't have a lot of time to lament that fact, as his destroyed lower body becomes a hanging buffet for a bunch of hungry walkers. The fact that Aiden caused the explosion himself by shooting the grenade makes it feel like a small-scale Rube Goldberg device of the macabre variety.
Had Abraham's death come in a different episode in the same way it was delivered during the Season 7 premiere, it might have ended up higher on this list somehow, but it was very soon eclipsed. (More on that later.) In any case, as the first of Negan's two victims, Abraham got to die like something of a martyr, whose fate was sealed by the antagonist's rhyme time. But glory or not, his face and skull were bashed in to the point where an explosion at a Smuckers factory would have appeared less goopy in comparison, and the shortened stump on his lain body's shoulders is as haunting as the muscles that are still twitching. Not all gross things can cause the genuine willies, but this was a nice(?) combination.
Of all the iconic images The Walking Dead has delivered over the years, from the bicycle zombie to Carl's eye to Sophia's reveal, it's going to be hard for the show to give us one in Season 7 and beyond that tops Glenn's final moments, in which one part of his head is beaten in to the point where his eye bulges out like an all-seeing tumor. You know exactly what it was like. You saw it. You see it above, and probably with two good eyes. Glenn's death was gross not just for the top quality special effects, but also the emotional blow it dealt to fans and characters. The majority was the eyeball, though, in coordination with all the squelching sounds as Negan kept slamming Lucille down. Even reading "squelching" on the closed captioning felt grosser than normal.
This is the crown jewel that exemplifies the ghastly distance Greg Nicotero and his effects team will go to maximize a familiar character's death on The Walking Dead. After having directly-but-indirectly brought Tyreese to his doom, Noah met his own maker in the most gasp-worthy way: swarmed by walkers that bit and tore him open from behind, with that agonizing money shot of Noah's cheek being stripped away, widening his screaming maw to nightmarish widths. Making it even better/worse is that this annihilation happened as Noah is smooshed against a revolving door's glass pane, putting it on full display. It's almost as if Glenn was, like us, watching Noah's death occurring on a TV screen. I'm glad nobody was around to have to clean all that Noah up off of the floor.
The Walking Dead, which undoubtedly has many more stomach-turning deaths to show us in the future, airs Sunday nights on AMC. Now you can have dinner without the thought of Dale's small intestine flopping around in it. Bon appetit!
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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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