Spoilers below for elements from The Walking Dead comic book that come far later than where the TV series is currently set, though we all know how that goes. Be warned.
13 episodes and five months later, The Walking Dead Season 7 still hasn't quite escaped the shadow of its premiere, in which fan favorites Glenn and Abraham were brutally put to pasture by Negan. Glenn's death in particular remains THE hallmark moment from Robert Kirkman's comic series, but there's one Walking Dead actor whose on-the-page character death has been self-touted as being worse than Glenn's, in a sense. And that actor is Seth Gilliam, whose Father Gabriel relatively recently met a most drawn-out and devastating demise. Here's what he said about having the big moment revealed to him.
There were two 13-year-old kids who came over, so eager to show me this thing. I was like, 'Oh, that's bad. Oh, that's bad! It's not over? He what? Breaks his ankle ,then he gets his throat cut or he gets his stomach slit. Then he gets fed to the bone!' That's a hardcore way to go. I think it's actually a more dramatic death than Glenn's, though Glenn trying to gurgle out Maggie with the bat is hardcore. But I think hanging upside...and having The Whisperers or whatever. . . . Comes out of nowhere.
None of Father Gabriel's initial untrustworthiness is coming out of Seth Gilliam in making those claims there, as Father Gabriel's comic book death was indeed about as hardcore as it gets for anyone within The Walking Dead universe. And there's no denying that he believes the character's multi-tiered doom was a more effectively harrowing way to die than Negan treating Glenn's skull like a Whack-a-Mole game. It's hard to go back and think about Glenn dying only in the context of the comics, without all those squelching noises heard on TV, though I'd have to imagine that if Scott Gimple & Co. ever do get around to presenting Gabriel's death in live-action, either faithfully or using another character, it will be just as sickening to watch as the Glenn and Abraham Incident was.
But I'm not so sure that the dramatic effect of Gabriel's comic death works quite as well as Glenn's did, since Negan's arrival had ample anticipation and residual angst going for it, combined with the unpredictability of what would happen. Similarly, it was impossible to predict that Gabriel would become a victim of shitty footing, a deadly villain AND a pack of walkers whenever that happened, but its timing didn't feel as earned or as welcomely random as others. Even though the agonizing sequence lasted multiple pages and wasn't mysterious or cryptic in nature, it still caused an immediate back-pedaling to confirm it actually happened, and many fans were soured on it; though not all, of course.
Regardless of whose death is "really" the worst or the most gut-suckingly awful or whatever, the irrefutable element here is that this particular death (or something in the same vein, given the creative remixing process) could definitely offer The Walking Dead its most memorable cold open of all time. As well as making that many more people nervous to use ladders. And in case you're wondering, the actor also told ComicBook.com that he thinks it would be a stellar way to get killed off the show.
That's like three deaths in one. I don't know how I would play it. I would definitely lose my voice before the throat was cut but I think that would be the coolest way Father Gabriel could go.
With no telling if or when we'll ever get to see TV's Father Gabriel end up in the precarious position that his comic counterpart bowed out in, you'll definitely see him in The Walking Dead's final two episodes of Season 7, airing over the next two Sundays on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET. Head to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer TV guide to see what else is on the way to the small screen this year.