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Why Fear The Walking Dead Had To Kill Travis Off, According To The Showrunner

fear the walking dead cliff curtis travis season 3 amc
(Image credit: Photo courtesy of AMC)

Fear the Walking Dead has never been shy about killing off important characters, and we lost some major players in the first two seasons. Still, the biggest death to date came in Season 3 when Travis was suddenly and very unexpectedly mortally wounded on a helicopter mid-flight. It was a bold move for Fear the Walking Dead to kill off one of its two leads in an episode that was neither a premiere nor a finale. Showrunner Dave Erickson has spoken out about why Travis died when and where he did, saying this:

Yeah, yes, I think there was a version of the story in which we didn't lose Travis until later. I think one of the positives, and there's certain pros and cons, regardless, but what it forced us to do is really have Madison arrive. . . Kim [Dickens] is number one on the call sheet, and she's always been, in my mind, she's always been our lead and our anchor. From a story perspective, the loss of Travis forced her to double down on the ranch and on this family. On the Ottos, even though there's a lot of ugliness and violence that goes with Troy and as the season progresses, also goes with Jeremiah. But it really forced her hand and made her embrace this place as a home. And she becomes hell-bent on ensuring that it stays that way. So there is that, but yeah, it opened up more story.

For the first two seasons, it did rather seem like Madison and Travis shared the spotlight on Fear the Walking Dead. There was no Rick Grimes type of figure who stood out as the center of the story, and it worked well enough. According to Dave Erickson in his chat with, however, the story for Season 3 really demanded a more focused and determined Madison than we'd seen before, and the loss of Travis was the way to get her character to that point.

We can be pretty sure that the action at the ranch would have gone quite differently if Travis was still around. Madison was a whole other person when she had Travis in her life, and she's undoubtedly changed permanently with his death. She's more determined than ever to protect her loved ones, especially now that her circle of loved ones is smaller than ever before. If anybody thinks of messing with Nick or Alicia in front of Madison ever again, they better make sure there are no spoons handy.

Unfortunately, we have a while to wait before we see Madison back in action. The midseason finale marked the last episode for a couple of months. Fear the Walking Dead will be on hiatus until Sunday, September 10 at 9 p.m. ET. The good news is that fans will be rewarded for the wait. The premiere will be a two-episode event.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest in zombie apocalypse news, and swing by our breakdown of what we know so far about The Walking Dead Season 8 to see what's to come in AMC's other zombie series. Check out our summer TV premiere schedule to see what you can watch while we all wait for more of Fear the Walking Dead on the small screen.

Laura Hurley

Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.