Spoilers below for The Walking Dead comics that coincide with this and future timelines for the TV series, so be warned.
For a character to meet a gruesome death on The Walking Dead, it's as natural as a moth being drawn to a flame or a Savior being drawn to a leather-wearing sadist. Even though the AMC hit has a new showrunner leading the narrative charge, The Walking Dead won't be shying away from major deaths in Season 9. And on top of all the new characters coming in, we can probably expect to see quite a few currently familiar faces being wiped out of existence.
From the news that has already surfaced (such as Andrew Lincoln's big farewell) to the comics that we can use to draw our conclusions, all possibilities are on the table now. So let's take a look at the Walking Dead characters that are most likely to die in horrific situations. Naturally, we'll start with the most surefire pick of the bunch.
Chances of Dying: 99% probability and counting
Why Is It So Likely?: Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes has long been considered one of the only unkillable characters on The Walking Dead, but those assumptions were proven wrong when it was revealed the actor himself chose to exit the show to spend more time with his family. His death wouldn't seem quite as guaranteed had the actor merely been dealing with a scheduling issue, as is the case with Lauren Cohan. And to be fair, Rick might get spared and allowed to live out in the wilderness, never to be found again. But he won't be, because that would be the cheapest move imaginable.
Did It Happen In The Comics?: Rick is still alive and mostly well in the comics, although he has suffered quite a few more permanent injuries than his television counterpart. Perhaps TV Rick could lose a hand before losing his life entirely.
Chances of Dying: 95%
Why Is It So Likely?: Gregory is about as useful to all the other Walking Dead characters as a dry bowl of cereal is to a cow, and that analogy makes as much sense as keeping Gregory on the show for 17 more episodes. To his credit, Xander Berkeley is excellent in the role, and is capable of being as irksome and petty as the role constantly calls for, but I don't see how he even made it through the time jump without Maggie turning him into horse feed.
Did It Happen In The Comics?: That it did, once Gregory finally went too far with his petulance. It's unclear if the TV show will play things out in the same manner, given how ghastly the entire situation was on the page, but I'm pretty sure we'll get some version of it.
Chances of Dying: 85-90%
Why Is It So Likely?: Now that Oceanside is one of the go-to communities in the post-Negan world, we're going to see a handful of those characters more in Season 9. Which almost necessarily means that one of them is going to die before much longer. And, honestly, Beatrice's quasi-victimization here is more process of elimination than anything else. Cyndie probably won't bite it, since her grandmother Natania died last season, and Kathy has even less of a visual presence, so Beatrice it must be.
Did It Happen In The Comics?: Nope, since Beatrice and the rest of the Oceanside women were not part of Robert Kirkman's original Walking Dead narrative. It is possible that her death, should it happen, will be a remixed version of someone else's death from the comics.
Anne / Jadis
Chances of Dying: 80%
Why Is It So Likely?: After two seasons of being the weird woman in the junkyard who sometimes liked to paint naked, Pollyanna McIntosh's character shed her "Jadis" persona and returned to being the artful Anne, who apparently becomes a major player within the group in Season 9. But unless the show immediately starts spinning deeper storytelling with Anne, I think she'll be one of the most expendable main characters in the bunch as the season drives forward. I foresee something going terribly wrong with that helicopter, just when everyone thinks that some form of escape is within grasp; and I hope they show who's actually in the helicopter when that goes down.
Did It Happen In The Comics?: Nope. Jadis is exclusive to the TV show, and doesn't even have a loose comparison from the comics. But she does seem ripe to become one of the Whisperers' first victims, given her particular head shape.
Head to the next page to see the characters who have much better chances of dying this season.
Chances of Dying: 70%
Why Is It So Likely?: The entire Kingdom and its inhabitants were decimated by the Saviors in Season 8, which makes me think the TV show might choose to divert Khary Payton's character from his source material fate. Then again, Ezekiel and Carol are soon meant to be taking their romantic entanglement to the next level, and we all know what happens to people that Carol shows deep affection for. They either become zombie food, or they're a bafflingly misguided young girl named Lizzie. Ezekiel could be the exception to the rule there, but I still expect him to soon join Shiva in the afterlife.
Did It Happen In The Comics?: Yes, it did. And it was truly one of the most shocking and unsettling deaths, from the brutality of it to the fact that readers only witnessed it after the fact.The show will probably want to retain that powerful image, too.
Chances of Dying: 50-60%
Why Is It So Likely?: It's no coincidence that the main youthful elements about The Walking Dead these days are Enid and Judith (who might finally get to develop a personality in Season 9), with Henry not doing all that much to shake up the overall dynamic. He's the lone survivor in his family, he no longer has Morgan around to offer fleeting advice about not murdering everyone, and he's presumably going to have Carol as a surrogate mother in Season 9. [See Ezekiel entry for Carol proximity woes.] Granted, his chances of dying might actually be a little higher if the semi-cursed Morgan were still there protecting him, but I still don't see Henry surviving long enough to take on all of Carl's arcs from this point in the comic books.
Did It Happen In The Comics?: No, Henry was never specifically a comic character. Many of the other teen boys within the comic narrative were used as foils to have conflicts with Carl, with none of them matching up with Henry's personality.
Chances of Dying: 50%
Why Is It So Likely?: While she sometimes appears to be Daryl's partner-in-renegade-revenge-schemes, Rosita is something of a lone wolf on the screen, and it's always easiest to kill off the characters that don't majorly disrupt other elements. And at this point, Rosita has surpassed the potential of her comic iteration and stands up wholly on her own. But because being on the front line puts a bigger target on Rosita's back, I expect for her to be strategically taken out of the picture in Season 9 by some antagonistic force that also has to suffer some consequences. (And it'd be cool if she got to drag Eugene's face through a toilet trough, too.)
Did It Happen In The Comics?: Rosita did indeed get murdered in the comics, as part of the Whisperers' first big sign of monstrousness, but Comic Rosita and Comic Eugene were in a troubled relationship that added uncomfortable layers to that death. Without the romance element in the TV show, Rosita might just be spared.
Chances of Dying: Less than 50%
Why Is It So Likely?: While I think most of the free world would agree that Jeffrey Dean Morgan is an energetic beast of a performer, the response to his flagrantly foul villain Negan has been polarized. Negan will be a changed man while locked up in a makeshift jail cell for Season 9, and though he'll presumably get free at some point, no one should keep JDM locked up in the dark. And I think if the Whisperers' arc follows the source material closely enough, then there would be a perfectly fitting time to kill Negan off and further separate The Walking Dead's two continuities. It just has to actually go through with it.
Did It Happen In The Comics?: Negan is currently MIA in the comic books, but he is definitely still alive and breathing and saying "fuck" a lot. AMC's drama could always do the same thing by taking him away for a while, since it's presumably also doing the same with Lauren Cohan's Maggie, but I think fans deserve some finality in that respect.