Spoilers below for The Walking Dead Episode 1016, so be warned!
Though his loyalty was a little shifty during his early days as Team Family's most faithful member, Seth Gilliam's Father Gabriel went on to become as empowered and resilient a leader as anyone else. Despite that development evolution, however, Gabriel still manages to find himself in dangerous situations that immediately cause fans to believe that he's getting killed off. The same went for the long-delayed Episode 1016, "A Certain Doom," whose trailers teased Gabriel being outnumbered by a group of Whisperers.
Thankfully, Maggie and her masked friend arrived without a second to spare and put down the Whisperer threats without any permanent harm coming to Father Gabriel. But that just means fans are going to be that much more paranoid that he's going to bite the big one in one of the remaining six episodes that Season 10 will debut in 2021. When CinemaBlend spoke with Seth Gilliam ahead of the revealing Episode 1016 airing, I asked how he felt about fans constantly assuming that Gabriel's death is imminent, and he told me:
In this case, I'm going to try to not give the people what they want. I'm gonna hang around this baby by my bare nails.
For what it's worth, audiences aren't necessarily being malicious when thinking that Father Gabriel is going to die, even if there have been certain times during The Walking Dead's run where Gabriel's actions did indeed piss fans off. Part of the issue is that Gabriel died in such a horrific and singular manner in the comic book, which happened during the first half of the Whisperer War arc, so Season 10 definitely felt like a prime time to make it happen, though the war is now over with Beta's gruesome death. Another element to consider is that The Walking Dead has put Seth Gilliam's holy man into a wide variety of life-threatening situations that non-marquee characters certainly would have died in. Nothing quite as flagrant as the Glenn fake-out, mind you, but Gabriel has still had some insanely lucky saves.
Fans aren't entirely alone in worrying about Father Gabriel's fate, either, as Seth Gilliam feels that paranoia quite acutely. When I asked if there are times where he's nervous about Gabriel's death coming, the actor said that's definitely the case. Despite showrunner Angela Kang and EP Scott Gimple almost always reaching out to stars ahead of time to break the news, there's still that innate anxiety. In his words:
Oh, yes, yes. Reading the scripts are always very tense because, you know, you'll have a conversation with Angela or Scott, whichever the case may be, about when your demise is coming. But they don't really tell you when. They'll be like, 'This is gonna be the final season for so-and-so.' And I guess the call comes to each actor individually, and they hold onto it themselves. But I read the scripts thinking, 'Well, is this what she meant by things can change? Are things changing? Am I reading the change right now?' So there's always a good deal of tension when reading the script. That's what makes it exciting, because I feel like I'm reading them the way the audience is watching. 'Is this the moment?' Because if he's put in so many precarious positions, and he's shown any kind of weakness or hesitancy, then the audience is aware of that. They're aware it could pop up again at the most inopportune moment for you. They've put that that kind of moment – they've built it in, it seems to me – with most of the characters on the show, so there's always the element of this could be their final moment.
From a math perspective, there are only 30 episodes left for The Walking Dead to kill off Father Gabriel. Considering he's lived through around 90 episodes of the series so far, making it through another couple dozen installments hopefully won't be an impossibility. But if it is, I hope it happens in a way that absolutely no one could have seen coming. Spontaneous combustion, perhaps.