How The Walking Dead Created Denise's Big Moment

Warning: spoilers ahead for the latest episode of The Walking Dead. If you haven't caught the episode, yet, now might be a great time to check out one of our other wonderful articles.

For a show that is notorious for killing off important characters, The Walking Dead still finds ways to surprise. Most of us could probably tell that Denise’s time on the show was limited once she started giving a pep talk about hope to Daryl and Rosita, but an arrow firing out of nowhere and impaling her through the back of her head all the way to her eye was a shocker. According to Denise actress Merritt Wever, the show didn’t even have to get too fancy to pull the shot off.

Something like that for [the Walking Dead] special effects team is probably very small potatoes. I saw other people [get killed off] and it was a lot gorier and more intense. Like when Jessie and the kids died. They fit me for a prosthetic and then placed it over my eye. I had to have one eye closed and then they put the [fake] wounded eye with an arrow sticking out over it. It affected my balance a little bit but that’s about it.

Merritt Wever’s reveal in her chat with TVLine is somewhat unexpected, considering how real her death by an arrow looked in her final episode. It’s a sign of how the special effects team has mastered faking death over the years that they can make even small effects look good.

In hindsight, somebody did have to die in the episode. The signs were all there, and both Denise and Eugene were going out of their ways to declare their independence as survivors in the zombie apocalypse. Something horrible had to happen to one of them by the end of the hour. Unfortunately for the survivors at Alexandria, the something horrible resulted in the death of their only doctor.

Denise's death

Denise being murdered via arrow adds an extra layer of tragedy to her death. Instead of being killed by a bullet or blade, she was killed by a bolt from Daryl’s stolen crossbow. Given that Daryl is the one who didn’t slay Dwight and Daryl is the one who relented and let their scouting group take the short way back to Alexandria, we can probably expect some drama from Daryl in the rest of Season 6. The guy really needs to stop befriending women with ponytails. First Beth, now Denise… stay away, Rosita. Stay away.

Denise dying now does take her out of the running for being the victim of Negan’s iconic moment, and her death via arrow through the eye may have increased the odds of a certain other important character biting the dust by the finale. Given how well The Walking Dead handled Denise’s big moment for Merritt Weaver, we can bet that the next big death with be painfully realistic on screen.

To check out what’s next in the battle between the Alexandrians and the Saviors, be sure to tune in to The Walking Dead at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).