The Walking Dead is an emotional journey about overcoming hardships and building a life from the bottom up – a life that can be ripped away at any point. It’s about people, and how humanity can evolve under terrible circumstances. Creator Robert Kirkman has himself joked that The Walking Dead is a “goofy soap opera”, adding, “I’m a firm believer that, you know, Stephanie Meyer is to Bram Stoker as Robert Kirkman is to George Romero.” But it’s a lot more than that. The drama is powerful, and although it can get a little melodramatic at times, it’s easy to stomach knowing another great kill is just around the corner.
Arguably, the fun of the show is really in knowing that anyone can die. We root for the survival of our favourites, and cheer on the deaths of our villains (or anyone we happen to dislike for one reason or another). We might even try to make guesses about who will live and who will die, and theorize about how characters will get themselves out of life-threatening scenarios. Actually, it’s all a little gruesome. But that doesn’t make it any less fun. This list is a tribute to karma. All of the deserved deaths and hardships are compiled here to remind us that it’s not just the beloved Glenns and Abrahams that fall; sometimes, characters get exactly what they deserve.
The truth is, Lori was annoying and unreasonable, and most viewers couldn’t wait for her to just be dead already. However, her traumatic and emotional exit from the show (she died after an unsanitary and hasty c-section) made it so that the audience didn’t exactly cheer the way they may have thought they would have. Instead, it might have been her one sympathetic moment. Ultimately, the woman was having a pretty tough go at things. She was trying to rebuild a marriage that had long ago disintegrated, all the more complicated by her relationship with Shane and having to keep tabs on a kid like Carl. Oh, and did we mention the walkers and lack of electricity? But once the dust settled on her last scene, we were all pretty relieved. We can make all the excuses for her we want, but at the end of the day – how does one crash a car on an empty road?!
When Daryl first attached himself to the Claimers, the group was not all that appealing. There was also nothing about them that suggested we should have expected them to become key players in the series. They seemed like a convenient means for Daryl to cover ground while secretly looking for Beth and the others. Functioning more like a gang than a family, there were only two rules among the Claimers – no stealing from each other, and no lying. When the Claimers finally found Rick, whom they’d been hunting without Daryl realizing, things rapidly escalated. The brutality of the Claimers reached a new level when one tried to force himself on Carl, and it is this moment at which Rick realizes it is now a kill or be killed world, and there’s no use fighting it. In a visual akin to a walker attack, Rick ripped out Joe’s throat with his teeth. It was a shocking moment, even for Rick.
Andrea was wildly unlikable. It may have been one of the show’s biggest failings (and there aren’t many of them) to portray a woman who was outspokenly feminist as entirely incapable of taking care of herself. Demanding a gun to play with the big boys rather than do laundry – fine. Whining that no one will trust you with responsibilities you haven’t earned – argh. Claiming to be able to handle the responsibility of a gun and then accidentally shooting Daryl – REALLY?! Andrea was endlessly frustrating, and was lucky to survive as long as she did. Having been found by Michonne was the best thing that could have happened to her, and she still managed to mess it up by getting involved with the very sketchy Governor. But making bad decisions in the zombie-apocalypse will usually lead to death, so Andrea’s fate was in jeopardy. Having to pull the trigger on herself was a befitting end to her character.
If there is one thing The Walking Dead has been consistent about, it’s that pacifism = death. The world is a dark and violent place, and you either get on board with that, or you die. Tyreese had the physical makings of a badass survivor; he was large and sturdy with what one would imagine to be brute force. But his personality did not match. He was a horrible shot, violence made him very uncomfortable, and the chaos around him quickly proved to be too much. By the end, he was unwilling (and unable) to do much to protect himself or anyone else. Most frustrating was watching him struggle to gain the courage to protect Judith from Allen, who immediately called Tyreese on his weakness. When Tyreese finally made a move against Allen, he didn’t even finish the job! His death was presented as a tragedy, but really – it was time for him to go.
This should be premised with the very obvious statement that it is never preferred that children die. However, if we are being entirely honest about life in the zombie-apocalypse, children are very problematic. They need to be protected, and fed, and there isn’t always a lot they can contribute in return. This is especially true if they are psychologically unstable. It is completely understandable that a child could have trouble making sense of life, death, and violence in such an environment. And it was almost admirable of her to not just digest what she was told, but to think critically about things and question them. Almost. Where this quickly fell apart was when it became clear that she was delusional, unreasonable, and dangerous. Murdering one’s little sister – that’s a big no-no. Given that Lizzie was completely unaware of her deteriorating mental state, she was given a necessary but non-brutal death, courtesy of Carol.
Aiden (along with Nicholas) was the rarity whereby a character that is not technically a villain is immediately portrayed as to be disliked. When Glenn, Noah, and Tara headed out with them on the first shared run, Aiden made it clear that he was in charge and expected to be obeyed. He treated the newcomers as though they didn’t know anything about the big, scary, world – despite the fact that they had just been in it, and for much longer than Aiden ever had been. It was condescending and maddening. Especially since we soon after found out that Aiden and Nicholas weren’t good at runs anyway – they had gotten people killed, and were wasting time “punishing” walkers for it. When Glenn had to save them from their own failed walker hostage, Aiden was anything but grateful. Seeing Glenn knock him down with one punch was pretty sweet. But better yet, not long after, Aiden was killed by walkers (because of his own stupidity, no less).
Dawn was a wretched excuse for a leader. She and the other law enforcers at the hospital would find and save people, only to enslave them. What made Dawn even worse was that she knew what she was doing was wrong, but didn’t bother to be active about making changes. She toggled between playing leader and playing victim, whenever one role best suited her. Can you say “manipulative”? It was really great to see that Beth did not fall for her malicious attempts to gain her trust. Beth had for so long been a rather mousy background character, and separating her from the group gave her a chance to grow a lot in a very short time-span. Of course, that was a bit of a waste, since she foolishly used her new found moxie to stab Dawn in the shoulder. It earned Beth a shocking bullet to the head, but at least it resulted in Daryl taking Dawn down.
8. The Governor
During season three, The Governor became the series’ largest threat to date. It was the first time the group encountered a human villain. This meant, for the first time, they would be forced to strategize, fight, and go to war with an organized enemy. That they were new to this was painfully obvious, and watching them struggle to agree on plans and then fail miserably, got a little repetitive. Viewers grew annoyed with The Governor plot-line, but it finally came to a harrowing end in season four. It was worth the wait. We were all so sick of The Governor, who had become more frighteningly delusional overtime, that watching him die was all the more satisfying than it would have been back in season three. Michonne was given the honour of slashing him, but that did not turn out to be the death blow. Instead, a final shot to the head was delivered by one of his own, whom he had grossly betrayed.
Gregory is definitely a character we are not supposed to like, and the show makes this painfully obvious by fashioning him after an Antebellum plantation owner. His over-the-top arrogance is cringe-worthy, and even makes him feel a bit like a caricature. He is not trustworthy, he is dishonest, and he is entirely disinterested in the people he leads. This last point is probably his biggest failure, and his Achilles heel. In recent episodes, we have seen how quickly his followers have responded to a stronger leadership presence – Maggie (and Sasha). When Gregory refused to listen to reason about ways to strategize against the Saviors, some of the people from Hilltop proved eager to help, with or without Gregory’s approval. We suspect this number will continue to grow. It’s good to watch the powerful fall, especially when they deserve it. Viewers are anticipating Maggie’s takeover, and with Sasha and Jesus backing her up, it won’t be long before Gregory is just a vague memory.
Ron is probably the reason viewers don’t hate Carl anymore. The juxtaposition between these two was an opportunity for the writers to point at all of Carl’s best qualities, and grow them. At first, we wanted to give a pass to Ron for being so hostile and whiny – after all, Rick had recently killed his father, who was an abusive drunk. So needless to say, he had some issues. Where he really became unbearable was his immature and incessant jealousy of Enid’s attention to Carl. Despite Carl’s best efforts to talk some sense into Ron, he went full rogue and ended up shooting Carl in the eye, before being mauled by zombies. It was also no surprise that he’d do something as irresponsible as shoot a gun while inside of a hoard. The incident followed younger brother Sam’s panic attack, which spawned the whole ordeal in which that whole family went down. No great loss.
Shane’s downfall was a little painful to watch. He started out with only good intentions, rescuing Lori and Carl, and sparing them from the ugly truth about Rick. No one can be faulted for the relationship that eventually formed between Lori and Shane, and had Rick really been dead, there would be nothing to talk about. But he wasn’t. And things plummeted from there. Shane grew angry and resentful about Rick’s return, taking his family back and becoming the quick leader of the group. It was almost understandable, but the issue was Shane’s inability to move past it with any semblance of grace. Instead, he turned into a crazed lunatic, demanding the leadership role that he was so clearly not mentally stable enough to handle. What he was definitely right about was that he and Rick could not co-exist. Shane had to be taken out, and Rick had to be the one to do it. By the end, he was a viable threat to the safety of the group.
Ed was not around for long but we got to see enough of him to know he needed to be ended – quickly. An absolute tyrant, he terrorized his wife Carol and, presumably, their daughter, Sophia. In the little time we spent with him, we learned quite a bit. We know that he was greedy and lacked empathy, straight up refusing to help Lori and Carl despite having the means. We also know he abused the hell out of Carol, and we once heard Carol say he should be punished for looking at his own daughter. His death was absolutely satisfying, and served the first step towards Carol becoming a total badass. The brutal beating Ed received from Shane was a long time coming, and the fact that it led directly to his death made it even better. The cherry on top was Carol destroying his head with a pitch-axe. The catharsis was palpable.
Deanna and her husband have to be praised for building Alexandria into the (almost) sanctuary that it is. That being said – boy, were their children a misstep. We hadn’t learned a lot about Aiden when he died, except that he was a complete jerk (who also got what he deserved). Spencer, on the other hand, we spent more than enough time with. He did absolutely nothing to earn his keep, but rather felt entitled to it because his late mother used to run things. He stole and hid supplies, treated his mother terribly, and walked around like he owned the place. When he betrayed Rick to Negan, it was hardly unexpected. He had disloyalty written all over his face, so it’s no surprise Negan wasn’t fooled by his buddy-buddy act. He saw Spencer for what he was, a cowardice brat. After Negan’s previous kills, it was weird to cheer this one on, but we did.
From the outset, Nicholas’ cowardice, selfishness, and narcissism were apparent – and it was a dangerous mix. It was obvious that Alexandria’s “everyone for themselves” attitude was not going to meld well with the way Rick’s group did things, so sending the two factions out on a run together immediately spelled disaster. Alexandria’s resistance to Glenn’s authority proved deadly; especially when Nicholas bailed to save himself, effectively killing Noah. The feud soured further when he tried to kill Glenn in the woods, but we were all happy to watch Glenn give him a well-deserved beat down. Some of us felt he deserved more, but being the stand-up guy Glenn is, he gave him a second chance. And what did he do with it?! Unable to handle the stress of a dangerous situation – and once again refusing to trust Glenn! – he shot himself in the head taking Glenn down with him. Although Glenn survived this one, Nicholas can never be forgiven. In fact, he got off way too easy.
It’s unfortunate to have to say it, but Rick’s sloppy decision-making has put this group in danger so many times; and the attack on the Saviors takes the cake. Yes, the group rallied behind him; but at the end of the day it was his call, and it made it in haste. He did not make any attempts to study the enemy, which is the number one rule in battle. Knowing nothing about the Saviors, how they operate, or how many there are, he led his group into what was very potentially a suicide mission. After coming out on top in that one instance, he assumed the job was done. Never, never, never assume in war – especially based on so little. His actions directly led to the violent deaths of Glenn and Abraham. It was so sad, and so unfortunate, but from Negan’s perspective – yeah, this group killed a bunch of his people. Why wouldn’t he retaliate? Rick isn’t dead, but the pain of loss and trauma is enough. Hopefully, he learns from this.