10 Walking Dead Characters They Shouldn’t Have Killed

walking dead characters

In the cut-throat world that is television, we know all of our favorite characters can’t live forever.  The stories have long been told of actors anxiously awaiting the next script, scanning the pages with bated breath, frantically looking to see if this is the week their character says goodbye forever.  It comes with the territory; but what happens when television characters get killed off for no good reason or way before they reach their full potential?  You get a very angry fan base.  Here we will be going through ten instances of The Walking Dead seriously dropping the ball by killing off these characters.

10. Tyreese

Writers ran out of ideas before deciding to kill off Tyreese.

From the time we meet Tyreese to his ultimate demise, you can’t help but wonder why things turned out for him the way they did.  I don’t mean in terms of how he went out, but more in the sense of why a once promising character became so dull.  When he first arrives at the prison during Season 3, Tyreese is looked at as a leader.  A powerful, yet compassionate person, Tyreese’s had potential to become a serious player in the big picture of The Walking Dead.  Instead, he became this milquetoast, passive character that lost his reason for being there.  While his eventual death was touching and well-crafted, it ultimately seemed like a waste when the character could’ve been explored further rather than pushed to the side.

9. Hershel

Hershel before he is killed by The Governor.

When The Governor decided to kill Hershel, that was when The Walking Dead lost something.  A common theme throughout The Walking Dead is this concept of cloudy morality in a post-apocalyptic world.  Can humanity still be decent?  Is there any hope for things to return to the way they once were?  Hershel was the embodiment of that.  A wizened, sage-like man, Hershel was the line that separated man from beast.  Those times when Rick was threatening to go off the rails, it was Hershel who was able to reel him back in.  After his death, the show went into some dark times.  Those dark times didn’t make bad television, but a little nuance would’ve been nice to balance things out. 

8. Shane

Shane remains a fan favorite after departing the show in Season 2.

This mistake is more personal than anything else.  If you followed The Walking Dead comics, you knew Shane’s time on the show would always be short.  But we are talking about TV and let’s face it, TV is a popularity contest. Shane was a popular character and they could’ve found a way to make it work.  After original show runner, Frank Darabont, was fired from the show following Season 1, the word is Jon Bernthal, the actor portraying Shane, took it personally and wanted off the show.  This move shuttered any possibility of writers finding a way to keep Shane a part of the story.  It’s a real shame because Bernthal has shown he’s a more than capable actor that could’ve done great things for the story if only he’d been around a little longer. 

7. Lori

Lori's bad writing made fans happy when she was finally killed off.

Walking Dead show runners were once again faced with the question:  Should we follow the source material, or shouldn’t we?  Lori Grimes was one of the main characters during the early seasons of The Walking Dead.  She had a strong personality and a survival instinct that made her enjoyable to watch, not to mention the love triangle between Rick and Shane and herself was tense and added a level of realism to the story.  The thing we need to remember though, was Lori was a manipulator and often latched on to whatever person seemed to be in control.  This would be fine, but not when you are married to the show’s lead and are one of the main characters yourself.  When she is finally killed off, it feels like a relief, until you remember Lori could’ve played an important role in the future story.  After Shane was gone, the writers had a chance to take her in a new direction, but instead opted to go the lazy route by eliminating a character they deliberately made unpleasant. 

6. Sasha

Sasha was killed off before her character had a chance to go anywhere.

Sasha was a perfect example of a character that was brought onto the show just for the sake of having new storylines.  When she arrives with Tyreese in Season 3, it was up in the air how she was going to fit in on the show.  Fast forward a couple seasons, and that question still isn’t really answered.  Sure, Sasha is pragmatic, a great shot, an overall good member of the group, but so what?  PTSD was a concept explored in Sasha’s characterization, but it never really budded into anything compelling.  After Abraham was killed, it seemed they didn’t know what else to do with her, leaving no choice but to kill her off.  Another wasted opportunity to do something with a potentially interesting character. 

5. Merle

Michael Rooker was totally wasted in his role as Merle Dixon.

The first rule of good writing on The Walking Dead is:  keep around interesting characters as long as possible.  Merle Dixon is one of those characters.  When you’ve got an oddball actor like Michael Rooker part of your cast, make him a bigger part of the story.  After being left for dead during Season 1, we wondered if we’d simply seen the last of this despicable, yet very watchable character.  It was only two seasons later we find he is very much alive and working under the harsh rule of The Governor.  Cool, he’s back.  We get to see what acts of evil he has for us this time.  But the thing is, Merle wasn’t a truly evil character, as we learn when he teams back up with Rick’s group.  This seemingly simpleminded redneck was more complex than he was ever given credit for, but he never got much of a chance to blossom when he was ultimately killed off at the end of Season 3.  What a waste. 

4. Dale

Dale's death served no purpose but to up the body count.

During the early years of the show, the survivors were still learning the rules, adjusting to this new post-apocalyptic world they found themselves in.  It was still up in the air if humans had been able to maintain their humanity, and with that brought some moral ambiguity to the show.  Dale acted as a sort of wise man to the original survivors, keeping a soft balance that kept the group sane during the fleeting moments they weren’t on the run from Walkers.  Dale was what separated chaos from order, his mentality of keeping a level head was something everyone looked towards for guidance.  That was made all the more baffling when Dale is randomly killed off late into Season 2.  It’s not so much the character was untouchable, more of just how unnecessary it was at that moment.  Dale was gone before Rick and the others began running into the real threat – other people – and having someone like him around would’ve brought some nuance to the situation, rather than a black and white battle of good versus evil.  

3. Abraham

Abraham moments before he is killed by Negan.

Abraham’s death might be the best example of “kill just to kill” mentality.  When we first met Abraham during Season 4, it was exciting to have a new, tough as nails character on the show to kill some zombies.  He made a great addition to Rick’s group, his bravery and ability to bring down Walkers made for some of the show’s greatest action scenes.  We even got explore his softer side when a relationship develops between him and Sasha.  Then along came Negan.  I understand the tone needed to be set for Negan’s arrival, examples had to be made, but this just seemed like a waste of one of The Walking Dead’s truly cool characters.  The way things ended up with the showdown between Rick’s group and The Saviors, Abraham would’ve been a great character to join in the fray, instead of just being a bloody pulp lying in the dirt before things even get started. 

2. Glenn

Glenn as he kneels dying at the hands of Negan.

Speaking of Negan beating people to death with Lucille, his trusty barbed wire bat, what exactly were the writers thinking when they thought it’d be a good idea to kill off one of the show’s most beloved characters?  Glenn was consistently one of the most morally sound, likable characters on the show.  He was very average, fans saw a lot of themselves in him, and it was a real pleasure to have him on screen.  So you can imagine the shock and confusion when Glenn dies one of the show’s most gruesome deaths at the hands of Negan.  Why exactly did this need to happen?  It struck me immediately as one of those Game of Thrones style deaths where it is shock value for the sake of being shocking.  Well, it was shocking, but that doesn’t mean it was a smart move.  Fans absolutely detested this crummy attempt at a left turn and quite honestly, the show never really recovered after this point.

1. Carl

Carl's death will be seen as a huge mistake next season.

To cap off this list, let’s talk about the latest major death on The Walking Dead and why it was a big mistake.  Literally and figuratively, we got to see Carl grow up throughout the many years of The Walking Dead.  This is Rick Grimes’ story, but in many ways it also is Carl’s.  We know Rick isn’t going to be around forever, so having Carl finally get the chance to step up would be an interesting plotline to work towards.  But it seems that wasn’t in the cards.  Much like Glenn, Carl’s death seemed to be another attempt at the writers’ bad habit of playing with the audience;  Years and years of development and build up only to end with a lone gunshot.  Not to mention, Rick’s entire motivation from day one was to protect his family and with every loss, his reason for going on makes less and less sense.  Judith is still a bit young, but as The Walking Dead chugs along, it may only be a matter of time before she is killed off as well. 

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I spend thousands of hours exploring other people’s worlds, one of these days I probably won’t come back. If I see something scary in there, I'll be sure to let you know.
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