Note: The following article contains wild speculation, mild assumptions, but most importantly of all, spoilers for The Walking Dead comic series. If you’re prepared to handle such consequences, or didn’t even realize The Walking Dead was based on a comic series, please continue reading. Also, share this article why don’t you?
I caught up late to the runaway success that was The Walking Dead comic series, but I knew what brutality awaited me when I reached the series’ seminal hundredth issue. When that day arrived, I naively assumed that I was prepared for it, knowing full well what was in store, and having plowed through the series’ previous 99 issues without much pause (except for when Carl had his eye blown out–ick!). That confidence was a false sense of security it turns out and issue #100 of The Walking Dead broke me. I read the final panel, closed the book, and stepped away from Robert Kirkman’s ugly zombie-infested world for a while. That night I didn’t sleep too well, either.
What happens in that issue is not just that a character dies–certainly not a shocking fate for anyone in The Walking Dead, I know–but it’s the who, how, and why of the moment that makes it so paralyzing. To set the scene, Negan, the leader of a group of scavengers called The Saviors, ambushes a collective of our heroes and holds them captive on the road. He then whips out his trusty Lucille, a barbed-wired wrapped baseball bat, and proceeds to select which of our heroes is going to be on the receiving end of his vengeance. One haunting game of “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” later and Glenn is beaten to death in front of the group (in one of artist Charlie Allard’s more gruesome sequences spread across several cringe-inducing panels). Just like that, one of the characters that has been with the series for nine-years is snuffed out and randomly chosen after a child’s nursery rhyme no less. It’s sickening.
That takes us to this Sunday’s season finale of The Walking Dead TV show where presumably, some sort of version of this event will take place. Negan has been mentioned though not shown yet, and all signs (including a trailer) point to the finale being his (and Lucille’s) on-screen debut. If his official entrance into The Walking Dead TV series is anything like the comics, he’ll be bringing his unique brand of justice with him, and one of our beloved heroes will see their final days. But who? Here are the six most likely candidates (in order of likelihood):
Whenever there’s the possibility of a mainstay cast member being killed off in The Walking Dead, Carol’s name is always in the conversation. Maybe it’s just the nature of the show but given how much Carol has grown and all the emotional journeys she’s gone on, it feels like the writers are always prepping for her eventual swan song. In the last few episodes, she’s undergone yet another transformation, from a take-no-prisoners kill-or-be-killed protector to someone so afraid of killing again that she’s gone out on her own. Given the number of Negan’s Saviors lurking about, it seems logical that when our group of survivors finally encounters Negan, he’ll be towing a captured Carol in tow. She’s also a major fan-favorite, so her death will have the significant impact the event demands.
Oh, the irony of The Walking Dead‘s only pacifist character dying at the hands of its most lethal one seems like too good an opportunity to pass up, doesn’t it? Morgan’s constant declaration that “all life is precious” and his resistance to fighting any outsiders could result in him ushering in a new, more civilized world for the show, but what would it take for other characters to start adopting his ways? His death. If that’s not convincing enough, then allow me to throw this theory out there: in the comics, Negan is defeated and Rick decides instead of killing him, his group is going to construct a prison and hold him accountable for his actions in an attempt to bring the justice system back into the world. Since we have seen Morgan on the show constructing said prison, what if his death at the hands of Negan is what prompts Rick to ultimately toss Negan behind bars, because that’s what Morgan would have wanted? Think about that!
Surely The Walking Dead wouldn’t go so far as to kill a pregnant female character so maliciously, would they? You would hope not but at the same time, can this show really sustain having two babies? You know, in a world where being quiet is paramount to survival? In the comics, Rick and Lori’s daughter Judith never survives the prison attack and Maggie does go on to successfully deliver her child without her husband, Glenn, so The Walking Dead could remix these two events in such a way that Maggie and her child do not survive their encounter with Negan and Glenn is instead forced to live the rest of the days without his family. The Walking Dead would get into some real darkest timeline territory for sure (not to mention potential ire from their fanbase) but in its own sick way, it would be an unexpected turn for a series that dared to do the unthinkable.
Here’s where we get into the, “If Daryl dies, we riot!” debacle. Yes, Daryl is one of if not the most popular characters on The Walking Dead and to kill him off would threaten to turn a large portion of audience against the show. But let’s face facts: Daryl is on borrowed time. He’s a character that doesn’t exist in the comics and he’s had more personal growth than almost anyone on the show (except maybe Carol). Not to mention when Glenn was killed in the comics it was a tragic event because we lost a character we thought was safe and someone we have been with since the beginning. Doesn’t that sound like another character we know? If the writers want to echo that Glenn moment and go for a character we don’t want to see go, Daryl is the most logical option. He’s also killed a fair number of Negan’s Saviors, so if the big boss is out for revenge, he would need to look no further. Sorry.
He’s the obvious choice to follow in his own comic book character’s fate, but at the same time, he’s also perhaps the safest of the bunch. The Walking Dead show runners have done a lot of remixing when it comes to Kirkman’s original material, swapping out the participants in memorable events from the comics. For example, just a few seasons ago the TV show substituted Hershel in for the comic book’s Tyrese as the one viciously beheaded by the Governor outside the prison. Most recently, Denise was killed in place of Abraham from the comics. So, it begs the question: Will Glenn be on the receiving end of Lucille or will he just simply watch as another character takes his place? Let’s also not forget that the show has had Glenn narrowly escape death twice already THIS season, so putting him in danger a third time may be frivolous.
If there’s one thing the television version of The Walking Dead loves doing it is allowing a previously sidelined character to experience a sudden story arc before killing that character off. It happened to Tyrese, it happened to Beth, and it could happen to Abraham. In recent episodes, he has nearly had the life choked out of him which caused him to discover his true feelings for one survivor and break off his long-standing relationship with another. That’s the most development that character has seen since he showed up, so clearly he’s being marked for death by the writers. Couple this with the fact that Abraham in the show just passed the point where his comic book counterpart bites the dust and this character might be on his last legs.