“If you want to live? you wanna survive? You gotta fight for it”- Rick Grimes.
The Walking Dead is currently as wonderful as it has ever been, if not better. And that’s saying a lot considering it’s been the best show on television since it first aired a decade ago, with the exception of Breaking Bad.
Many people have mentioned it went through a tough period in seasons 7 and 8, as the storylines were completely unexpected. However, new showrunner Angela Kang breathed new life into the series in the first minutes of season 9.
The writing has been terrific, and both new and experienced cast members raised their game to new heights. Oh, man. Let’s not even get started on the unexpected and heartbreaking deaths of The Walking Dead.
That made our favorite characters drive into a dark place after losing their loved ones. And therefore, made us, the audience, weaker by witnessing them in this state.
But, before we go into the list of Walking Dead deaths, let’s go over the series’ premise to refresh some old memories.
‘The Walking Dead’ Premise
You probably have guessed what this series is about by now, zombies. The series begins with Rick Grimes, the lead character, being shot by a criminal while working as a deputy. Putting him in a coma in the hospital.
But things start to get strange when he wakes up to find a world full of zombies. And Rick is trying to find his child and wife. Eventually, the worry of zombies getting spread in the world leads to humans turning against each other.
It leads Rick to lead a group of people who are also trying to survive in this post-apocalyptic world together, well together? Or maybe not.
We believe the Walkers (zombies) are the first draw. But after you’re invested in the show, a whole other dynamic emerges. This show is about people’s relationships in a post-apocalyptic world. The Walkers are only part of the problem; as this show demonstrates, humans are a clear threat to each other.
Almost every character in The Walking Dead provides a masterpiece-worthy performance as they advance through fast-paced post-apocalyptic America.
Character growth shines brightly throughout this series, as they are all confronted with grief, loneliness, and mental breakdowns at some time.
The Deaths In ‘The Walking Dead’
Though the Walking Dead has seen a number of deaths and has survived a number of near-death experiences, in this article, we’ll solely focus on the deaths of the main characters, which were truly the stars of the series.
1. Lori Grimes – ‘Killer Within’
If the walking dead has taught viewers anything, it’s that no character is safe. Lori Grimes brutally reminded us of this fact in of the show’s most pivotal episodes while trying to stay away from walkers within the prison, the pregnant protagonist went into labor.
Unfortunately, it becomes clear that the baby will need to be delivered via c-section which Lori can’t recover from. We sat there stunned, as we realized, we were watching this character’s final moments.
The fact that Lori also dies in the source material should have prepared us for this demise. However, we and the cast still found ourselves off guard by the final decision, she made for her daughter.
2. Shane Walsh – ‘Better Angels’
Spectators love to imagine an alternate reality where longtime friends Rick and Shane could have worked together as real partners through the series. Unfortunately, their vastly different views of what it took to survive made them an incompatible team.
After almost two seasons of tension, their conflict came to a head when Shane decided to end Rick. We were preparing for the series to follow the source material and have a third party intervene. However, Rick actually managed to calm the situation down before attacking Shane with a knife.
We were hugely surprised that officer friendly actually went through with this decisive action. And took down one of his own. But we knew that Shane left Rick with no other choice but to take this extreme measure.
3. Andrea – ‘Welcome To The Tombs’
After spending most of season 3 away from her friends, it looked like the tough and resourceful Andrea was finally going to rejoin Rick’s crew. But the governor made her journey much harder by restraining her to a chair. And leaving her in a room with a man about to turn.
Once Andrea finally freed herself it looked like she would dispatch the new Walker in her way and escape. We were stunned when her friends arrived and discovered she had been bit.
Since Andrea survived significantly longer in the comics, seeing her parish here was a huge twist. Her demise left us wondering how the story would move forward without such a major character.
4. Theodore T-Dog Douglas – ‘Killer Within’
A relatively peaceful day at the group’s prison was ruined when a bunch of walkers appeared without warning. T-Dog didn’t hesitate to try to contain the outbreak by closing a fence to trap a group of them.
Suddenly, one of the walkers, T-Dog didn’t see snuck up on him and got his shoulder. Since there wasn’t a way for him to take care of his would, we were already prepared to lose one of the group’s moral centers.
But the show shocked us again by having T-Dog sacrifice himself to save Carol’s life. No one could have foreseen that a key member of the group would fall on a day that began so beautifully.
5. Tyreese Williams – ‘What Happened And What’s Going On’
Tyreese paid a visit to Noah’s destroyed community. And the duo were wandering about a seemingly lifeless home. So, neither we nor a distracted Tyreese noticed Noah’s reanimated sibling surprise the formidable survivor with a bite.
The wounded warrior appeared to still be alive. Tyreese not only fought to stay alive, but we believe he responded quickly enough to prevent the wound from becoming fatal. However, the harsh reality of the matter was that it was too late.
As Tyreese’s death came just one episode after another major character died, creating an unexpected and tragic twist.
6. Jessie, Sam, And Ron Anderson – ‘No Way Out’
When the Anderson family’s home was overrun with walkers, Rick, Carl, and Micchone successfully camouflaged themselves in a horde. But young Sam Anderson becomes very frightened and draws too much attention to himself.
His horrified mother Jessie also suffers a disturbing death moments after he is attacked by walkers. In vengeance, Ron attempts to shoot a member of the Grimes family, but Micchone takes the would-be assassin down.
A stray gunshot leaves Carl with a permanent facial injury. What made this scene so memorable was the several unexpected twists. That occurred over the course of around three minutes, even if you knew what was going to happen at the end.
7. Beth Greene – ‘Coda’
While we’ve long understood that the Walking Dead isn’t concerned about whether it hurts our feelings, this twist seemed unnecessarily brutal. After a half-season of searching for Beth, the group is eventually reunited with her friends.
Don Lerner, the group’s wicked leader, reveals that the beloved Noah may not be able to leave with them. Despite Rick’s agreement, Beth can’t let this go and moves in to attack the cruel leader.
A gunshot kills Beth in moments. Then Daryl retaliates by eliminating Don before we could catch our breath. We never imagined the opportunity of the reunion we waited half a season for would go with the flash of a gun.
8. Hershel Greene – ‘Too Far Gone’
No family on this show has had the more tragic deaths than the Greenes. Before we lost beth we painfully parted with Hershel. This character was wise, a moral compass, and a constant source of hope for his friends.
Hershel managed to defy the odds and survive both a walker bite and leg amputation. After all, he had been through we had faith that he’d survive being kidnapped by the despicable governor.
When the villain threatened to end Hershel’s life with a sword, Rick gave an inspiring plea for unity and forgiveness. But, the governor swung the Katana anyway.
Watching the compassionate Hershel fall in this horrible twist made us feel like the Greene family was doomed to suffer.
9. The Whisperer Ambush Victims
Alpha thought the best way to prove the Whisperers were not meant to be messed with was a horrifying show of force during a joyful fair. She and her followers targeted a random selection of innocents and ripped them from their loved ones.
After Alpha and her people took the lives of their captives, they publicly showed their gruesome work to the other survivors. Our hearts skipped a beat after each new deceased face was revealed.
In one fell swoop, we lost Tara, Enid, Henry, and several other great characters. Since the lineup differed from the ones who died in the comics. There was no way to prepare for what we would see. The startling sight of these undeserving victims sent a powerful and unforgettable message.
10. Abraham Ford & Glen Rhee – ‘The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be’
Anyone who was familiar with the walking dead comics knew that Glenn was meant to perish at the end of Negan’s bat. So when the imposing villain had multiple heroes at his mercy.
We had a strong idea of where the weapon would fall. But the show threw a tragic curveball by revealing that Abraham was Negan’s first direct victim.
Although his sudden death rattled us we thought we had been through the worse of it and then, Daryl punched Negan. The angry villain decided to prove a point by picking Glenn as his second victim.
This absolutely brutal turn of events managed to defy and confirm our expectations at once. Whether you were a hardcore fan or a new viewer, this brutal bat sequence caught you by surprise.
However, we don’t really think that Negan was satisfied with just killing Abraham. TV Negan is really into cruel spectacles. There was that whole trip with Rick in the RV, then nearly Cutting Carl’s arm off with the hatchet.
TV Negan was a far crueler character than the comic book version (no slacker in that medium either). However, we will throw in there that Rick’s midnight assault on the radar outpost was highly precipitous.
The minute Glenn let his feelings show, Negan filed them away in his mind. Glenn was probably a dead man at that second. But Negan still wanted to kill Rick’s “right-hand man” and watch for his reaction.
If the group did not give the reaction he wanted, Glenn was next. If Rick’s group did give the reaction he wanted, Glenn would die later. But he was going to die as it meant hurting the group.
11. All But One Member Of The Scavenger Group
The scavengers that lived in a junkyard had a nasty habit of betraying people they were supposed to be working with. This garbage-based society got away with it until they crossed the saviors a second time.
Initially, Negan wanted his lieutenant Simon to eliminate just one scavenger to send a message to the entire group. However, the mustachioed savior ends up losing his temper during the mission.
We gasped as Simon ordered his people to fire on the entire group. When the smoke cleared only scavenger leader, Anne was left standing, it was beyond surprised to see this traitorous group get almost wiped out in the blink of an eye.
12. Spencer Monroe – ‘Hearts Still Beating’
Instead of trying to stop the vicious Negan with force, Spencer wanted to win over the villain with diplomacy. They actually seemed to have a nice day together drinking and playing a game of pool.
Once Spencer saw an opening, he tried to undermine Rick and request to be the new leader. Negan rejected this leadership offer by shockingly stabbing the wannabe politician on the spot.
While we were still reeling from Spencer’s end, Rosita tried to remove the bat-wielding villain from the earth. In the wake of her failed assassination attempt, Negan ordered his follower Arat to take the innocent Olivia’s life without warning.
Seeing two named characters die in one afternoon, showed how truly unpredictable the big bad could be.
13. Siddiq – ‘Open Your Eyes’
Resident doctor Siddiq was never the same after he was captured by the heinous Whisperer group. The memories of the night continued to haunt him whether he was asleep or awake.
Although it seemed like Siddiq was safe from the villainous group in Alexandria, our hearts dropped when he realized his ally Dante was actually a Whisperer spy.
While the doctor was not the group’s most skilled fighter, we still thought he would be able to beat this wolf in sheep’s clothing, but Siddiq could not overcome Dante or his demons.
The doctor’s incredibly depressing and really rocked us because it was hidden in an already unexpected spy reveal.
14. Paul Rovia (Aka Jesus) – ‘Evolution’
Although the cast of the walking dead is huge, Jesus stood out. Because he was an athletic fighter who could get out of anything. And we knew he would make it to the end of the series.
Because he is one of the few that survives the entire comic story. So, we were not slightly worried when Jesus faced a bunch of walkers in a dark and smoky graveyard.
After skilfully taking out multiple foes we gasped when his last Target dodged his blade and retaliated. We could not believe this was the end of the fan-favorite character.
While these scenes served as a memorable intro for a new enemy group, we still have trouble accepting that he fell away before his time.
15. Lizzie Samuels – ‘The Grove’
Once we learned of Sofia’s fate in season 2, it was clear that even young walking dead characters were not safe. Yet we still could not have predicted how Lizzie would go.
The disturbed survivor left our jaws on the floor when she ensured that her sister Mika would become a walker. In the wake of this incredibly disturbing scene, Carol and Tyreese realize that Lizzie crossed a line of no return.
The adults decide that there is only one way to move forward, every fan remembers where they were when Carol told Lizzie to look at the flowers.
Thankfully, the show gave us plenty of time to sit and process this absurdly dark turn of events with the characters before moving on to more walker action.
16. Denise Cloyd – ‘Twice As Far’
As soon as a secondary cast member gets too much screen time on this show, it often means their demise is imminent. However, we still had our guards down when Denise got a starring role in twice as far.
We watched her grow from a doctor who doubted herself into a strong-willed survivor who spoke up for what she wanted. So, we were ecstatic to see her give a fantastic speech to Daryl and Rosita while they were out on a run.
But Denise’s speech was shockingly cut short when former savior Dwight assassinated her with one crossbow bolt.
Unless you were in the writer’s room or on set that day, it was impossible to see the sudden death of this developed character coming.
17. Philip Blake (aka The Governor) – ‘Too Far Gone’
The past of the Governor is shrouded in mystery. We only know that he was once like the rest of us. He had a job (and loathed his boss for wielding more authority than him), but he also had a wife and a daughter, Penny, whom he loved more than anyone.
When the governor first appears in season three, he is more annoying than violent. But when Micchone takes out a zombie daughter, Philip spirals out of control.
Throughout, the first half of season four, he is the primary concern for Rick Grimes and company. The governor even decapitates poor Hershel. Unsurprisingly he does not last long after that as Rick sneaks up on him and Micchone plunges a katana through his body.
It is a satisfying moment for walking dead fans, but the final blow comes from Lily who finishes off the evil antagonist once and for all.
18. Merle Dixon – ‘This Sorrowful Life’
Merle was shown as a miserable, virulent, racist— who still manages to have one of the show’s saddest deaths. After he gets handcuffed to a rooftop in Atlanta by Rick Grimes, he manages to escape by cutting off part of his arm.
He makes his way to Woodbury, where he becomes the Governor’s right-hand man– pun intended. If Merle has a soft spot, it’s for his little brother, Daryl– who by the time they’re reunited, is a royal member of Rick’s group.
Although Merle makes a brief attempt to run off with his brother, he quickly realizes that Daryl is not the man he once was. Resenting his brother’s newfound goodness, Merle tries to prove that his way of thinking is what’s going to get the job done in the fight against the Governor, and launches an assassination attempt.
However, a rogue walker interrupts his attack. And the Governor takes his shot, tearing off two of Merle’s remaining fingers and breaking his other arm.
Merle, not surprisingly, has some defiant last words: “I ain’t gonna beg. I ain’t begging you”. Daryl catches up to the scene too late. After seeing his older brother as a walker, Daryl crumbles– then puts him down in an explosion of righteous frustration.
19. Emma Bell (Aka Amy) – ‘Vatos’
We fans were shocked to learn that a pleasant evening for the survivors will result in the death of another named character. Amy excuses herself to visit the restroom while the campfire is burning and the people are eating and frying fish.
Everyone had no idea it was their last conversation with her, as the camp was soon overtaken by walkers. When an unknowingly Amy exits the RV to inform the group that there is no more toilet paper, she is brutally attacked by a walker who bites into her arm.
Andrea, Amy’s sister, arrives to save her, but we, the viewers, knew it was a goodbye to Amy.
20. Carl Grimes – ‘Honors’
Carl Grimes starts as a helpless kid. However, the apocalypse hardens him the same as any venerable survivor. Sure, he has his teenage moments, in which he eats too much pudding or reads too many comic books. But overall, he is a bona fide warrior. He even loses an eye.
Eventually, the war with Negan cause Carl to realize that, although he has killed people himself, a better way to live one’s life exists. That’s why, when he sees a man named Siddiq wandering the woods, about to be consumed by a herd of walkers, he steps in and helps to save his life.
Unfortunately, the bout results in Carl getting bit in the abdomen. Realizing his fate, Carl writes letters to his loved ones and prepares for the end.
He even manages to lead the Alexandrian survivors, adults and all, to safety, during a surprise attack by Negan and the saviors. Once everyone is somewhat safe, Carl reveals his wound to his dad and Micchone uses his final words to advocate for a better world, free of war.
As his mom told him with her final breaths, Carl is the one with a hope of beating this world. By sacrificing himself for his fellow man, he does. Rick’s loss of his wife and son was heartbreaking, as we will never forget his joy when he found them after waking up from his coma.
After watching several seasons of the walking dead, fans have realized by now, that the show is not mainly about zombies. It is about complicated relationships among people bent on surviving what most people cannot survive.
There were some more side characters who died as well. Perhaps one of them was your favorite that we missed. So don’t forget to tell us about them in the comments area below, as well as which character’s death affected you the most.