The Walking Dead: 12 Characters That Died Way Too Soon
If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead and you haven’t seen the entire series, you might want to stop now. If you stumbled upon this The Walking Dead article because you are just now getting into AMC’s zombie epic series, ditto.
There are some harsh TWD spoilers coming your way, as season 7 is arriving this weekend and we can’t help but think of all the past horrors we’ve experienced. After all, the teaser trailers assure us someone was killed by Negan and we probably need to brace for a whole lot more dyin’.
We’ve seen enough death on this show to last us a lifetime, though. While it was all fairly warranted and helped piece together a magical story, we can’t help but wonder what the show would have been like if some characters we allowed to live, or at least had their time on the show prolonged a bit.
For one reason or another, we can across some pretty key characters that we personally felt deserved a little more air time, or should have perhaps never been killed off on The Walking Dead in the first place.
Without further haste, in anticipation of the next The Walking Dead death, we look back on the top The Walking Dead characters that arguably died way too soon:
Jacqui (Death: Suicide at the CDC in Season 1 Finale)
Jacqui actually offered very little as a character on The Walking Dead and in turn, she understandably didn’t last very long on the show. In fact, she lasted just six episodes, as the first season ended with the CDC blowing up.
The scientist at the CDC basically informed Rick Grimes and the group that there was no reason to fight, as survival in the new world was impossible. Rather than risk being eaten alive by zombies or hunted by savages, Dr. Edwin Jenner gives them an out when the CDC building enters self destruction mode.
Jacqui decides to give up and blows up with the building, which does serve a purposes by offering what the other path gives our characters. It serves a double purpose as the “out” the majority of our characters denied without knowing that everyone carried the virus.
No one misses Jacqui and she wasn’t a key character, but she also was never allowed the chance to develop into one. We would have gotten the same effect if just Dr. Jenner stayed and died and perhaps she could have gone on to prove herself a la Carol. We’ll never know.
Dale Horvath (Death: Guts ripped open by zombie and shot by Daryl in Season 2)
This is our first stop at “necessary” The Walking Dead deaths, but we can make a strong argument that the lovable Dale could/should have lasted a lot longer. For one, he was a smart guy, he was carrying a gun at the time of his death and frankly, it didn’t make a ton of sense that his character would go out pursuing strange sounds at night.
Dale probably needed to go, though, for two key reasons: Carl’s character needed to evolve a bit and he ultimately realizes he’s responsible for Dale’s death, while the arrival of Hershel also gives us one too many old wise men.
Dale was the voice of reason for all of season one and a good part of season two, but Hershel took that role over and ran with it. Dale still could have been a useful part of the group, however, and his death could have been delayed at least until season three.
Shane Walsh (Death: Stabbed by Rick Grimes in Season 2 Finale)
This is the one we have the biggest beef with, as Shane was hands down one of the best characters The Walking Dead has ever provided us with. Jon Bernthal’s turn as the best bud that takes care of Rick’s family when left for dead to bitter enemy who thinks he knows better is truly a fantastic performance.
Obviously the rapid evolution of both Shane’s character and the deterioration of his and Rick’s relationship added to his demise, but it didn’t have to shake the foundation of the show so quickly.
Later in the series we see people go out on their own and at one point Rick even exiles Carol. Shane’s death could have been avoided until a later stage, where we could have seen Rick vs. Shane be taken to new heights.
Maybe Shane and Andrea leave together, join up with The Governor and that entire season three (and 4) storyline is even more powerful.
Of course, the season 2 finale of The Walking Dead was what it was because Rick had to kill his best friend for the betterment of the group. That’s a huge part of Rick’s character development and we get how that was necessary.
We just hated to see such an awesome TWD character go when it felt like there was more story to work with there.
Merle (Death: Shot by the Governor and then stabbed as a zombie by brother, Daryl)
Are we sad that a racist, sexist is off the show? Not really, but let’s face it, Merle was actually one of the funnest early characters to hate on The Walking Dead. And as bad as he was, to his core he was never truly evil – at least not on the level of The Governor or Negan.
Merle wasn’t really all that necessary to progress the story here, and it actually helped tell us more about Daryl and the relationship between the two brothers. However, he was a strong personality who knew how to fight and was so determined to survive that he cut off his own hand. It seemed a bit weak for a guy with guts like that to go down so early.
We would have been plenty pleased with Merle getting shot and/or escaping without injury, only to turn up later in the show. Perhaps at the end of season 7 he’s with Negan and The Saviors? That would have been great and at that point we could still have gotten that bittersweet Daryl vs. Merle showdown.
Andrea (Death: Bitten by Milton Hamet, then suicide by gun in season 3 finale)
This was absolutely an unnecessary death. Andrea was a key character and we’re sure TWD show runners constantly feel like they have to off someone, but Andrea had turned from a weak character to one of the strongest over time.
We didn’t really shed tears when she ultimately died, but she was placed in a pretty crummy situation, where The Governor locked her up in a room and killed his right hand man, Milton, hoping he’d eat her alive.
That’s pretty much what happened, as Milton naturally turned after dying and Andrea couldn’t escape in time to prevent herself from getting bitten. The group discovers her too late and gives her the classic out of a bullet in the head so she doesn’t have to walk the earth as a zombie.
It provided us with a pretty powerful scene to close out season three, but Andrea was a strong character and could have been rather useful down the road. She also was never allowed to truly redeem herself after joining up with The Governor, so it was a shame to see her story cut short.
That’s partially the point, however. In this post-apocalyptic world, it’s not always going to be a happy ending.
Karen (Death: Got sick and then murdered and set on fire by Carol)
We don’t know much about Karen, other than she was Tyrese’s girl, seemed to be a good person and had some badass qualities. What we really know is she escaped The Governor’s community, got sick and then got dead.
Her death did play a key part in the evolution of Carol (and Tyreese and others), but Carol could have killed anyone and the thing with Tyrese could have been used differently. The potential for another strong female character was there and she was promising in the bits we saw her, but the show robbed us of any other possibility by killing her off in season three.
Hershel Greene (Death: Decapitated by The Governor in season 4)
Hershel picked up where Dale left off and for a good two seasons, was a fantastic fatherly figure that really guided Rick Grimes and the entire group. Hershel survived a ton of bad stuff, too, as he escaped an infested and burning country farm, watched as his friends and family were brutally murdered and even endured an amputated leg and getting bitten by a walker.
The big mistake was Hershel getting caught by The Governor near the middle of season 4, in what ended up being an epic “finale worthy” episode.
Hershel’s death was massive and lead to a big war at the prison, while it also played a key role in further character development for a lot of the group.
That being said, he didn’t have to necessarily die at this point. The Governor was already a ruthless character that wanted to take the prison and kill Rick’s group. He didn’t need to send a message by first offing Hershel.
The Governor (Death: Stabbed by Michonne and shot by Lilly Chambler)
The Governor was a massive character in the comics and a great TV character, so it was tough to see him go even after almost two full seasons. The evolution of his character probably did come full circle, though, so we can see why the group needed to defeat him and move on to a different obstacle.
Still, TWD could have had the group win and move on without The Governor’s death, only to bring him back later with a bigger, stronger army and present a much more difficult test. That could have also given way to killer storylines dominated by The Governor.
Gareth (Death: Hacked to bits by Rick)
Gareth was the nasty leader at Terminus and he certainly got what was coming to him, but the entire Terminus storyline felt a little underplayed after so much build up with the journey and destination throughout season four.
We really only see this epic storyline last four full episodes, as the group realizes their possible fate in the season four finale, escapes in the season five premier and murders Gareth and his group out of necessity in the third episode of season five.
That all gave us a great story and no part of the Rick/Group versus Gareth/Terminus lacked power, emotion or importance, but it all kind of came at you pretty fast. That entire storyline could have been heavily layered and strewn out, quite possible over all of season 5.
Gareth’s death and the triumph over what’s left of Terminus does lead to a transition that gets our beloved characters one step closer to Alexandria, but there was more to work with here via such savage characters like Gareth.
Beth Greene (Death: Shot in head by Dawn in hospital in middle of season 5)
There is no taking away from Beth’s death on The Walking Dead. She had a weird relationship with Dawn, the show probably needed a big character to die and she was basically making a power play to save Noah.
It was a major letdown to go through the entire process of Beth being abducted and basically held against her will, only to finally have the group catch up with her and see her die. It was a powerful moment, one that again led to further development of several main characters, but Beth was a sweet, kind character that looked for the good in most situations.
There was also a potential budding romance between her and Daryl that was loosely explored. Unfortunately, we’ll never know where that would have gone or if Beth could have served a greater purpose.
Tyreese (Death: Bitten by walker while losing his freaking mind)
This death was just disappointing because Tyreese was such a brute physical force, and also a kind, gentle soul. He was a complete character, heavily useful and had strong ties to numerous characters.
More than anything, his death was just reckless and pointless. Tyreese and Rick join Noah to see if his old community is habitable, and there we see Tyreese hallucinate and eventually get bitten by one of Noah’s dead brothers.
It was a pretty weak way for Tyreese to go, but it seemed like the rough journey he’d been on was starting to weigh down on him mentally. He probably didn’t have much longer beyond that, even if he’d avoided getting bit.
Noah (Death: Ripped apart by zombies after being caught in revolving door)
Noah’s death was annoying for several reasons. For one, Beth basically died for him to live, we visited his community where Tyreese got bit and we literally knew of this character for just a handful of episodes.
He hadn’t earned his keep yet, much less cozied up to our “give a crap” feels when it came to losing a character. Truth be told, his death was massive for the evolution of Glenn and it made for a powerful scene, but it could have absolutely been avoided – if not at least delayed.