5 Character Deaths That Changed ‘The Walking Dead’ Forever!

the walking dead deaths

In the post-apocalyptic world of “The Walking Dead,” gruesome death is practically an everyday occurrence. What’s clear, however, is that not all victims are created equal. As the series nears its conclusion, Variety has chosen — and ranked — 5 deaths that marked significant turning points, either in terms of tone, plot or character on “The Walking Dead,”

5. Enid, Tara and Henry

For the purpose of this list, the deaths of Enid, Tara and Henry (Katelyn Nacon, Alanna Masterson and Matt Lintz) are being counted as one, and the reason for that is simple. Although each of them was a deeply cherished character in their own rights, their simultaneous murder at the hands of Alpha and the Whisperers is what gave their deaths such a devastating impact. The staggering blow their killings dealt to Daryl, Carol, Ezekiel and the rest of the group is incalculable, and the void they left behind hasn’t been filled since.

Never before had so many main characters on the show been wiped out all at once. Across social media, fans of “The Walking Dead” instantly drew parallels between this episode – titled “The Calm Before” – and the “Red Wedding” episode of “Game of Thrones,” and the comparison makes perfect sense. If anyone doubted the ruthlessness of the Whisperers before this episode, the synchronized massacre of so many popular characters put those doubts to rest, permanently.

4. Sophia Peletier

The death of Carol’s 12-year-old daughter Sophia (Madison Lintz) was the first major gut punch on “The Walking Dead,” and set a powerful tone for the series that never abated. Much of Season 2 focused on the desperate search for the missing girl, who was separated from her mother and friends when a horde of walkers ambushed the group on a remote highway.

Despite their best efforts, Sophia’s reanimated corpse eventually stumbled out of Hershel’s barn, shocking Rick and his cohorts, and stunning millions of TV viewers around the world. Her death proved that no character, no matter how young or innocent, was safe on “The Walking Dead.” In future seasons, Sophia’s tragic demise continued to weigh heavily on Carol, and it was instrumental in turning her from a meek and helpless victim to a confident and deadly warrior.

3. Merle Dixon

In the grand scheme of things, the death of Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) might not seem that important. After all, he was basically a violent, racist, misogynistic creep whose hair-trigger temper and abrasive personality often put Rick and the others in jeopardy during the first three seasons of the show. But he was also Daryl’s older brother. And his death paved the way for Daryl’s eventual transformation into the honorable character fans came to know and love. If Merle had lived longer, his corrupting influence over Daryl might have grown stronger. And it’s hard to imagine Daryl ever stepping out from beneath his looming shadow. Think about the heartfelt scene between Daryl and Rick in Season 4, where they declare themselves brothers for life. Would that emotional exchange have been possible with Merle still in the picture? Not likely.

2. Carl Grimes

Over the course of eight seasons, fans watched as Carl Grimes grew before their eyes from a frightened little boy to a self-possessed young man whose courage and integrity inspired positive change in even the darkest souls (that means you, Negan).

Bitten by a walker while searching for Siddiq, Carl revealed his terminal condition to Rick and Michonne while hiding in the sewers beneath Alexandria. His death by self-inflicted gunshot remains one of the most powerful moments of the entire series. And it marked a major turning point in the group’s battle with the Saviors.

Even in death, Carl’s influence continued, thanks to the personal letters he penned for each of the main characters, including his father’s bat-wielding archenemy. Curiously, Carl almost died twice during the series. Once when he was accidentally shot in the stomach by Otis in Season 2, and again when he was shot in the eye by Ron in Season 6. Fittingly, it was while on a mission of mercy to help someone in need that he acquired his lethal bite. A noble end for a principled character.

1. Glenn Rhee

The graphic murder of Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun), one of the original and most beloved characters on “The Walking Dead,” not only changed the tone and the storyline of the show forever, it may well have affected the show’s viewership. Ratings dropped substantially following the controversial Season 7 premiere that saw Negan brutally bludgeon Glenn to death with his infamous barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat. The savage sequence, depicted in grotesque close-up, divided fans down the middle.

Longtime comic book readers appreciated the scene’s faithful recreation of Glenn’s illustrated death. While many TV fans felt it crossed a line in terms of its unflinching cruelty and stomach-churning violence. Even Jeffrey Dean Morgan has stated that he feels the scene was probably a bad idea. Glenn’s death was so momentous, in fact, it arguably overshadowed Abraham’s death, which occurred mere seconds earlier. Regardless of how you feel about the way it was handled, one thing is clear. No death in the history of “The Walking Dead” left a bigger impression on fans than the demise of Glenn.

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Source: Variety

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