WARNING!!! THIS POST HAS SPOILERS!!! Not just for the Walking Dead TV series, but for anything else I draw comparisons too. Proceed at your own risk.
The Walking Dead TV Series has become a pop culture phenomenon and is a massive success. I personally have never read the comics and I only have the show to go by. We can all debate the merits and problems with the show and whether or not it deserves its praise, but one aspect of the show that I give credit for is that when they kill a character, they keep that character dead.
One of my pet peeves is a lack of commitment to killing a character. It was one of the reasons I got out of comic books in my teens and it is one of the reasons I never took Dragon Ball Z seriously. It is also one of the reasons I was unwilling to give Agents of SHIELD a chance initially (I now love the show). If somebody died, and there was always some loophole to bring them back, then why should I care if that person ‘dies’? Death, to me, should be final. So the fact that The Walking Dead (and Game of Thornes as well) makes sure to not bring characters back once they’ve killed them, to me, is something worthy of praise.
That said, there have been several instances in the show where The Walking Dead got a little too hasty with the killings. This led to situations where forced scenarios and lazy writing took over and characters were killed off in absurd ways that were a detriment to the show. Because I like being a nitpicky fool and people love lists, and also because Walking Dead Season 6 debuts tomorrow night and I want to be relevant, here is a list of the top ten worst deaths in the show’s history.
10) Oscar (Season 3, Episode 8)
When the group first came to the prison, they found it occupied by four prisoners that were keeping shelter within the prison walls. two of them turned out to be bad guys that were dispatched, and one of them (Axel) became a victim of the governor. The fourth Oscar seemed primed and ready for some character development. T-Dogg was out of the picture, so they needed some muscle, and when push came to shove, Oscar chose to save Rick over helping his prison compatriots. He seemed like he was going to become a big player for the group…until he died during the raid on Woodbury and ultimately made no impact on the show. The lameness of this situation comes out of what they could have done with the character long term, but instead they opted to throw him out almost as quickly as they had introduced him. Axel got a similarly abridged time on the show, but he was at least a victim of The Governor’s wrath and that added to his villainy. Oscar just felt like collateral damage.
9) Lilly (Season 4, Episode 9)
Let me get this straight. The person that delivered the death shot to the biggest baddy the show has ever had, The Governor, dies off screen? Seriously? You have nothing for her after that? Nothing at all? We don’t even get to see her die? OK then.
8) Reg (Season 5, Episode 16)
I’m going to keep this one short and sweet too. The guy was accidentally killed by a drunken abusive husband with a samurai sword. If it wasn’t so gory, it could almost pass for a Three Stooges bit. This death was a pure example of unintentional hilarity, and he would be higher on the list if the character had been more than background filler.
7) Megan (Season 4, Episode 8)
The winner of Season 4’s Darwin Award has to go to Megan. This girl was just begging to die. Just as an example, there was an episode prior to her death where she played hide and seek. WHO PLAYS HIDE AND SEEK DURING THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE?!?!?!. And what type of stupid pills did her mom take to allow such inane behavior? It was only a matter of time before this child’s stupidity got the best of her and sure enough, she got bit while digging in a giant mud pit. Because, you know, that’s safe, and of course her mom wasn’t watching her when all this happened. Basically, what happened to Megan is what should have happened to Carl in season 2 on the farm. Bad parenting and bad decisions in the zombie apocalypse should lead to death. Wait, now that I think about it, this one might be secretly brilliant. This character demonstrated exactly what not to do during the zombie apocalypse and paid for it. Oh well, she’s still extremely dumb.
6) Dale (Season 2, Episode 11)
The thematic point behind Dale’s death was fine in theory. Simply put, Carl’s mistake had grave consequences and it was good to showcase that in the series. That is all well and good, but the fault here lies in the execution. The scene itself was absurd. How on Earth was Dale ambushed in the middle of an open field by one lone walker? Was this the only walker in the world to have ninja skills and cat like reflexes? He was able to sneak up on him without making a sound! Inconsistencies with the physical nature of the zombies for the sake of forced drama are just silly. George Romero gave you the rules. The zombies are slow and unable to think as they are driven by the instinct to feed and that is it. If they want to develop the zombies beyond that (ala Day of the Dead), that’s fine, but in Season 2, they had pretty much established these walkers as slow moving and appear to be incapable of cognition or even being quiet, so how this one walker was able to sneak up on Dale in the middle of the field is just ridiculous. The fact that Dale was a major character to this point only enhances how stupid this was.
5) The Terminus Gang (Season 5, Episode 3)
The show spend all of season 4 foreshadowing this group, and ended the season with a huge cliffhanger where they are revealed to be cannibals and have Rick’s group held captive. The denizens of Terminus were a welcomed addition to the show, especially after The Governor had been killed off in the Season 4 midseason finale. The show needed some new antagonists, and a group of creepy cannibals luring people to their doom seemed perfect.Fans were forced to wait months until the new season began to find out what would happen. What did happened in season 5? Rick’s group burned their home down and then killed them all two episodes later. Uh, lame.
I already mentioned the Governor, so I’ll draw a comparison. What did he do while he was on the show? He killed Andrea, Herschel, and Merle. He walker bombed the prison at one point, and later tore the prison down, taking the group’s home away from theme. Overall, he’s the greatest threat that the group ever had. What did the Terminus gang do? They ate Bob’s leg. That was the height of their evil and their victories over our heroes. They didn’t kill Bob (he was going to die anyway). They ate Bob’s leg, and other than that, the group pretty much made them their punching bags. How do you introduce a gang of cannibals and end up having them result in that little of an impact to the show as a whole? It was a wasted opportunity. The actual scene where the group killed them all was great, but should have come after an entire multi-episode stretch of dealing with them. Killing them after only 3 episodes where they had almost no impact made the whole experience feel like a waste of time.
4) Bob (Season 5, Episode 4)
Hey guys! Why don’t we all jump into a pit of water without checking for zombies first! I’m sure nothing bad will happen there! I hate it when a character death has to be the result of doing something incredibly stupid when at this point in the show, everyone still alive should know better. The difference between Bob and some other characters is that this guy survived on his own for long stretches and was the sole surviving member of two groups prior to meeting Rick’s gang. He should know how to survive by this point and everybody just taking magic stupid pills to do this incredibly reckless thing was just a forced convenience to get another death on the show. Somebody had to get bit in that incredibly dumb scenario, and Bob was the unlucky winner.
3) Andrea (Season 3, Episode 16)
To be honest, I never liked Andrea as a character in the show. I’ve heard that she is much better in the comics, but like I said, I am not familiar with the comics. In her tenure on the show, I found her to be a crazy lunatic with a messiah complex. I could sit here all day and list examples, but that isn’t the point of this list. Now these traits would be great if she was supposed to be the villain, but we were clearly supposed to root for her, which was impossible given how annoying she was. As it turned out, even in death, she managed to be infuriating.
It is a shame because the scenario itself is fantastic. The Governor stabs Milton and leaves him to die and leaves a tied up Andrea locked in the room with her, knowing that Milton will die, come back as a zombie, and kill her. It is like something out of Alfred Hitchcock. The problem is once again in the execution. Put anyone with a brain and interested in surviving in that same situation and they’d fight and try anything to get the cutting tools on the floor and cut a way to freedom. Andrea insists on talking the Milton while he is slowly dying and her time is running out. Andrea…shut your mouth…get knife…cut yourself out. If she hadn’t wasted time talking to Milton, she could have gotten herself free as she missed it by mere seconds. When the death of a character relies on the stupidity of the victim, then it takes away the level of tragedy needed to make the moment completely effective.
2) Tyrese (Season 5, Episode 9)
I didn’t like season 5. Can you tell? Tyrese was generally a character with a soft disposition, but there were times where he would rage out and become a one man wrecking crew for walkers (Tyrese + Hammer = BEAST MODE), It comes time to kill him off and Tyrese gets taken down by a little kid walker. I once watched him storm through a whole group of walkers with his hammer and leave a pile of bodies in his wake. Now he gets taken out by a puny little kid walker? Wow.
If that isn’t embarrassing enough, the remaining half of the episode stretches out his demise by having him hallucinate about some other dead characters. I don’t know why, but most of the time I see a character get haunted by loved ones or ghosts from his past, it gets unintended laughs from me (Look at Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the Nicholas Cage version of The Wicker Man). The most unintentionally hilarious of these visions was The Governor presenting him with a slideshow to show him how much of a failure he is. Beth driving the car was also pretty hysterical. And it also seemed bizarre that of all the dead characters he was seeing before bleeding out and dying, he never saw that dead girlfriend that got him all torn up. Weird. The sheer length of time it took Tyrese to die just made it all seem like a big joke as well. Sometimes stretching out a character’s death results in unintentional laughs as well (see Matrix Revolutions) and this was a crowning achievement for that.
Also, I hate to point this out, but Tyrese was another example of the unfortunate pattern that black male characters have on this show. Whenever a new one is introduced, one has to get killed off. Oscar joins the gang, so T-Dogg has to go, but then Tyresse shows up, so Oscar has to go. Father Gabriel gets introduced, so Bob had to go. Noah gets introduced, so Tyrese has to go. And it even continued after Tyrese. Morgan was coming back, so Noah had to get the ax. Knowing this pattern, I called it that Tyrese was on the chopping block and he actually died sooner than I predicted. I don’t mean to cry racism, but it is a very bizarre pattern.
1) Beth (Season 5, Episode 8)
The circumstances behind this particular death are so mindboggling that I am still not fully sure how to rationalize it in my brain. It was so bad that in my mind, I have chosen to pretend that the storyline surrounding this incident never happened and the death happened at an earlier point. (Beth died at the Prison. Governor shot her in the face and she died. That’s what my brain made up and I’m sticking to it!)
Seriously though, what was the point of keeping her alive another year if they were just going to kill her off in a storyline that amounted to nothing? Why even go to all the trouble of doing the Grady Memorial Hospital story arc if nothing was going to be gained from it?
I will start by looking at the scene itself. Why would Rick’s group agree to hold the prisoner trade INSIDE THE HOSPITAL? You are making a deal with crooked bad guys and you go into the belly of the beast to make the trade? This seems especially stupid when you consider they managed to make contact at a parking garage where they could have snipers and the area was walker free.
Why did the group buckle when Dawn made the power play to get Noah? What leverage did she have to make that demand? She let her prisoners go and the trade was made. She literally had nothing. Is she the worst negotiator ever? I guess she isn’t because Rick and the others acted like she had just pulled the mother of all trump cards. But like I said, she had no leverage over them. What was she going to do? She could order her guys to shoot, but if she did, Rick’s guys would just shoot back and everybody dies, so nobody wins. Were Rick’s guys not aware of this? Why didn’t Rick just go “If you start shooting, we start shooting, and we all die, so is that what you want?”. Dawn struck me as high strung and controlling, but nowhere near being crazy enough to let something like that go down. However, nobody called her on her BS and they just went along with it like she held all the cards when she really didn’t have any.
Why did Beth stab Dawn? What was she seeking to accomplish? Was she trying to cause everyone to die? By doing what she did, that easily could have happened. It was already a tense situation and for all intents and purposes, she fired the first shot that could have caused many more people to die. They gave Beth so much character development and established her as strong and smart, and in her last act, she endangered everyone in that hallway and got herself killed. She went out like an idiot, which rendered all her character development completely pointless. It was so bad, that I even tried to use behind the scenes wrestling jargon to try and explain it. Did the actress piss off one of the writers or producers and they just decided to “bury” her by giving her the worst death ever? Honestly, I’ll take any explanation at this point because none of it makes sense.
And finally, what was the point of the entire storyline? Why did they focus so much time on Beth if they were just going to throw her in the garbage can like that, the hospital itself was going to remain virtually unchanged, the lead “villain” Dawn got killed off, and almost nothing was gained from it? Heck, even the injury to Carol amounted to nothing (she got up out of that wheelchair pretty quick, didn’t she?). Oh the group got Noah, but he died a few episodes later and is already forgotten. I guess Noah was supposed to lead them up north to Alexandria, but they were heading in that direction anyway due to the DC mission with Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita.
Ultimately, the hospital was a completely pointless detour. It was a terrible sendoff for one of their characters, and it was a stupid ending to the show’s time in Georgia. I also can’t help but think that instead of wasting time with this, they could have extended the Terminus storyline which ultimately got disposed of as well.
As for Beth, I can sit here and name at least a dozen different outcomes for her that would have been better. They could have killed her a year prior by letting her be the first victim of Terminus. Could you imagine if the group got there and found out she had been eaten by a group of cannibals and at least the Terminus group would have gotten a victory over the group under their belt. They could have killed Beth at the end of the first hospital episode. At least there she could have died saving somebody and gone out a hero instead of a dumbass. Screw it! They probably could have killed her during her attempted suicide attempt in season 2. Again, her character development amounted to nothing, so killing her off much earlier would have at least not caused us to waste our time. Honestly, they could have shot her out of a cannon and it would have been better than what they did.
Heck they could have even kept her alive and let her use those tracking skills she supposedly picked up from Daryl to find the group again. She could have helped lead Morgan up North and they could have had adventures together. She could have picked up medical skills from being in the hospital and become the new medical expert for the group.
Ultimately, her demise felt like a symptom of the Walking Dead being a victim of its own success. Due to being such a huge ratings hit, they had to extend their seasons. Instead of shorter and more concise seasons, they had to expand to 16 episodes, which led to them having to stretch their material out more which probably led to them having to pad the show out with this stupid hospital arc. Every mid-season finale is expected to have a major death. Previous midseason finale’s delivered some gut-wrenching deaths, namely Sophia and Herschel. But whereas those deaths served a purpose and felt planned, more than any other death on the show, this one felt like they did it just for the sake of doing it rather than having it well thought out and executed.
That is my list for the lamest deaths in the history of the Walking Dead. Season 6 debuts tomorrow night. I am hoping I won’t have to amend this list by the time the season has concluded.