The Walking Dead has never been a particularly subtle TV show. In its more than 100 episodes on the air, it’s made sure its audience understands one of its central theme: Life is fragile.
The way TWD does this best is by killing off its main and peripheral characters. The moments when these characters tragically (and sometimes heroically) shuffle off the post-apocalyptic mortal coil have ranged from heartbreaking to stomach turning.
And they shocked fans all over again in the Season 8 midseason finale, in which teenage hero Carl Grimes revealed that, thanks to a walker bite, he was not long for the world. Now, we mourn his loss, as do the characters. But Rick’s war with Negan will go on — and it will undoubtedly yield even more casualties.
At this point, especially with Carl’s recent death, it truly seems like no one is safe on The Walking Dead. But there is at least one character that should be safe through the end of the season. Here are our picks for the characters that have what it takes to make it through Season 8, ranked from least to most likely to survive.
Look, we all know that Morgan is leaving The Walking Dead. But it’s to join up with the crew on its spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead. So that has to mean he’s going to survive Season 8, right?
Not necessarily. Since Fear the Walking Dead started before the apocalypse, there’s a chance that Morgan could fit into FTWD’s narrative timeline before he met back up with Rick. And if that’s the case, then there’s actually a decent chance they will kill Morgan off before the war is all said and done.
When we first met Rosita, she was a steely eyed soldier with an incredible skill set. In the four seasons since, we have learned more about her and seen her at both her very best and her very worst. Since Negan killed the love of her life — she, more than many, has a reason to want him dead, and therefore a reason to keep going.
But that thirst for vengeance could ultimately be her downfall. And though she’s been around for years, Rosita still doesn’t feel like an essential part of The Walking Dead canon. If we lost her, it would be sad — and it would give Rick and his friends even more reason to fight. But it wouldn’t make or break the series if we had to say goodbye to her.
In many ways, Enid has come a long way from the moody girl that wouldn’t let anyone in. She’s bonded with Carl, and with Maggie, and she’s been happy to pull her own weight. But she’s also made some questionable decisions in The Walking Dead’s eighth season — and those could put her in danger.
If Enid ends up perishing during the All Out War, it may actually go a long way in driving Maggie’s desire to defeat Negan. It’s never fun to see a character become little more than a plot device — a way to move other characters’ stories forward. But since she’s never really emerged as a truly remarkable character, that may be exactly what Enid ends up becoming.
As a once-reluctant fighter in Rick’s war against Negan, Ezekiel has been brought to his breaking point in The Walking Dead Season 8. And the result seems to be that he’ll come out even stronger on the other side. It would be a shame to lose Ezekiel just as he’s beginning to tear his walls down and realize who he is.
But if The Walking Dead’s All Out War is going to mean anything, it has to result in some significant casualties. And that means some more prominent characters will have to perish.
Sure, it would be sad to see Ezekiel go down. But if his death came as a result of him finally throwing himself behind a cause he believed in? That would be a kind of poetic finish that the King himself could get behind.
At one point, the contingent of Walking Dead fans that love Daryl Dixon swore they’d riot if he died. And to be fair, many of them still wouldn’t be happy if the tracker bit the dust. But by now, Daryl has proven time and again that he has a tendency toward recklessness. And at some point, it’s not going to be plausible if he keeps barely evading death.
Daryl’s decisions in Season 8 have been especially frustrating. He’s lashing out at Rick and making bizarre decisions that are putting not only him, but others in serious danger.
Sure, many fans wouldn’t be happy about it. But if Daryl keeps behaving this way, his days simply have to be numbered. And from a storytelling perspective, that may not be a bad thing.
Though she started as a supporting character, Carol has become one of the most unforgettable players in The Walking Dead. She’s been through more ups and downs that we can count. And though she’s constantly pushing others away, she always manages to find a place for herself among her fellow survivors.
If you think about the character deaths that would have the most impact on The Walking Dead, Carol certainly comes to mind. In that way, it may be a smart move for them to kill her off. But her presence has offered a glimpse into the long effects of trauma that has helped make TWD more than just a show about zombies.
And so, it’s difficult to imagine a series like The Walking Dead without Carol in it.
Fans either love Negan, hate him, or love to hate him. And while he’s been a controversial force on The Walking Dead, there’s no denying he’s changed the landscape of the show forever.
The eighth season seems to be driving toward an ultimate showdown between Rick and Negan. And fans probably still assume that the good guys will win out, and the Saviors’ leader will go down.
But that may not necessarily mean he dies. The Walking Dead might actually be a more interesting series if it follows the comics, and keeps Negan around as a prisoner, and eventually a begrudging ally.
Forget, for a moment, the fact that Michonne featured prominently in Rick’s flash-forward from the Season 8 premiere. After all, Carl did too and, well, that didn’t really pan out.
Since she debuted on The Walking Dead, Michonne has played a crucial role in keeping the series interesting. She’s not only an essential ally for Rick because of her incredible fighting abilities. She’s a guiding force for good, and a grounding influence where the Grimes family is concerned.
If The Walking Dead killed off Michonne, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But it would dramatically shift the tone of the series even further into a dark hopelessness — especially since Rick will already lose his son. Right now, he, and the show, need that guiding force more than ever.
Most clues we’ve gotten in Season 8 seem to indicate that Rick survives. In fact, he survives so long that he gets to see a point in time in which life seems relatively normal. But there’s a chance the flash forwards in The Walking Dead’s 100th episode weren’t actually showing us the future. In fact, they could have been figments of Rick’s imagination — right before he dies.
Sure, it seems unlikely that TWD would kill off its most prominent character before the series ends. And it would be especially cruel for them to kill off the only other character that’s stuck around for the long haul. But Rick dying would definitely be the most headline-grabbing shocker The Walking Dead ever pulled off.
And there would be one character, specifically, who would be there to carry on his legacy should he perish.
From the very beginning, Maggie has shown she has what it takes to survive. And even before Glenn died in the Season 7 premiere, she was getting ready to solidify herself as a leader. In the episodes since, she’s risen above the grief of losing her husband, the violence inflicted on her allies, and the insane politics of life in an apocalypse. And she’s grown even stronger.
The Walking Dead is a show about death and destruction, yes. But it also offers glimmers of hope. And Maggie, taking her rightful place as a leader and a survivor, with her baby in tow, would be one such glimmer. In eight seasons, the series has done more to build Maggie up — and it would be simply senseless to snuff her out.
Follow Katherine Webb on Twitter @prufrox.
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