Nobody likes to lose a paying gig, least of all actors working on one of the most popular shows on television. However, being killed off is one of the hazards of working on The Walking Dead, which has killed off more characters than almost any show in television history. “No one is safe,” the show’s creator, Robert Kirkman, has often warned, and that has proven to be true even for some of the most show’s longest-running and most popular characters. More than 25 “series regulars” have been killed off in 10 seasons, not to mention numerous other recurring characters. Some actors have left the show of their own volition (Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira, whose characters are both still alive) and some knew from the beginning that when they’d be killed off (Jon Bernthal, Scott Green),
The deaths of some other characters, however, not only came as a surprise to the actors but left some of them less than pleased with the circumstances surrounding their death. Though they obviously knew coming in that they could die at any time, they still felt burned by their exits.
Here are five such examples:
5. Laura (Lindsley Register)
Register is an example of one of those recurring characters who managed to rack up 20 episodes of the series, and although few people knew her character’s name by the end, everyone probably recognized her face. She was a high-ranking member of Negan’s Saviors before being absorbed by the Alexandrians, and she was killed by Beta in a clash that left her with a broken neck. It wasn’t clear, however, that she had died until she appeared in the In Memoriam section on The Talking Dead. Register revealed that she was “disappointed” she didn’t get to have another confrontation with Negan, but she said she was “thrilled” to die while fighting one of the show’s best villains, Beta. Fans were upset about Laura’s exist, and Register clearly appreciated how upset they were that she’d been killed off, retweeting some of their tweets, like these two:
JUSTICE FOR LAURA
#TWD #TheWalkingDead @LindsleyRegi
— Meg the Geek! (@megthegeek) March 2, 2020
They did her dirty. @LindsleyRegi really gonna miss you on the show!! Hope to see you at Fandemic Dead in October!! https://t.co/iuQLHEsCFR
— colton (@coltonW1997) March 2, 2020
4. Jesus (Tom Payne)
Jesus’ death, which came during the ninth midseason finale and coincided with the introduction of the Whisperers, was one of the show’s better kills, in part because it was so surprising. No one saw it coming because Tom Payne’s character still figured into the comic series. Payne, who has since gone on to star in the Fox series Prodigal Son, wasn’t upset about being killed off. He thought that The Walking Dead did him dirty by not taking better advantage of him while he was on the show. “I was kind of frustrated with what I had gotten to do on the show and I was kind of a bit bored with it,” Payne said of his role as Jesus. “If I wasn’t being given anything, I was kind of ready to go.” Instead of being disappointed by his death, Tom Payne was relieved.
3. Madison Clark (Kim Dickens)
One of the most surprising deaths in all 17 seasons of The Walking Dead universe was the exit of Kim Dickens’ character, Madison, in the fourth midseason finale of Fear the Walking Dead. No one, it seems, was more surprised by it than Kim Dickens herself. She was the nominal lead of the series, and while she took her exit well, her statements over the years have made it obvious that it wasn’t her decision and she wasn’t that pleased with it. “They saw my disappointment,” Dickens said of her reaction when she was told she’d be killed off. “They saw what I disagreed with about it.” She said that the decision “shocking to me and it was disappointing. It was heartbreaking.” The one upside, however, is that the Fear producers are now open to the possibility of bringing Madison back, and apparently, there are even discussions of that.
2. Andrea (Laurie Holden)
One character who exited The Walking Dead many, many seasons ahead of schedule was Laurie Holden’s Andrea, who was killed off at the end of season three. Unfortunately for Holden, her death became practically a necessity for the series, after the character assassination the writers pulled on Andrea, which turned TWD fans against her so harshly that they had to kill her off. It wasn’t that Holden had an issue with her death itself; she thought that showrunner Glen Mazzara did her character dirty long before she died. “I think the departure from book Andrea to the screen was a mistake. I mean, it’s not like I couldn’t pull it off. I think the whole stuff that they wrote about Andrea and the Governor was complete and utter nonsense. I did the best that I could to tell that narrative and to justify it where Andrea kept her heart.”
In fact, Laurie Holden had an eight-year deal on the series, but in spite of that, she learned the night before that she was being killed off. “I got the call at 10 o’ clock the night before, while I was shooting, from the showrunner who is no longer a part of The Walking Dead, saying that they couldn’t write the episode and that he was killing my character. So, we all got the script, [and] everybody on the set was sobbing. I felt like I got shot. None of it was supposed to happen the way it did.”
1. Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs)
No one got done dirty worse than Carl Grimes, who was supposed to make it to the end of the series, but who inexplicably was killed off in a painfully anticlimactic fashion in the eighth season. It’s still not entirely clear why Carl was killed off the series, except that then showrunner Scott Gimple thought it might inject some juice into the flagging ratings. Riggs took it hard, saying that it was “devastating” to lose something that was such “a huge part of his life,” but he was much kinder than his own father, who reacted with anger. “Watching Gimple fire my son 2 weeks before his 18th birthday after telling him they wanted him for the next 3 years was disappointing. I never trusted Gimple or AMC but Chandler did. I know how much it hurt him.”
For his part, while Riggs has spoken about his exit numerous times over the years, he has since taken responsibility for his exit, blaming his own poor performance (“I sucked when it mattered”), and often making fun of himself.