- The Walking Dead was known for its shocking character deaths that haunted the audience throughout its 11-season run.
- The deaths of characters like Dale, Sophia, Shiva, Lizzie, Hershel, Sasha, Abraham, Rosita, Carl, and Glenn left a lasting impact on viewers.
- These deaths often served as turning points for the show, changing the dynamics and pushing characters to their limits in a complex and haunting universe.
The Walking Dead was a horror series with zombies so character deaths were expected, but throughout its 11-season run, it also included some deaths that still haunt the audience. The Walking Dead was never shy about killing off its characters, and it set the tone for what was to come early on, killing off major characters since season 1, much to the audience’s surprise. Throughout the seasons, The Walking Dead provided a lot of drama, top-quality action, and great performances, as well as well-drawn characters, which is why some of the deaths hit harder.
The Walking Dead was based on Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard’s comic book series of the same name, and the series premiered on AMC in 2010. It followed a large ensemble cast of survivors of the zombie apocalypse trying to stay alive in dire situations, with constant attacks from zombies or other survivors. The Walking Dead ended with season 11 in 2022, but that was hardly the end of it. The Walking Dead timeline spawned multiple shows, spanning six spin-offs, including Fear the Walking Dead, which ended after an eight-season run. Because of how complex the universe is, it’s no surprise that it featured some haunting, heartbreaking deaths.
10 Dale Horvath
Season 2, Episode 11, “Judge, Jury, Executioner”
Dale, portrayed by Jeffrey DeMunn, was one of the earliest important deaths of the show. Dale kept the group together and acted as the moral compass, keeping all of them from changing in a world that no longer was the way they all remembered. He died in season 2, episode 11, “Judge, Jury, Executioner” after a zombie ripped into him. After he turned into a walker, Daryl (Norman Reedus) eventually shot him in the head as a mercy. His death proved to be a turning point for The Walking Dead, and everything changed for the group after Dale’s haunting death.
9 Sophia Peletier
Season 2, Episode 7, “Pretty Much Dead Already”
Sophia Peletier (Madison Lintz), Carol’s (Melissa McBride) daughter, went missing in season 2, and finding her was an important storyline in the upcoming episodes. Sophia’s coming out of the shed as a walker shocked the entire group, culminating with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) shooting her in the head in one of the most haunting moments of the entire season. Her death proved that no one in The Walking Dead was safe, and it was a vital turning point for Carol, who switched from being a victim to becoming one of the most fearless and bravest characters in the series.
8 Shiva The Tiger
Season 8, Episode 4, “Some Guy”
The first appearance of the domesticized tiger, Shiva, was unexpected on a show like The Walking Dead. Owned by former zookeeper King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Shiva and Ezekiel were introduced in season 7. Although no one would’ve expected an animal to last long on the show, Shiva’s death in The Walking Dead came in season 8, episode 4, “Some Guy.” The tiger’s death was one of the most haunting and emotional moments of the show, as it gave an injured Ezekiel the possibility to escape, bringing everything back to a bleak reality.
7 Lizzie Samuels
Season 4, Episode 14, “The Grove”
Lizzie, played by Brighton Sharbino, and her sister Mika (Kyla Kenedy), made their first appearance in the premiere episode of The Walking Dead season 4, and they both died in episode 14, “The Grove.” Lizzie had always been different, and the episode still haunts many of the show’s fans due to its gruesome nature. Lizzie casually kills her sister to make a point about zombies, and Carol and Tyreese (Chad Coleman) debate what to do about her. Carol ends up taking Lizzie out into a field and shoots her in the back of the head after telling her to “look at the flowers,” one of The Walking Dead‘s most memorable quotes.
6 Hershel Greene
Season 4, Episode 8, “Too Far Gone”
Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) took over Dale’s moral compass role and became Rick’s conscience when they moved to the prison. Up until The Governor (David Morrissey), the dangers in The Walking Dead universe were mostly the undead, yet the character changed that, and became one of The Walking Dead‘s most dangerous villains. In an unexpected twist in “Too Far Gone,” The Governor swiftly decapitated Hershel after Rick’s attempts to negotiate a way without violence. What was even more haunting about Hershel’s death was that his decapitated head turned into a zombie, and Michonne (Danai Gurira) had to end his suffering.
5 Sasha Williams
Season 7, Episode 16, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life”
Sasha Williams, played by Sonequa Martin-Green, was one of the longest-surviving characters on The Walking Dead, after being introduced in season 3, alongside her older brother, Tyreese. Sasha’s death in season 7 was one of the most memorable moments of the show. She did it to save the lives of the people from Alexandria in the final episode of season 7, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life.” Sasha was ready to end Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and she took her own life while being caught in a casket, so she could turn into a zombie and kill Negan when he opened it. Her plan failed, yet it was one of the haunting and brave decisions on The Walking Dead.
Season 7, Episode 1, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”
Abraham Ford, played by Michael Cudlitz, made his first appearance in season 4, episode 10, and he was a recurring character until the season 7 premiere, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be.” After a cliffhanger finale introducing The Walking Dead’s villain Negan, Abraham is revealed to be Negan’s chosen victim for Rick’s subordination. What was so haunting about his death was how stoic he took it, and bravely disrespected Negan before his gruesome death. Negan choosing Abraham wasn’t following the comic book exactly, as Abraham is shot in the head by one of the survivors, giving the viewers a glimpse of hope about Glenn’s faith in The Walking Dead.
3 Rosita Espinosa
Season 11, Episode 24, “Rest in Peace”
Rosita, played by Christian Serratos, first appeared in The Walking Dead in season 4, alongside Abraham. She was one of the longest-surviving characters and, as the series finale got closer, it seemed like she might actually make it since season 11 didn’t heavily kill off main characters as it used to. However, Rosita’s death in The Walking Dead happened right in the season finale, “Rest in Peace.” As she survived many near-death experiences in the last episode, she eventually managed to save her baby, but not herself. Although Rosita had a relatively peaceful ending, her tragic death was incredibly haunting, as she almost managed to outlive the show and maybe even get her own spin-off series.
2 Carl Grimes
Season 8, Episode 9, “Honor”
Carl Grimes, played by Chandler Riggs, was just a child when the events of The Walking Dead started. He grew up throughout the show’s seasons and became a fearless warrior, but also a caring friend, brother, and son. Carl’s impactful death in Walking Dead season 8, episode 9, “Honor” happened after a walker managed to bite Carl in the abdomen. He tried to hide the wound for as long as he could, spending time with his sister, and writing several letters to his family and friends. Carl’s death was surprising and haunting because of his importance in the comics, and it caused a lot of backlash, with fans criticizing the decision.
Season 7, Episode 1, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”
Glenn Rhee, played by Steven Yeun, had arguably the most impactful death of the series. Although the character was always meant to die because of Negan, the anticipation of Glenn’s graphic death proved to be one of the best moments of the entire series. Glenn was a fan-favorite character in The Walking Dead, and his death was already canon in the comics. However, Negan smashing his head with his baseball bat, Lucille, in the tense premiere of season 7 was one of the most nerve-wracking and haunting moments of the show.