- The Walking Dead frequently uses death fake-outs, which can range from lasting one episode to multiple seasons.
- Some deaths in The Walking Dead are painful to watch regardless of any prior fake-outs, proving the franchise isn’t afraid to kill off characters, such as Glenn and Abraham’s deaths in Season 7.
- The frequent use of death fake-outs in the franchise is curious, as it can be both infuriating and intriguing to see how the show leans into this trope.
The Walking Dead puts its fans through the ringer with how it endangers characters, but sometimes death fake-outs make it even worse. Although death fake-outs can create a major reveal later down the line or are introduced for logistical reasons, it can be frustrating from a viewer’s perspective. Death fake-outs in The Walking Dead universe are somewhat of a trend, and these can range from lasting one episode to multiple seasons.
On the other hand, some deaths in The Walking Dead can be painful to watch regardless of any prior fake-outs, proving the franchise isn’t afraid to kill off characters. For instance, Glenn and Abraham’s deaths in The Walking Dead‘s season 7 premiere. Therefore, despite the annoyance of death fake-outs, it does sometimes give a character’s arc new direction and is less upsetting than actual deaths in the show. While some fake-outs are more infuriating than others, it’s curious to explore the impact of this trope being used so frequently.
The Walking Dead’s Best Character Death From Each Of The Show’s 11 Seasons
The best character deaths from the 11 seasons of The Walking Dead are also some of the most impactful, as they change the course of the show.
8 Connie & Magna
The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 9, “Squeeze”
The Walking Dead
- Release Date
- October 31, 2010
- Steven Yeun , Andrew Lincoln , Chandler Riggs , Laurie Holden , Jeffrey DeMunn , Sarah Wayne Callies , Melissa McBride , Norman Reedus , Jon Bernthal , Iron E. Singleton
Taking place at the height of the Whisperer War, Connie and Magna’s death fake-out was fairly devastating because it seemed to cut these characters’ stories short prematurely. Their perceived deaths seemed final considering they were in a cave-in caused by dynamite, trapped with a herd of walkers. Magna returned in episode 12 and Connie in episode 16. Why their death fake-outs weren’t as upsetting is because many fans believed Connie would have to return to properly explore the implied romantic feelings between her and Daryl, and Magna’s character would need a redemption arc to make her more complex.
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7 Troy Otto
Fear The Walking Dead Season 3, Episode 15, “Things Bad Begun”
Fear the Walking Dead
- Release Date
- August 23, 2015
- Cliff Curtis , Frank Dillane , mercedes mason , Elizabeth Rodriguez , Kim Dickens , Ruben Blades , lorenzo james henrie , Alycia Debnam-Carey , Colman Domingo
As one of the main antagonists in Fear The Walking Dead season 3, Troy’s perceived death wasn’t received badly by fans. However, despite his recklessness and violent tendencies, the second half of the season gave him the start of redemption with him, Madison, and her group working to establish a safe base. Troy’s death being fake was upsetting because survival seemed impossible, considering Madison bludgeoned him with a hammer.
Miraculously, he survived the head trauma and being in a flood when the dam wall was destroyed. His return in Fear The Walking Dead season 8 as a primary antagonist helped redeem Troy in an arc he should have gotten previously, making the disbelief that he survived easier to let go. Additionally, bringing back a character tightly linked to the earlier days of Madison and Alicia’s storyline was a clever way to help conclude both their storylines too. This involved Troy getting killed by Madison (for real this time) in season 8, episode 11.
6 Rick Grimes (First Time)
The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 12, “Say Yes”
Rick’s fake-out death in season 7, episode 12 was not as infuriating as one would think considering he was a main character. This was mainly because it was quickly revealed within the same episode to be a fake-out. Rick found himself surrounded by walkers and then a scene showing walkers eating something made it seem like Officer Friendly had met his demise. What made this one particularly sad, though, was Michonne’s belief that he was dead. Luckily, after Michonne almost fell victim to the walkers, Rick tossed her the katana.
Giving viewers a brief moment of what it would be like to lose Rick Grimes was mildly upsetting, especially for him to die in one of the more common fake-out ways in the franchise – by way of a horde. However, the way the moment progressed Rick and Michonne’s relationship made it somewhat more forgivable than other death fake-outs. The pair agreed to go on even if one of them died in order to maintain a steady life for Judith and Carl, thus setting up a recurring theme of preserving family units during loss.
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5 Daniel Salazar
Fear The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 7, “Shiva”
Daniel’s supposed death was particularly horrible because his character was so strong and adaptable in the apocalypse that to lose him so early on in Fear The Walking Dead in an off-screen death felt like a disservice. He poured gasoline in Celia’s wine cellar filled with walkers. Because of his hallucinations of his wife and all those he’d killed, he was last seen in season 2 with the fire rapidly spreading around him.
Daniel only returned in the following season, despite the whole compound being destroyed due to the fire he started. This fake-out was frustrating because it’s somewhat of a trademark for Daniel. Similarly, from the end of season 3, Daniel was missing for a whole season after last being seen at the dam as the explosives were set off to destroy it. While his fake-outs certainly created a sometimes contrived and broken pace to his story arc, it’s less the show’s doing and more because of Daniel’s actor Rubén Blades having a successful music career as well (via Digital Spy).
4 Rick Grimes (Second Time)
The Walking Dead Season 9, Episode 5, “What Comes After”
Rick’s season 7 death fake-out certainly made his season 9 one hurt a lot more. His and Michonne’s promise to go on was made more emotional by Rick’s final episode in The Walking Dead – season 9, episode 5. The episode picked up after he got impaled by a metal rod, and it followed a very neatly structured farewell narrative. The fake-out happened near the end of the episode where Rick supposedly sacrificed himself by shooting at dynamite on the community-connecting bridge, causing it, the walkers, and himself to be blown off.
Audiences could suspect this was Rick’s end because the episode was presented as a send-off, including major cameos from Rick’s life in the form of hallucinations, such as Shane, Hershel, and Michonne. Luckily, after the smoke cleared, Rick was shown on the shore, barely moving, before Jadis took him away in a CRM helicopter. Although devastating, if this fake-out had been real, it’s much more fitting for Rick’s character since he was acting with protecting his family and friends in mind. Moreover, how quickly it was revealed as a fake-out made it less upsetting because of the trope and more due to audiences having to accept Andrew Lincoln’s Rick exit anyway.
3 Madison Clark
Fear The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 8, “No One’s Gone”
Madison’s death fake-out was probably one of the worst ones because the entire first half of season 4 was structured around holding off on revealing her apparent death to make its reveal more emotional. Her actions that led to the supposed death were significant because they highlighted how much she was willing to give up to save her family and friends. Moreover, by sacrificing herself, she set off deep motivations behind many of Alicia’s future actions, namely battling between helping others, finding purpose, and grieving about losing both her mother and brother.
Madison led a massive herd of walkers into the baseball stadium with a flare, then set a fire to engulf them and her in the flames. While at the time this wasn’t more than a tragic but justifiable death, her return in season 8 made her sacrifice seem hollow and undermined the gravity of her fake death in season 4. Additionally, it was questionable since her survival was unrealistic. If that’s not enough, the show recycled the same pattern in season 8 when Madison destroyed PADRE, albeit with a clearer nod to how she could survive – by keeping her oxygen mask on and trapping herself in a confined space.
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2 Alicia Clark
Fear The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 15, “Amina”
While Alicia’s return at the end of season 8 and her legacy weaved through the season made the fake-out more forgivable, the way in which they had her disappear in season 7 was frustrating. For most of season 7, Alicia was fairly ill after being bitten and having to amputate her arm. Alicia’s last episode in season 7 had her chasing hallucinations of a young girl who turned out to be her, while near death. Having her stay behind in a radiation-filled Texas suggested Alicia would finally meet her devastating fate after months of fighting off the infection.
However, when Alicia’s fever miraculously broke and she returned to The Tower to help anyone who heard her radio message, the fake-out seemed like more of an unnecessarily drawn-out slow death that never materialized. This was rather for the sake of symbolically showcasing Alicia’s responsibility being lifted since her friends got away. Additionally, season 8 further suggested her off-screen death with Troy claiming to have killed her. While much of this was due to Alicia’s actress Alycia Debnam-Carey exiting to pursue other projects, it did upset fans, considering how much of a favorite Alicia became over the course of Fear The Walking Dead.
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1 Glenn Rhee
The Walking Dead Season 6, Episode 3, “Thank You”
By far, one of the instances in the franchise with the biggest uproar was Glenn’s death fake-out in season 6. Arguably, because this was the first major fake-out in the franchise and Glenn was such a popular character, the fake-out felt in poor taste and more for shock value than narrative progression. Although the fake-out only lasted four episodes compared to Alicia’s almost season-long absence, it introduced a trend that called into question the finality of death in the franchise. Glenn conveniently survived a massive group of walkers piling on top of him and Nicholas after the latter acted as a shield and Glenn hid under a dumpster.
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Delaying the reveal that this was fake for multiple episodes was made even worse by the fact that the fake-out did little to progress the narrative forward. The shock was also suspended by a completely unrelated narrative since the following episode was about Morgan’s journey from killer to pacifist after he encountered Eastman. Delaying reactions from the Alexandrians and the weak tease at what could happen in the franchise added to why Glenn’s death fake-out was so upsetting. Whether adding to a later story arc, abiding by actors’ schedules, or just for shock value, The Walking Dead universe leans into the death fake-out trope perhaps more than it should.
Source: Digital Spy