After the first couple of episodes, in addition to potentially become the greatest season of The Walking Dead so far, the confluence of two elements has made the potential ever greater: 1) The Walking Dead has rid itself of most of the most annoying characters, so we’re now mostly invested in the series regulars, and 2) the series seems to have completely broken with the source material. That’s not to say that characters from Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels won’t continue to make appearances, and that some situations in both the novels and the television show may parallel one another, but they are so far afield on the television series that the show has become completely unpredictable.
The unpredictability of the series is great, because now we really don’t know who will live and who will survive until the next season, or even the next episode. It’s added another layer of tension to the series, as we dread the worst: That our favorite character or characters will be snuffed out. There are 11 and a half series regulars on the show now (not including The Governor, who will almost certainly die this season, if only because David Morrissey has other series commitments). It’s also much tougher to choose who should die and who should live, but this is how I would rank them:
12. Beth Greene — Only just elevated to series regular this season, Beth hasn’t really become a major force on the show yet. That’s not to say that she can’t, and in finally taking out a zombie last season, she is showing some potential, and there is an ever-so-slight hint that she could develop a crush on Daryl. But for now, Beth’s role in the show is primarily looking after the baby, providing the occasional emotional support, and showing little feeling when her boyfriend is killed. Beth understands that everyone’s time is limited, and that she should appreciate the time she does have with other characters, instead of mourning the time she doesn’t. That’s kind of how I feel about Beth: She’s OK to have around, but I wont’ be too broken up if she is killed off.
11. Hershel Greene — I feel bad putting father and daughter together at the bottom of this list (although, seeing them go together would be preferable), but the truth is, Hershel hasn’t much to offer the series anymore, except for some sage words from a wise old man. Yes, he farms, and yes, he’s a great elder who provides some occasional guidance (especially to Rick), but he’s not really necessary to the survival of the rest of the crew anymore. I would be very sad to lose Hershel, but the series wouldn’t skip a beat without him.
10. Sasha — Sasha — also elevated to series regular this season — actually displays incredible potential, and she’s already demonstrated some brilliant ass-kicking skills. But we haven’t really emotionally bonded with her yet. That could still come in the future episodes, and she could become a great character. But for now, she’s kind of like the litter sister with a big attitude. She is expendable.
9. Carol Peletier — This is where it starts to hurt. Losing Carol would suck, especially for Daryl, who has developed a tight emotional bond with her (that is perhaps romantic in nature). She’s great around camp, too, schooling the kids in zombie survival tactics. But, I think, protecting the very children she’s teaching to protect themselves could be a fitting end for Carol, maybe even later this season. It would blow, but once she’s built a new generation of zombie fighters, Carol also becomes expendable.
8. Glenn Rhee — Glenn has come a very long way since the early seasons, when he was a weak, cap-wearing pizza boy. He’s moved from tertiary character to fan favorite to a period last season where he was kind of an asshole. But at this point, Glenn’s major role in the series is that of the love interest to Maggie, and while they are an adorable couple, now that they are together, there doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of room to grow anymore. The relationship could get stale (in fact, it’s already showing some signs of that), and I’m not sure I want Glenn around for three more seasons chivalrously holding his girlfriend back from a fight. LET HER FIGHT.
7. Rick Grimes — If there is one character on the show that has the potential to become the new Lori or the new Andrea, I guess it is Rick. I don’t necessarily agree with those that have found him increasingly annoying, but I do agree that now that he’s stepped out of his leadership role, he’s not as useful to the group anymore. I do think he could be again, and I’m not sure what the show would look like without its lead character, and the grounding force of the series, but I think it could move on, especially if a new leader arises. The show has done about as much with Rick as it can, so it may be to the character’s best interest to let him go before The Walking Dead fanbase turns on him.