In the fourth midseason finale of Fear the Walking Dead, showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss made a bold — and to some, unforgivable — choice to kill off the series’ nominal lead, Madison Clark, played by Kim Dickens. The decision did not sit well with some longtime fans of the series (the Fear the Walking Dead subreddit was apoplectic). Much of the ire over the last two weeks has been directed at Scott Gimple, the chief content officer of The Walking Dead and, to many, the architect of both this turn and the death of Carl on The Walking Dead. (Gimple is gaining a Joss Whedon-like reputation where it concerns killing off beloved characters.)
Nevertheless, for a myriad of reasons, I believe the decision to kill off Madison Clark made sense for Fear the Walking Dead — both from a storytelling and character standpoint, and for being an important step in progressing the series ahead.
At the outset, however, I should clarify that I think Kim Dickens is a brilliant actress who has had remarkable turns in shows like Deadwood and Treme. She is not only one of the best actors on TV, but one of my favorite actors, period. She was the reason I was most excited about The Walking Dead spin-off when it was announced. Unfortunately, as she was for several seasons on Sons of Anarchy, her talents were often wasted on Fear the Walking Dead. Over the course of the first three seasons, the writers basically assassinated her character, much as they had destroyed another once stellar character in Andrea on The Walking Dead, with a series of poor choices (most of which veered from the source material).