There have been a number of disturbing storylines on The Walking Dead over the course of the ten-season series. There have been cannibals and baseball-bat bashings, along with people murdered in their sleep, a child shot in the head, more murdered children, and, of course, a series of spiked, decapitated heads that were used to create a property line. One storyline early on, however, was cut at the last minute, because it was too dark for the series at the time.
Recall Axel, the recurring character played by Lew Temple during the prison run in season three? Originally, Axel was meant to be a serial killer, as the actor who played him, Lew Temple, told Talk Dead to Me podcast: “I showed up with the idea that it was going to be serial killer and foreboding, and then, the day-of, got a note to switch that. ‘No, no, we’ve gotta lighten things up a little bit. We’ve been pretty dark.’”
Instead of being a killer, we find out that Axel was in prison for robbing a store with a toy gun, and he becomes a likable character who befriends Carol. However, even after they decided not to immediately turn Axel into a villain, the series kept the idea in their back pocket in case they needed it.
“There were some episodes that are written where I do take Beth out into the woods and slaughter her,” Temple said on the podcast. “We didn’t get to any of those. That was why I kept buttoned up. He was going to come undone, be totally Henry Rollins-tattooed. The whole thing about being a drug addict was all a big facade. The thing about the squirt gun and pistol is all bullsh*t. Carol, he beats the sh*t out of her. I mean, just these really dark things that the writers were talking about.”
Sadly, Axel would soon become The Governor’s first victim, unceremoniously shot in the head while having a conversation with Carol and otherwise minding his own business.
Instead of turning Axel into a serial killer, the writers on The Walking Dead ultimately decided that they wanted The Governor to the be show’s first major living villain. Axel had to be sacrificed, although Temple suggests they considered killing someone else off instead. In fact, he says, Andrew Lincoln tried to talk the producers into keeping Axel around. It was not to be.
Of course, 10 seasons later, a serial-killer storyline sounds fairly tame for The Walking Dead. However, the idea of anyone “beating the sh*t out of Carol” sounds very dark, if only for the way in which Carol would eventually get her revenge.