The first half of the seventh season of The Walking Dead has seen a number of deaths: Abraham, Glenn, Spencer, and Olivia were all killed by Negan or a Savior, while Heath is MIA. It looks like we’ll probably see another major death in the back half of season seven, as well.
Death has always been a major part of The Walking Dead, and speculation about who might die next has driven much of the conversation in the fan community. The threat of death that looms over the series is part of its appeal: Anyone can die. In fact, creator Robert Kirkman conceded last year that Rick, Carl, Michonne, Rosita, and even Daryl Dixon would eventually die in the series.
But probably not anytime soon. In fact, while violence and gore will always be a part of the fabric of The Walking Dead, the deaths of major characters is likely to slow in upcoming seasons. Kirkman said as much in the Letter Hacks of Issue #163 of the comics, an issue that teased some major events — and even led many to believe that Negan or Rick might die with a variant cover of Rick wearing Negan’s jacket and holding Lucille.
Here’s what Kirkman had to say in the Letter Hacks, which is a column at the end of most issues of the comic series where he answers questions and leaves a note for the readers:
In my opinion, there should be LESS death in the book now, MUCH less, because the careless people, the scared people … the people learning how to live in this world … are already dead. This is the cream of the crop, so to speak. So, yes, there can be a conflict like the Whisperer War, and there can be very little death. You think Michonne is going to just let herself get bitten by a zombie or stabbed by a Whisperer at this point? It wouldn’t be believable! Rick, Andrea, Carl, Jesus, Dwight, Negan, Maggie … these people are tempered steel! That’s not to say they’re invulnerable, or “safe” now … but it would take a LOT to kill them.
I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing for the series. There was a lot of backlash to the death of Glenn and Abraham, and not just because of the violence. Part of it felt like it was death for death’s sake, and truly, I’m not sure I have any desire to see someone on the same level as Glenn die in the series anytime soon. Through seven seasons, characters like Rick, Carl, Jesus, Dwight, Carol, Negan, and Maggie feel like television family, and while I do understand that turnover is expected — many of these characters have been on the series for seven years and might want to explore other options in their careers — I prefer to keep the core team around as much as possible. After all, much of why the front half of season seven faltered is because the focus was taken away from the core characters. No one wants to watch a bunch of Tara or Aaron episodes.
Besides, with fewer deaths, the writers will be forced to keep viewers locked in with great storylines rather than the looming threat of death to one of our favorite characters. With the core team, it also might finally mean huge pay raises for the characters Robert Kirkman insists on keeping around.