The eighth season of The Walking Dead kicks off on October 22nd, less than two weeks from now. Andrew Lincoln has already promised “big deaths” in the upcoming season, and Lennie James has warned us that at least one “beloved character” will be killed off this season. Season 8 is the All Out War, so it’s safe to assume that a lot of characters will die. Mostly, however, it will be lower-tier characters or one of the many redshirts in The Kingdom and the Hilltop Colony, or most of Negan’s henchman.
However, there will be some losses among major characters, as well. Who is the most likely to die? Let’s place odds:
(Warning: There are some comics spoilers)
Rick (100-1) — “No one is safe,” Robert Kirkman likes to remind viewers of The Walking Dead, and he always includes Rick among those who are not safe. In fact, he recently stated that Rick will die before the end of The Walking Dead‘s run. “It could happen any time between now and 50 years from now,” he said. But it won’t happen now. Or even in the eighth season, because we’ve seen the flash-forward of Old Man Rick in the season eight trailer. That happens after the All Out War, so at the very least, he’s going to survive this season.
Carol (100-1) — While Robert Kirkman has repeatedly said that “no one is safe,” he actually amended that a few years back and said that there is one character who is safe: Carol. Not killing her a few seasons back, as originally planned, was the best decision the show has ever made. It should never backtrack on that decision.
Daryl (95-1) — Still the biggest fan favorite of the series, a TV creation, and the reason several other characters on the show have been killed off, Daryl is almost certainly not going anywhere. However, Norman Reedus (who plays Daryl) and Andrew Lincoln are the highest-paid actors on the series ($650K per episode), and Reedus’ existing contract only runs through the end of season eight, so if ratings falter and AMC decides it needs to save some money moving ahead, killing off Daryl might be an easy way to shave $10 million off the show per season. My guess is that the riot that would ensue would cost the show more than $10 million in lost fans, however.
Michonne (90-1) — Anything could happen, of course, and with Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and her very successful career as a playwright, Danai Gurira could beg off of The Walking Dead to pursue other opportunities, but there’s no real reason to think that her character won’t survive this season. Michonne has filled part of Andrea’s role from the comics, however, so next season may be a different story altogether.
Maggie (90-1) — She’s the last remaining Greene, and after the death of Glenn last season, I don’t think viewers’ hearts could take it if we also lost Maggie. It would be too cruel to kill her off. Barring Lauren Cohan landing a major gig on another television show, the odds of her being killed off are slim to none. That said, there’s always a chance. The show will flash forward a few years this season and Scott Gimple says that she will not be giving birth this season. There’s are a variety of scenarios to explain that and one of them is that Maggie loses the baby. An even worse scenario? That Maggie dies before she can give birth.
Negan (80-1) — I think most people know that Negan does not die at the end of the All Out War in the comics and that the jail cell that Morgan built will eventually come in handy where it concerns Negan. He’s a huge presence on this show, and after losing Abraham, Glenn, and Sasha last season, TWD can’t lose another big presence before filling that void. It’s possible that Jeffrey Dean Morgan only signed on until the end of the All Out War, but Negan still has a huge backstory to cover, and from what I understand, that has not yet been incorporated into season 8. They could incorporate into the latter half of the season, but I think it’s safe to say it will be pushed into season 9. His role in the events after the All Out War is too important to kill off in the television series. (Plus, fans love Negan.)
Carl (80-1) — Carl is probably not going anywhere, either. His role on the show, in fact, will be beefed up after the time jump, and there’s no real narrative reason to get rid of Carl. However, there is one caveat. Chandler Riggs — who plays Carl — is making plans to go to college. Those plans do not necessarily mean that he’ll leave the show, but there’s always that possibility.
Jesus — (70-1) — Jesus has a major development occurring in his life well after the All Out War in the comics, so he is probably safe this season. Also, my gut also says that while most of the folks from The Kingdom and The Hilltop will be killed off this season, each will have at least one representative stick around for the ninth season. Jesus could be that rep for The Hilltop Colony.
Morgan (20-1) — With so many expected deaths this season, this is where the odds begin to increase dramatically. Morgan is already dead in the comics. He’s a great character on the series, and Lennie James is phenomenal but Morgan’s arc has been pretty much exhausted. When he returned to The Walking Dead, he was the guy who would not kill another living being. He’s killed now, and with the All Out War impending, he’s probably going to kill a lot more. After that, Morgan has lost his defining characteristic, and while Scott Gimple could give Morgan another story arc, it’s just as likely that we’re about to see the end of the line for Morgan.
Tara/Aaron/Rosita (10-1) — Tara, Aaron, and Rosita are all fine characters, but they’re not fan favorites. They’re not indispensable. They’re major enough characters that their deaths could have an impact, but not so much that fans would miss them terribly. I think that one of the three will almost certainly die, and if I had to guess which one it will be, I’d choose Tara, simply because she’s not a comic character while both Rosita and Aaron are still alive in the comics.
Father Gabriel (9-1) — Gabriel doesn’t die during the All Out War in the comics, but he could in the TV show. From what we know of the season eight trailer, Gabriel is going to be spending some alone time with Negan. That necessarily puts him in danger. He’s also fully redeemed himself on the series, so it’s a good time, narratively speaking, to send him on his way.
Dwight (4-1) — Daryl and Dwight are a lot alike, but Daryl is a TV creation and Dwight is a comics character. They can easily fulfill the same functions going ahead. They’re on different sides right now, but once Dwight fully transitions into Rick’s camp, they become more or less redundant. If Scott Gimple had to choose between keeping Dwight or keeping Daryl, I think we all know how easy a choice that is for him to make.
Eugene (3-1) — I love Eugene, and he brings to the series some much needed comic relief. But he switched sides. He sold out Rick. Notwithstanding the suicide pill he slipped to Sasha, I don’t see how he can easily transition back into Rick’s camp after all is said and done. There’s been too much betrayal. It will be heartbreaking, but Eugene’s gotta go.
Jadis (2-1) — Jadis and the Junkyard Gang are a television creation, and best I can tell, their only function is as a wild card in the All Out War. Once the War is over, Jadis ceases to be useful to the series, so I doubt she’ll see season 9.
Gregory (3-2) — He sold out the Hilltop and Negan doesn’t trust a snitch (see Spencer). Gregory will be lucky to make it through the season premiere.
Ezekiel (1.5/1) — The season will need one huge, heartbreaking, sacrificial death, and unfortunately, I think that’s going to be Ezekiel. He’ll die protecting someone else (Carol, perhaps) and Shiva will somehow be involved. Viewers will cry. It will probably be the best episode of the season. I think almost everyone else from The Kingdom will die, too, but I think/hope that the one representative from that community to survive will be… Jerry. Especially if Eugene dies, the series will need Jerry to provide an occasional break from the grimness.