Glenn frightened

"The Walking Dead" ended its 11th and last season with a bang. While three spinoffs are coming soon, including "Dead City," it was the final farewell to the flagship series. Throughout its run, diehard fans came to care deeply about its characters and were glued to their televisions, hooked into stories about survival and keeping humanity intact. Characters such as Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) made the show what it quickly became — a ratings juggernaut. It may not have reached the creative heights of "Breaking Bad" or "Game of Thrones," but it had immense heart. When a character was put on the chopping block, it was often a devastating, soul-rattling experience.

Across 11 seasons, there were plenty of deaths that broke millions of hearts. Whether you’re talking about that Season 2 barn reveal, the emergency C-section, or that baseball bat scene in Season 7, the show relentlessly forced its audience to face death and perhaps question their mortality. With "The Walking Dead" in the rearview mirror, let’s look back at the show’s most upsetting deaths. Get those tissues ready. You’ll need them.


Hershel long hair

Up until his death, Hershel (Scott Wilson) was the heart of "The Walking Dead." A farmer by trade, he was a good Christian man who wanted to do right by his daughters, Beth (Emily Kinney) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan). Introduced in Season 2, he didn’t come into his own until later. Throughout Seasons 3 and 4, Hershel was the lifeblood of the show, a stalwart force and moral compass for the group. After Carl (Chandler Riggs) guns down a kid who’s part of the Governor’s (David Morrissey) armed militia, Hershel informs Rick that something is seriously wrong with his son. That’s just the kind of man Hershel was. He was often the voice of reason, taking up that mantle after Dale’s (Jeffrey DeMunn) unexpected demise, and helped keep the group from losing their humanity.

Season 4 begins three months after the previous season’s events. The Governor has disappeared without a trace and is presumed dead. Little does the group know, he’s busy rebuilding his dictatorship after befriending Tara (Alanna Masterson) and her sister Lily (Audrey Anderson). When he reappears, he takes Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Hershel hostage and heads to the prison, where he threatens to kill them unless Rick and company vacate the premises. When negotiation doesn’t work, the Governor gruesomely chops off Hershel’s head. It’s one of the show’s most disturbing, emotional, and just plain devastating moments. I still haven’t recovered.


Noah zombies glass door

Noah (Tyler Williams) wasn’t long for this world. In Season 5, we first meet him in an Atlanta hospital, where he’s essentially being held prisoner and forced to work. Police officer Dawn (Christine Woods) upholds the law with a forceful hand. When Beth arrives, Noah takes her under his wing and helps her acclimate to a new way of life. Because Dawn and her team "saved" her out on the road, Beth now owes them and must work off her debt.

After Beth’s death, Noah becomes a reason for the group to soldier on to his hometown in Virginia. Their journey leads to the revelation that Noah’s entire family has been wiped out by unknown assailants. Now in the Washington, D.C. area, Rick and the group find themselves crossing paths with Aaron (Ross Marquand) from the walled community of Alexandria. There, the group finds refuge from the outside world.

However, things aren’t as they seem. Most of the residents inside Alexandria’s walls are not equipped to handle walkers. On a scavenging mission led by Nicholas (Michael Traynor), a small group that includes Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Noah is overrun by walkers and becomes trapped inside revolving doors. Nicholas freaks out and forces his side of the doors open, which results in Noah being swept away into a horde of walkers. As Glenn watches, walkers rip Noah’s face into a mangled mess. Just when you’ve warmed up to Noah, the show kills him off — so much wasted potential.


Sophia zombie barn door

The first innocent character to be killed is Sophia (Madison Lintz). In Season 2, the group searches around the highway and surrounding woods for Carol’s (Melissa McBride) daughter. As walkers march through the rubble, everyone hides out beneath abandoned cars. It seems to be a safe bet. That is until Sophia pokes her head out and a walker lurches toward her. She panics and scampers away into the woods. Rick quickly follows and instructs her to hide inside an uprooted tree until he can kill two walkers.

Rick returns to find Sophia missing. From there, it’s unclear what exactly happens to her. Only when the group eventually makes its way to Hershel’s isolated farm do they learn she has been bitten and turned into a walker. Shane, being the hothead he is, storms the barn where Hershel keeps walkers captive and breaks the chains on the door. Walkers flood out, and the group is forced to kill them.

The very last walker to emerge is none other than Sophia. Everyone is gutted, frozen in time. Carol runs ahead and is only stopped when Daryl tackles her to the ground. "Sophia…" Carol’s voice cracks with piercing emotion. A zombified Sophia stumbles forward, and it’s Rick who must put her down. He raises his revolver and pulls the trigger. The camera pans out and deafening silence — except for Carol’s cries — pushes in. It’s a masterfully performed moment that leaves you feeling utterly hopeless.


Beth Dawn elevator shaft

Beth didn’t find her strength until Season 5. After being taken by Dawn in the previous season, she finds herself in an Atlanta hospital where she must work in a caste system. She has a few bruises and a broken wrist but otherwise seems to be aware of her surroundings. She awakens to Dawn and Dr. Edwards (Erik Jensen) entering her room. "Now, you owe us," says Dawn.

Dawn believes it is her obligation to wait out the apocalypse until help arrives. "No one’s coming, Dawn!" Beth tells her. The hospital arc, as it’s referred to by fans, culminates with Rick and the group discovering her location and taking two cops hostage. Over the radio, Rick negotiates a trade: the cops for two of their own, Beth and Carol. What should have been an easy exchange quickly goes awry when Dawn demands Noah stay behind. "You have no claim on him," Rick fumes. "It’s okay…" a dejected Noah says, taking a gun out of his waistband and handing it to Rick.

"Wait…" Beth marches forward to give Noah a goodbye hug. "I knew you’d be back," Dawn slyly whispers. Feeling emboldened, Beth steps back and says, "I get it now," before pulling out a pair of scissors and stabbing Dawn in the shoulder. Dawn instinctively draws her pistol and shoots Beth in the head. It just might be the show’s most shocking death, as it comes out of nowhere and leaves you flabbergasted and screaming at the TV.


Rick and Carl

Carl should have made it to the end of the flagship series. Instead, he died a shocking death in Season 8. During the first half of the Savior war, he becomes the moral compass of the group and saves Siddiq (Avi Nash), a resident doctor who is nearly bitten by walkers. Rick reprimands his son, believing no one can ever be trusted again. Still, it’s Carl’s humanity that keeps Rick from going off the deep end (again).

When the Saviors attack Alexandria, bombing buildings and residences, Carl takes it upon himself to lead the community underground into a series of tunnels. Michonne and Rick are on the front lines, and Carl’s ability to lead shows great promise. That promise is cut tragically short, as it’s revealed that Carl was bitten the fateful day he saved Siddiq out in the woods. While dealing with a small group of walkers, he tumbles backward, and a walker’s teeth dig into his side. Unfortunately, the deep wound is in a place that can’t be amputated.

Rick and Michonne finally arrive to find Carl in a cold sweat and barely alive. It’s a devastating moment. Having grown up in the apocalypse, Carl represented the future and how civilization could rise again. Put simply, Carl’s absence leaves a big gaping hole in the show’s final bow.


Lori staring wall

Regardless of how you feel about Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), her death is like taking an anvil to the face. In Season 3, the group has turned an abandoned prison into a home. The outer lawn has been cleared of walkers, and there seems to be a glimmer of hope δΈ€ until a former inmate, presumed dead, unleashes walkers through one of the gates. The surge forces Lori, Maggie, and Carl inside the prison, where they are trapped inside a utility room. Lori goes into labor, and Maggie must perform an emergency C-section using Carl’s knife.

"Please, Maggie!" screams Lori, "My baby has to survive." Callies’ performance is powerful, each word she speaks carries weight, and Lauren Cohan feeds off her performance to offer up her own striking delivery as a young woman forced to do the unthinkable in a zombie apocalypse. Chandler Riggs also taps into the emotion required for the scene, and it becomes a tour de force for the trio. It should be noted that Callies’ monologue about doing what is right is among the show’s best moments. Callies shades her performance with depth and range. She ends with a simple line, "Goodnight, love…" Maggie makes a deep incision, and Lori slips away. It’s a moment that reminds you of the real heart pumping at the core of "The Walking Dead."

Lizzie and Mika

Lizzie gun bloody

This one’s a double whammy. In the show’s best episode,"The Grove," Carol, Tyreese (Chad Coleman), Judith, Mika (Kyla Kennedy), and Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) are wandering along the train tracks, heading for Terminus, a supposed sanctuary for all. In their path, they come across a secluded cabin in the woods.

Right when things begin to settle, an unexpected development arises. Lizzie doesn’t understand the dead. She believes them to be sick human beings she needs to feed. While Tyreese and Carol are collecting water, Lizzie kills her sister to show them her version of truth. "Maybe you’ll finally get it," she pleads, holding a gun at Carol. Carol concedes and promises Lizzie that she’ll let Mika turn. Lizzie heads inside with Tyreese and Judith, leaving Carol to break down in tears.

Later, she determines that Lizzie "can’t be around other people" and takes her out for a walk. "Are you mad at me?" sniffles Lizzie, who turns to look at the flowers as a coping strategy to deal with her emotions. Carol steps back for a moment and pulls out a pistol. She tells Lizzie to keep looking at the flowers, and she fires a single shot into the back of Lizzie’s head. It’s a tragic end to a tragic situation. Carol had no other options. If you think about it, there’s something poetic about both Lizzie’s and Mika’s deaths. The world as they knew it nurtured monsters.


Dale gun sun hat

In the second half of Season 2, Rick, Glenn, and Hershel save a boy named Randall (Michael Zegen). He’s part of another group, and because they don’t know if he’s good or bad, Shane suggests they hold him prisoner in a nearby shed. They weigh their options, acting as judge, jury, and executioner. Dale pleads with the group to listen to reason and give Randall a chance to prove himself, believing that if they kill him, they’re no better than the walkers.

Late one night, Dale goes for a stroll around the farm, and a walker leaps out of the darkness. Dale topples over, the walker climbing on top of him. Dale is disemboweled as his screams fill the night air. The group follows and finds a nearly dead Dale writhing in the grass. Rick is unable to put him out of his misery, so Daryl takes the revolver and says goodbye, "Sorry, brother."

Dale was a guiding light. He kept a firm hold on his humanity until his dying breath. He may have been wrong a lot of the time (like forcing Andrea out of the CDC at the end of Season 1), but he was, ultimately, a good man.


Andrea bloody

Andrea (Laurie Holden) was a very different character from her comic counterpart. She showed great promise in the first two seasons, as she exuded the confidence, know-how, and sharpshooting talent we’d come to love. However, in Season 3, she took a nosedive when she became romantically entangled with the Governor. When she fails to see Woodbury for what it is and decides to stay, she parts ways with Michonne. It’s a frustrating development, and it doesn’t stop there. Throughout the season, she continues to fall for the Governor’s boyish charm, and that leads to further lapses in judgment, even when the truth (e.g. the walker gladiator scene) stares her in the face.

Her death is so much wasted potential. Toward the end of the season, Michonne, Rick, and Daryl plot a rescue mission to Woodbury, but they’re too late. Andrea has been bitten on the neck by a zombified Milton (Dallas Roberts), the Governor’s right-hand man. There’s no possible way to amputate. "No one can do it alone now," says a resigned Andrea. The group gathers around her, and she makes a joke that brings her character full circle: "I know how the safety works." In Season 1, Andrea failed to flick off the safety when killing walkers. It’s a nice little nod to bookend a disappointing arc. Andrea deserved better.


Henry looking serious

In the aftermath of Carl’s death, Henry (first played by Macsen Lintz and later his older brother Matt) was positioned as his replacement and Carol’s new kid. In Season 9, Henry takes several leadership roles and begins an apprenticeship with Hilltop’s blacksmith, Earl (John Finn). He also engages in the usual coming-of-age teen antics like drinking a little too much and getting "arrested." Unlike Sophia, Lizzie, Mika, and Sam (Major Dodson), Henry is strong, resilient, and able to face the apocalypse with gusto.

The new big bad, Alpha (Samantha Morton), and her Whisperers are a threat the group has never before faced. In "The Calm Before," Carol and company underestimate what these villains are capable of. Alpha infiltrates the inaugural community-wide fair and later, snatches up various residents — whom she beheads. She then puts their heads on pikes. The pikes line the border between her land and theirs, and it’s a gruesome sight. Among the victims is Henry, and it’s a tremendous blow to the group’s morale. Carol reaches her breaking point. As Daryl cradles her in his arms, she crumbles to the ground. Just when she thought Henry was safe, he was ripped from her grasp.


Glenn on hands and knees

Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) lives in infamy. He may have redeemed himself in later seasons, but his barbaric ways will not be forgotten. His introduction, coming at the end of Season 6, leaves bloody scars on the group. After bludgeoning Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) with a barbwire-wrapped baseball bat named Lucille, Daryl delivers a one-two sucker punch to Negan’s jaw. It’s a reactionary move that provokes Negan to end another life — Glenn’s.

Glenn was there from the beginning, saving Rick when he was trapped inside an army tank in Atlanta. The two instantly bonded and relied on one another. They’d been through it all. From the CDC explosion to Garrett (Andrew J. West) and his cannibals, there was nothing they couldn’t conquer — until Negan. Early in Season 6, there was a fake-out death involving Glenn. Although it seemed that Glenn was eaten alive, he slithered under a dumpster and lived to see another day. He was a cat with nine lives, but unfortunately, his luck was about to run out.

Glenn’s death is not only an emotional gut punch, but it’s also gory and bloody. "Maggie, I’ll find you," he softly mutters, his eye bulging from his skull and his scalp split. Maggie looks on in shock. From the beginning, Glenn was the heart of the group, and to see him go out this way was beyond upsetting.


Jesus arms outstretched

Much like Andrea, Jesus (Tom Payne) was a wasted character. He was first introduced when Daryl and Rick were out scavenging for supplies and orange soda. His martial arts moves were legendary, and it seemed nothing could defeat him. He was like a character from "Mortal Kombat." A resident of Hilltop, Jesus took the backseat for most of his run in the show. Despite a strong start, he rarely demonstrated his strengths as a fighter again. And if that wasn’t disappointing enough, his death came out of nowhere.

In the Season 9 mid-season finale, the group tracks Eugene (Josh McDermitt) to a secluded barn. He relates a tale about how the walkers were now whispering to each other. Incredulous, Daryl and the others brush off Eugene’s claims and make their way back to Alexandria. However, during their journey, they become trapped in a foggy cemetery where a horde is gathering. Aaron (with his morning star arm) and Jesus whip out their combat skills. When the group is finally able to open the wrought-iron gate, Jesus takes a stab at taking down one last walker, but it turns out to be a Whisperer. "You are where you do not belong," the whisperer says, stabbing him in the back. Jesus falls to the ground with a thud. He’s pretty much dead already when Aaron rushes to his side. It’s a death that should never have happened, but here we are.