“The Walking Dead” has become known for killing off fan favorites ruthlessly, keeping its audience on edge at all times. Your favorite character could die any episode. After all, only a select few can get away with escaping via a trash bin. And even the lucky ones still aren’t free from wrath of Lucille.
[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for “The Walking Dead.”]
“The Walking Dead” lives in a precarious world of interpersonal drama and flesh-eating zombies. So you never know whether a relationship’s about to kick off between two post-apocalyptic survivors or abruptly end by being eaten alive.
TVShow Time, a TV Tracking App specialized in TV with large fandoms surrounding it, dug deep into their 1.6 million “Walking Dead” fans to analyze all the reactions to the deaths in the series. Millions of votes were cast by fans on what deaths, characters, and surprising moments ranked the highest for them.
Many of the show’s most expected deaths made it into the top six, including Glenn, a fan-favorite separated from his wife and unborn child who met his end this season (ranking at No. 3).
Mentor to the group and moral compass Hershel Greene pushed through to No. 2. The real surprise, though, came from survey’s No. 1 pick: Jessie Anderson, a brief romantic interest of lead character Rick Grimes, who came to a gruesome end after watching her son get eaten alive in Season 6.
How did Jessie Anderson snag the coveted spot of most shocking death on “The Walking Dead”?It’s important to note that TVShow Time tracks 1.6 million “The Walking Dead” fans. That’s a huge number, but still only a fraction of the overall viewers.
Take the Season 7 premiere, ‘The Day Will Come When You Will Be,” an episode that features the deaths of two people that made the list: Glenn and Abraham. That episode was met with a whopping 17 million viewers. By contrast, the episode that’s filling in the No. 1 spot, “No Way Out,” had a smaller viewership of 13.7 million. While TVShow Time is giving us a fascinating glimpse into the psyche of their 1.6 million viewers, these viewers don’t fully encompass the scope that “The Walking Dead” and its fan reactions has.
One of the most memorable characters that was only with us for the first two seasons, Shane, died in an episode that had under 7 million viewers. Assuming the data analysis focused on the present reaction to deaths from the whole series, Shane’s death episode “Better Angels,” would not get its due since it aired way back in 2012. Unfortunately, there’s no way to capture the initial fan reactions to Shane’s death and compare it to the latest deaths of 2016 in “The Day Will Come When You Will Be.” With all the variables of initial viewership, time since an episode has aired, and what kinds of people make up the TVShow Time demographic, it’s near impossible to completely assess how fans responded to deaths and how their feelings may have changed as time has passed.
Still, TVShow Time’s infographic puts stock into characters that may have been overlooked. Everyone has their favorites whose deaths hit them the hardest. One person’s Glenn is another person’s Jessie. As we prepare for “The Walking Dead” to return Sunday, February 12, the takeaway remains the same: “The Walking Dead” breeds the unexpected in its deaths, but also in its viewers.