Some of The Walking Dead’s most memorable deaths have been inspired by the comic book and there is still time for the show to replicate Father Gabriel’s grim fate. Gabriel first appeared in Season 5 and has grown from a cowardly burden in Rick’s group to a strong protector of the Alexandrians. With the exception of Carol, Gabriel is The Walking Dead’s most improved character. But Robert Kirkman’s comic book version of Gabriel doesn’t develop into a battle-hardened fighter and instead suffers a humiliating death during The Whisperer War storyline.
Issue 158 of the comic opens with Gabriel desperately attempting to flee from his lookout position at the water tower after he spots a huge herd of walkers coming towards Alexandria. In his rush to get down, he falls, only to get his foot stuck in a lower rung of the ladder which snaps his leg in half and leaves him suspended upside down. As the herd approach, the Whisperer’s second-in-command, Beta, steps out of the pack and guts Gabriel, which attracts a group of zombies who devour his flesh and leave his skeleton dangling from the ladder.
In the TV show, the Whisperer War is over and Beta has died, but Father Gabriel’s comic book death must still happen because it is too gruesome to leave out. Many of The Walking Dead‘s iconic deaths have been taken directly from the source material, most memorably Glenn’s brutal demise at the hands of Negan and Lucille. Gabriel’s grim end would give the show’s final season an all-time classic visual that could be as gory as Noah’s savage death when he was ripped apart whilst trapped in a revolving door.
Part of the problem of bringing Gabriel’s death to life in the show is that there is not a war going on and Beta has been killed off, so how could it happen? At the end of season 11’s “No Other Way,” the main group is split between two locations. Maggie is leading the Hilltop, whilst Daryl is now a Commonwealth soldier, presumably with other Alexandrians making the move there as well. If a war breaks out between the camps, then it’s reasonable to think that Gabriel could be on acting as a lookout at a tower, as he is in the comics’ Whisperer War. As for Beta’s absence, he arguably does not need a replacement. Having a herd of zombies devour Gabriel whilst he is still alive would be an impactful way of the show demonstrating how dangerous the walkers still are.
A bigger issue is that the current on-screen version of Father Gabriel would not run away from a fight in the same way his comic counterpart did. So why not give the death to someone else? The Walking Dead has a track record of giving comic book deaths to different characters. In the show, Denise receives Abraham’s arrow to the eye, and Hershel gets decapitated by the Governor instead of Tyreese.
Out of the contenders to take the death, a supporting character like Luke could be the unlucky victim. He has barely been seen since season 10 and running away would not be a jarring change of character, as it would be for Gabriel. Alternatively, Jerry could be the perfect candidate. Jerry is almost always on lookout duty, and, more importantly, he is a fan favorite who deserves a memorable death. If they did give him Gabriel’s ending, it would be wise to change the nature of the death to something nobler to keep in line with Jerry’s selfless personality. Whoever is on the receiving end, there is no doubt that Gabriel’s comic book death would be one of The Walking Dead‘s most unforgettable moments.