The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: Most Unexpected Character Deaths, Ranked

Many characters have come and gone in The Walking Dead, but these particular deaths truly surprised the audience.

With the second part of season 11 ending recently, fans are eagerly waiting for the final installment of The Walking Dead coming this fall.

Throughout over a decade on air, there have been many notable character deaths. Some of these deaths were long in the making and not as much of a surprise for fans. However, some endings were quite unexpected at the moment, adding to the shock of their on-screen demise. Although The Walking Dead became notorious for killing characters, these particular losses were truly out of left field.

10. Nicholas

One of the most jaw-dropping betrayals in Walking Dead history is when Nicholas (Michael Traynor) shoots himself in the head when he and Glenn are surrounded by walkers, nearly killing Glenn as a result.

Nicholas had been a villainous character from the start, known for his rash behavior as a result of cowardice. However, he had started to improve after being taken down a couple of notches by Glenn. At this moment, it was a real shock to see Nicholas devolve and suddenly take his life when he was willing to do so much to save himself before.

9. Henry

Henry (Macsen Lintz) was becoming a more intriguing character before his death, surviving being held captive by The Whisperers once already.

Just when the audience is getting a lot out of a character’s growth, the show has a tendency to kill them off. However, that doesn’t stop the surprise when a character is so suddenly killed just as they begin to come into their own. When Henry ends up on one of the spikes by The Whisperers, it definitely had the impact it was meant to.

8. Tara

Tara (Alanna Masterson) was a prominent character for six seasons, becoming a respected member of the group of survivors over many years.

Tara hadn’t been as central in the story as other characters around the time of her death, but she did seem to be the standing leader after Maggie’s departure and Jesus’s death. It’s always a shocking event when a long-standing character is so easily cut from the show. When Tara’s head is revealed on a pike, it was a big moment for the series.

7. Glenn

Glenn’s death was unforgettably heartbreaking, with many long-time fans of the show devastated by his loss.

When Negan has several major members of the group under his thumb and he’s ready to teach them a lesson, the audience was prepared to lose a major player in the show. However, after Abraham’s death, fans were left with a false sense of relief, knowing there has already been a casualty. When Negan suddenly turned his bat on Glenn, it was a horrific and abrupt loss of a beloved character.

6. Noah

One of the reasons fans found Nicholas quite villainous is because he caused Noah’s death. Noah’s character was charming and appealing, and the audience appreciated his beginning when he helped Beth Greene while she was being held captive by the same group he was.

Though Noah and Nicholas were trying trapped in a rotating door surrounded by walkers, the group was going to try to find a way to get them out strategically. Instead, Nicholas sacrificed Noah for himself, leading to one of the most horrific, violent deaths in TWD history.

5. Joe

The audience was waiting for Joe and his group of degenerates to finally have the tables turned. However, the way Joe meets his end was gruesome and utterly shocking.

The group was in a tight spot, with Rick, Daryl, Michonne, and Carl clearly in a position of vulnerability. It was one of those situations on the show when the audience is on the edge of their seats, waiting to see how the survivors are possibly going to get out of this one. Out of all the savagery in the series, it was completely unexpected to see Rick turn on Joe and rip his throat out with only his teeth.

4. Sasha

Sasha was one of the many TWD characters that deserved to live, adding a lot of intensity and intrigue to the show. As she wasn’t the first character to be captured by Negan, there were fans wondering if she would get as lucky as the others.

Sasha had been so skeptical of communities and nervous to rely on people in the past that it was a shock to see her take her own life for her group. Throughout the episode leading up to her death, fans could anticipate her imminent end, but it was still a surprise for her to make that enormous sacrifice in the hopes that her loved ones could at least have a chance against the Saviors.

3. Hershel

Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) was a central character from season 2, influencing the group and helping them become more self-sufficient without so heavily relying on scavenging. Even beyond that, he was one of the moral cornerstones of the group.

Hershel’s death was one of the most noble in TWD, and his influence on everyone didn’t die when he did. Though the audience didn’t expect the Governor to give up so easily, it was still unexpected to see him swing Michonne’s sword and take Hershel’s life.

2. Denise

Though Denise (Merritt Wever) may not have been the most cherished character in this series, she certainly had one of the most unexpected deaths.

Denise was starting to open up to the group and audience, telling them about her backstory and her urge want to take chances and learn how to survive in the new world. However, Denise’s passionate rant was cut short when Dwight shot a crossbow arrow through her eye. Fans may not have known how long she was going to live, but her sudden death was shockingly unexpected.


Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) had an interesting storyline after the prison attack and the group was separated. Her character became more interesting and was given more depth past her naivety and negativity as a teenager.

She was held captive and tried to find a way to escape them. When the group finally tracks her down and tries to bargain to get her back, the audience was expecting to get more of her story. However, she was unexpectedly shot in the head after stabbing her captor in the shoulder with scissors, bringing an abrupt end to her character that no one saw coming.

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