I was talking to a colleague about “The Walking Dead” and I said that Daryl Dixon is probably the most popular character on the show. That made me wonder: who do you think is the most indispensable character on the show, the one person the producers are least likely to kill off?
Sure, they could follow the graphic novels on that front but that is clearly not a necessity. Shane lived a lot longer on the TV show than the novels. Daryl doesn’t even exist in comic books.
This is a huge ensemble cast. The show has already nixed a host of characters. Last season, they lost Sophia, Dale and key figure Shane. This season, T-Dog and Rick’s wife Lori have bit the dust. More are likely to come.
But “The Walking Dead” hinges as much – if not more – on its cast as it does on the zombies. Kill off too many popular characters and the audience might rebel and stop watching. So far, the deaths have worked for the story lines to date and have not hurt the show’s buzzworthiness. (The sixth episode Sunday night drew a season low but still formidable 9.21 million viewers, with a 4.9 rating among 18 to 49 year olds.) The producers introduced two deeply intriguing new characters this season in the Governor and Michonne, while bringing back our favorite psycho redneck Merle, now replete with a convenient stabbing device for an arm.
People are now wondering what will happen when Daryl reunites with his bro Merle. How will that go? There is a presumption that if one has to die, it would be Merle. Norman Reedus portrays Daryl as a combination of steel, warmth and power. His death would certainly cause a major rebellion among “Walking Dead” aficionados.
But is Rick really all that indispensable? Sure, he’s been the stoic, determined leader for his crew of survivors. But post-Lori, is he capable of making the right decisions for the group? Could Daryl take over and do as good a job? Would he want the responsibility?
I can’t see the producers killing the Governor or Michonne off any time soon. They’re both too integral to current story lines – at least through the finale of this season.
Glenn and Maggie as a couple are popular, too. Turning one of them over to the walker side might engender serious backlash.
But the rest of the crew, I fathom, could go away and not necessarily hurt the show.
Hershel is missing part of a leg. He can’t run. He has limited mobility. He probably isn’t long for this world. His daughter Beth has very few lines. Will anyone care if she dies? The two prisoners – Oscar and Axel – are clearly dispensable. I don’t get a sense the writers are overly committed to their survival.
And that baby. Given how dangerous the world is now, does the infant stand a chance?
Andrea, given how easily she’s fallen for the Governor instead of sticking with Michonne, is now probably viewers’ least favorite character right now. She could certainly go away and few tears would be shed.
Milton, the scientist-type, seems too important to the Woodbury crew to die in the near future. He seems like a good-hearted character at the moment.
Carol may be alive now but for how long? She has always been a secondary character so she could be used as a pawn down the road.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and theories.
A reminder: there are only eight episodes airing through Dec.2 before the show goes on a break until February, 2013 for the final eight of season three.