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The Walking Dead Creator Compares Character Deaths To Ripening Fruit

"The Walking Dead" isn't exactly known for being precious with its characters. Nothing and nobody is beyond a gruesome death in a world where the dead can come back to life with a ravenous appetite for flesh. Not even the people you love most dearly. Not even a character you've grown to root for and even admire over the course of several seasons. Most deaths in "The Walking Dead" are shocking, but they're also frequently tragic and often downright sad. In the world of the show, everybody is low-key wearing a red shirt. 

This idea has been confirmed by Robert Kirkman himself, who created the graphic novel series and, subsequently, the show that became a global television phenomenon. During a Reddit AMA in 2014, he was asked by fan u/UncertainAnswer whether there was any correlation between a character's popularity and their survival rate. "Have you ever killed a character just because they were popular and you wanted to shake things up?"

Kirkman's response was blunt. Not only is no character safe, but their popularity may, in a roundabout way, be a determining factor in their death. "In my opinion, I feel like characters ripen like fruit," he wrote. "So while I wouldn't say the more popular a character is the more likely they are to die, they do have to reach a certain level of popularity before they've 'earned' the death."

Popular and dead

Over the course of "The Walking Dead," we watched plenty of characters we'd grown to love meet vicious ends. We watched as Dale Horvath (Jeffrey DeMunn), the voice of integrity for the survivor group, was ripped apart. We saw Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), a loving and loyal father, literally decapitated by the Governor (David Morrissey). We watched the pragmatic but loyal Sasha Williams (Sonequa Martin-Green) fall during the long and bloody war with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors. And of course, we watched Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) dodge death numerous times before finally being beaten to death by Negan.

All of these characters had undeniable popularity with viewers. None escaped the deadly brutality of the post-apocalypse. This doesn't necessarily bode well for the very popular characters in the upcoming "Walking Dead" spin-offs that are currently in the hopper. "The Walking Dead: Dead City" revolves entirely around Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) and a Negan perpetually seeking redemption. Then there's the Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) spin-off, featuring two of the most popular and enduring characters on the show. Clearly, none are safe, even on their own spin-offs.

And as for "The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon"? Well, Robert Kirkman addressed Daryl (Norman Reedus) too in his old Reddit AMA, so we'll give him the final word on that: "No character is too popular to die. (Suck it, Reedus!)"