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Main Walking Dead Characters Who Didn't Last Long In The Series

"The Walking Dead" is a TV behemoth, spanning more than a decade on the air. In that time, it has seen countless characters come and go. In fact, hardly an episode goes by without someone being killed off by a zombie, rival survivor, or freak accident. Death is ever-present in the zombie apocalypse, and not a single soul is safe from meeting a sudden, brutal end.

This willingness to say goodbye to just about anyone is what really sets "The Walking Dead" apart from other shows. Every character is a candidate for death in this bloodthirsty series — though some survivors last much longer than others. Series mainstays aren't safe, nor are characters who make a big emotional splash. Some of the show's most influential characters die after appearing in only a couple of episodes, in fact. Today, we're taking a look at the main characters of "The Walking Dead" who didn't last all that long, despite making a big impact on the survivors around them and the story as a whole. They might be gone, but they're definitely not forgotten.


The quiet ones always seem to be the first to go, and in "The Walking Dead," their deaths usually serve as inspiration for the rest of the gang to keep going. Such is the case with poor Jim, who was not long for this world.

Jim first appears in Season 1's "Guts" as part of the group Shane helps escape from Atlanta. He doesn't attract much attention or smash his way through endless zombie heads, but his gentle demeanor endears him to the rest of the group. Jim has a particularly difficult time adjusting to life in the zombie apocalypse: He has a breakdown in Season 1's "Vatos" and compulsively digs graves for an entire day. Unfortunately, those graves are filled the next morning by a zombie attack. Worse still, the undead leave Jim with a bite.

Jim is the group's first look at what happens to someone who gets bitten. His transformation from man to zombie is long and painful — and that's without even seeing the end of it. While on the road to the CDC, Jim asks to be left beneath a tree so he can spend his final moments sitting in nature. Viewers last see Jim in Season 1's "Wildfire," looking up at the sky with a content expression on his face.

Dr. Edwin Jenner

Despite only playing a role in "TS-19," the Season 1 finale, Dr. Edwin Jenner has a huge impact on "The Walking Dead." He's the last remaining scientist inside the CDC, which has been locked up like a fortress since the beginning of the zombie virus outbreak. Dr. Jenner has continued to study the virus, but when his last zombie sample is destroyed, he sees no reason to go on. At that moment, Rick and the other survivors show up outside the building, and Dr. Jenner decides to open the doors.

Without Dr. Jenner's intervention, the survivors' story would have ended in six episodes. He gives them food and medicine from the CDC's storerooms and supplies them with some much-needed rest. When the underground CDC bunker is set to self-destruct, Dr. Jenner saves the group again by allowing them to leave, though Jacqui chooses to stay behind. Dr. Jenner also reveals a pivotal secret just before the group departs: Everyone is infected with the zombie virus, meaning that no matter how someone dies, they will turn. When Rick tells Dr. Jenner he's grateful for the chance to try their fate out in the world, Dr. Jenner ominously replies, "The day will come when you won't be." That phrase returns as the title to Episode 1 of Season 7.

Sophia Peletier

Sophia's death is one of the show's biggest early departures from the source material. In the original comic series, Sophia survives to the very end of the story, though she loses her mother Carol along the way. Sophia eventually marries Carl Grimes, and the two of them have a daughter. The television show introduces Sophia at the same point the comic does, but she disappears in Season 2's "What Lies Ahead." While the group is dealing with a broken-down RV on the side of the highway, walkers chase Sophia into the woods. The survivors stay at Hershel's farm while they search, but after days of looking, there's still no sign of her.

Ultimately, Sophia's death is revealed six episodes later in Season 2's "Pretty Much Dead Already," when she walks out of Hershel's barn as a walker. It's one of the biggest shocks of the series' early episodes, and still one of series' most memorable deaths.

Dale Horvath

Dale serves as the moral center of Rick's group of survivors, encouraging them to hold onto their humanity within the apocalyptic landscape. He firmly opposes killing other human beings, no matter the circumstances: When the survivors take a dangerous prisoner, Dale is the only member of the group who votes against killing him. Moreover, Dale convinces Andrea to give life and survival another chance and acts as a mentor to Glenn, offering advice on both car repair and romance.

An unfortunate coincidence ends up causing Dale's death. In Season 2's "Judge, Jury, Executioner," Dale is horrifically disemboweled by a zombie Carl failed to kill earlier in the day. By the time Dale's friends find him, it's too late. Hershel has to be the one to tell Rick that no medical invention can save him. Daryl takes it upon himself to end Dale's life before he turns. Dale's death leaves the group shaken, but it also spurs them into making a new commitment to retain the best parts of themselves.

Shane Walsh

Shane is Rick's partner on the police force before the zombie apocalypse hits. He helps Lori and Carl get out of Atlanta alive while Rick is comatose in a hospital bed. He also engages in an affair with Lori, which plants a seed of division in the main group of survivors.

Shane shares a leadership position with Rick during his time on the show. The two frequently butt heads over what to do, with Shane constantly pushing Rick to be more brutal for the sake of the group. Shane has his flaws, but in many ways, he simply skips ahead to the mindset the other survivors ultimately adopt after the fall of the prison in Season 4.

Though Shane cares about the group nearly as much as Rick does, their clashing leadership styles simply can't coexist. In Season 2's "Better Angels," Shane tries to kill Rick, forcing his former best friend to shoot him. It's a big moment for Rick's character arc and a dramatic reveal for the show, as Shane rises as a zombie despite not being bitten. Carl deals zombified Shane the killing blow.


Theodore "T-Dog" Douglas is introduced in Season 1's "Guts." One of the first characters to be entirely created for the show, "The Walking Dead" never quite figures out what to do with him. A fight between T-Dog and Merle inadvertently ends up trapping the latter on a roof in downtown Atlanta. Merle likely would have died there, had T-Dog not chained the roof door closed to prevent zombies from spilling out of it.

After his introduction, T-Dog fades into the background for quite a while, though he's always ready with a quip. In Season 3's "Killer Within," T-Dog gets bitten on the shoulder by a zombie while the survivors attempt to clear out the prison. He spends a portion of the episode delusionally rambling before finding a heartbreaking opportunity to sacrifice himself for Carol. T-Dog's time on the series isn't long, but he'll always be remembered for his humor and heroism.

Lori Grimes

Lori is first introduced in the series' pilot, "Days Gone Bye," after she's left Atlanta with Carl and Shane. All three of them believe Rick is long dead, and Lori is trying to move on by pursuing a relationship with Shane. Rick's return throws a wrench into this plan, but Lori tries her best to end things with Shane to stay true to her husband.

In Season 2, Lori reveals that she's pregnant — but she doesn't know whether Rick or Shane is the baby's father. Rick decides he'll raise the child as his own, and Shane's death at the end of the season puts the matter to rest. Pregnancy during a zombie apocalypse is a dangerous prospect, but Lori manages to carry her baby to term while still being a zombie killing machine.

Ultimately, delivering the baby ends Lori's life in Season 3's "Killer Within." When a horde of walkers is unleashed in the prison, Lori, Maggie, and Carl wind up trapped inside a boiler room. The stress of the situation sends Lori into labor, and Maggie quickly realizes that she'll need an emergency C-section if the baby is to survive. Lori tells Carl that someday he'll "beat this world" before giving her life for her daughter. After the delivery, Carl insists on being the one to shoot his mother before she turns.

Merle Dixon

Merle Dixon is a racist, a bully, and a murderer who's introduced on a roof in downtown Atlanta in Season 1's "Guts." After Merle and T-Dog get into a fight, Rick handcuffs Merle to a pipe. The group eventually has to leave him there. Luckily for Merle, he's as crafty as he is bloodthirsty. Merle escapes and isn't seen again until Season 3, when he's found to be living in Woodbury and working for the Governor. 

Merle turns on the Governor when he learns that his brother is alive and living with Rick and the other survivors at the prison. Once they're reunited, Merle tries to convince his brother that they should run away, leaving the conflict with the Governor behind them. But by this point, Daryl is a loyal member of Rick's group. Looking to disprove Daryl's newfound worldview, Merle launches a solo assassination attempt on the Governor in Season 3's "This Sorrowful Life." He manages to take down a handful of the Governor's men, but a stray walker throws off his game plan, allowing the Governor to overtake him. Merle refuses to beg for his life before the Governor shoots him down. Later, Daryl finds his zombified brother and brings things to a close.


Some people stay the same in the midst of the apocalypse, while others change dramatically. Andrea is part of the latter group. Before the outbreak, Andrea is a civil rights attorney trying to reconnect with Amy, her younger sister. The world turns upside down as the women return from a road trip.

Andrea is introduced as part of the rooftop group in Season 1's "Guts". She and Amy grow close to Dale, but when a zombie attack leaves Amy with a bite, Andrea pulls back from the people around her. When the group escapes the CDC, Andrea wants to stay behind and call it quits, only relenting when Dale convinces her to go on living.

Throughout Season 2, Andrea becomes a great shot and a hardened survivor. After Hershel's farm falls, Andrea and Michonne spend the winter together before stumbling upon Woodbury. The Governor falls for Andrea right away, and she reciprocates his feelings ... until she realizes what an unhinged madman he really is. She tries to sneak away from Woodbury, but the Governor tracks her down and brings her to his secret torture room. There, he kills Milton, who helped Andrea escape, and leaves the corpse to turn and eat Andrea. The survivors come to her rescue in the Season 3 finale "Welcome to the Tombs," but not before she's been bitten. Andrea borrows Rick's gun to end things on her own terms.

Hershel Greene

Season 2 gives "The Walking Dead" some of its best characters, including Beth, Maggie, and their father, Hershel. They're introduced in "Bloodletting" as Hershel tries to save Carl's life from a gunshot wound.

Initially, Hershel is convinced that zombies are still people who can be cured of their condition. His opinion changes in Season 2's "Pretty Much Dead Already" after Shane sets the zombies in his barn loose. From then on, Hershel not only serves as the group's doctor, but also as their moral touchstone. After the violent conflict with the Governor and Woodbury, Hershel convinces Rick to step back and focus on matters close to home, for Carl's sake.

When a virus sweeps through the population of the prison, Hershel takes it upon himself to stay inside the quarantine zone and help the ill. He likely thinks he'll be sacrificing his life in the process, but Hershel survives. Just when all seems well, however, the Governor returns, takes Hershel hostage, and leads an assault on the survivors. In Season 4's "Too Far Gone," during a standoff at the prison gates, the Governor decapitates Hershel with a sword, and the man's story is brought to an end.

The Governor

The Governor is the first real villain on "The Walking Dead." He makes his debut in Season 3's "Walk With Me," initially seeming to be a kind man and a good leader. But soon enough, the madness bubbling underneath his respectable surface is revealed.

Even at his most evil, the Governor always holds onto a touch of his humanity. After the fall of Woodbury, he goes on a journey of self-discovery and redemption, finding a new family with Tara, Lilly, and Meghan Chambler. For a moment, it seems like the Governor is on the path to a peaceful life. When he's thrust back into a leadership role, however, he immediately returns to violence. 

The Governor decides to lead an assault on the prison, in the hopes of securing a permanent home. The attack does force Rick and his group out of the fortress, but this doesn't provide the Governor with the home he wants. In Season 4's "Too Far Gone," Michonne stabs the Governor through the chest with her sword while he fights Rick. Fans might miss the villain, but the show's heroes certainly don't.

Tyreese Williams

Tyreese is one of the most big-hearted characters on "The Walking Dead." He struggles to kill, even when not doing so directly endangers himself and others. Tyreese wants to hold onto his humanity as much as possible, and he's convinced that others in the group can do the same. He even brings himself to forgive Carol for killing Karen and David during the viral outbreak at the prison, which allows both of them to heal and move on. Tyreese is also the reason that Judith Grimes is alive: He rescues the baby and becomes her caretaker until they're reunited with Rick and the rest of the gang.

Tyreese gets bitten in Season 5's "What Happened and What's Going On." His friends try to amputate his arm, but by the time they reach him, Tyreese has already lost too much blood and is slipping into unconsciousness. As he hallucinates a vision of the Governor, Tyreese makes a final proclamation about living with empathy in the post-apocalypse. "People like me," he says, "people like me, they can live."


When Beth is brought to Grady Memorial Hospital, she meets Noah, who's been stuck there for a long while. Noah makes an attempt to escape with Beth, but the two are brought back in by Dawn's officers. When Rick's group comes to rescue Beth, she sacrifices herself in order to guarantee Noah's freedom. From there, the entire group heads north to Virginia where Noah's family lives inside a walled community.

Sadly, by the time Noah makes it back home, one of the walls has crumbled, and the zombies have invaded. With his family gone, Noah decides to stick with Rick's group. Once they make it to Alexandria, he works on the supply run team with Glenn, Tara, Eugene, Aiden, and Nicholas. But in Season 5's "Spend," one of their first outings goes horrifically wrong. Noah, Glenn, and Nicholas get trapped on opposite sides of a revolving door with freedom in front of them and a horde of zombies directly behind. Glenn tries to break the glass to free them all, but Nicholas shoves his way out, dooming Noah to being eaten alive. Beth's sacrifice is rendered meaningless as the zombies tear Noah apart in one of the show's most gruesome death scenes.

Deanna Monroe

Few characters on "The Walking Dead" can lead a group of survivors and remain dedicated to living a peaceful existence. Deanna Monroe, the principal organizer of Alexandria, is one of those people. In Season 5's "Remember," Deanna introduces herself and her community to Rick's group. She explains how, with the help of her husband, the people of Alexandria built walls around their home and have been riding out the apocalypse ever since.

Deanna has ambitious plans for Alexandria: She views the community as the single best opportunity society has to rebuild itself. She also sees how Rick and his friends, with all their experience of the outside world, could be an integral part of Alexandria's growth. Deanna makes the case for Rick's group to the rest of Alexandria because she understands that their community needs to be focused on survival above all else.

A walker bites Deanna shortly after a herd breaks through Alexandria's walls in Season 6's "Start to Finish." In her final hours, Deanna inspires Michonne with her vision of multiple communities uniting in the future. Many characters spend years trying to make that dream a reality, ensuring Deanna's memory lives on.

Denise Cloyd

Denise becomes Alexandria's primary doctor after Pete Anderson is put to death for killing Deanna's husband. In "The Walking Dead" comics, Denise plays a big role in the "All Out War" arc, and survives until the end of the survivors' battle against the Saviors. When the show introduced a romantic arc for Denise with Tara Chambler in Season 6, however, fans had a sense that she was not long for this world. Nothing good can stick around on "The Walking Dead," after all.

Indeed, Denise's death arrives in Season 6's "Twice as Far." Denise insists on accompanying Daryl and Rosita on a supply run. On the way back to Alexandria, she risks a walker bite to pull a cooler from an abandoned car. After killing the walker, Denise claims an orange soda from the cooler and gives an impassioned speech about overcoming fear to Daryl and Rosita. In the middle of this monologue, however, an arrow shoots through the back of her head, protruding through her eye. When Dwight reveals himself as her killer, the groundwork is laid for a major rivalry between him and Daryl in the war with the Saviors.