The Walking Dead’s “No One Is Safe” mantra has been beaten into our heads for four seasons now, so we’re always ready to predict, then mourn, more major deaths. Should we stop worrying — or amp the fear up to 11 for Season 5?
No one wants the show to become too predictably formulaic, so that’s why Season 4’s finale didn’t include any big deaths. The major deaths of the season were back in Episode 8 with Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) — a beloved guy but a longshot to survive too long at his age, with one leg — and The Governor (David Morrissey) — the “big bad” a lot of us expected to see gone back in Season 3.
Season 4 newbies Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika (Kyla Kenedy) were killed in horrific fashion in Episode 14, but they don’t even qualify as main character deaths. (Sorry, kids!)
It’s a pretty bold move for a show that prides itself on killing people off (Dead is right in the title!) to go a full half season without killing any of the core cast, especially when the ensemble just keeps growing — adding more people who were never in the comics and keeping alive some people who were already dead by now on the page. It’s also pretty ironic when The Good Wife makes headlines for a shocking death and TWD makes headlines for a lack of shocking deaths.
But that won’t last.
As comic book writer/TV executive producer Robert Kirkman told TheWalkingDead.com in a post-finale interview, “It’s important to demonstrate that the show can stand on its own [without a steady stream of major deaths]. It also probably means there are going to be a lot of deaths in Season 5, so look out, but I think it was an important stance to take for now."
So now we’re back where we started. No One Is Safe. Anyone could die at any time. That includes Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Beth Greene (Emily Kinney), Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), etc. Will they do it? How many times can the show cry wolf with scare tactics?
We even thought Rick might die in the comic books, which are still being written, but he survived still another close call. We’re not complaining about Rick still being alive — we definitely don’t want to see the main character die — but we’re starting to get numb to all the threats.
Maybe they’ll truly shock us with an unexpected character death (or more than one) in Season 5, but after bracing for the demise of everyone from Beth and Judith to Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun), Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan), and even Daryl, we’re starting to wonder if they should change the mantra to No Redshirts Are Safe But Your Favorite Character Is Probably Going To Be Just Fine.
Are you worried for more Season 5 deaths? Do you hope there are more, to keep the series exciting and show the high stakes of this dangerous world, or are you happy to keep this group of survivors together on screen?
The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres in October 2014 on AMC.