People, as a whole, love to be shocked. Why do you think haunted houses and horror flicks are always trying to up the ante? It's because everyone wants new thrills and surprises. It's as if the majority of people are caught up in a never-ending quest to have their breath taken away in some new and exciting manner. This part of our culture is exactly the reason that AMC's The Walking Dead has become such a phenomenon.
Don't get me wrong here, The Walking Dead has plenty of incredible things going for it. Whether it be the phenomenal acting or the unique perspective Robert Kirkman has created for his characters, the series has earned its status as a bonafide hit. While it's got the qualities of an outstanding drama, it's the shock factor that continues to bring new fans into the mix. Never before has a cable series found so many unique ways to throw their audience for a loop. Around each turn, a new surprise waits, and fans are often left unsure of what to do with themselves. The majority of the time, these moments are focused on the deaths of meaningful characters.
Over the course of six seasons, we've learned that no one is safe in the world of The Walking Dead. Death comes more often than in any other series, and we've grown to expect it. What takes TWD to the next level, however, is its ability to still catch us off guard. There are always a few deaths that will shock us to our core, no matter how numb we think we've become. Whether they came as a surprise, or they just left us in a pool of our own tears, here are the five most shocking deaths (in no particular order) in the history of The Walking Dead.
5. Denise Cloyd
Denise's death may have been one of the most recent on the show, but it also came as one of the most surprising. While in the middle of a brilliant monologue about living life to the fullest and facing your fears, Denise's face is pierced with an arrow from Daryl's crossbow. Although it wasn't Daryl who fired the shot, it hurt him a little extra to know that his weapon took the life of his friend. What's even worse for Daryl; the arrow was meant for him.
Not only was this death completely out of left field, but it came right as Denise was becoming a meaningful character. After spending countless episodes stepping in as the doctor in Alexandria, Denise finally started showing her true colors as a total bad-ass. She discovered a relationship with Tara, had a run-in with the Wolves, and was the one of the only characters to finally put Daryl in his place. Right before she died, she laid into him and Rosita about the pathetic ways in which they each live their lives. Denise's time as a fan-favorite may have been short lived, but her death stung audiences deeper than they ever would have expected.
4. Hershel Greene
Denise may have been considered a fan-favorite at the time of her death, but no character throughout The Walking Dead was more beloved than Hershel Greene. A loving father and faithful friend, Hershel was the one who always knew exactly what to say to keep the entire group from falling apart. After becoming The Governor's prisoner, Hershel was in front of all his friends and family, and smack in the middle of an enormous stand-off. Rick approached The Governor to try and reason with him, using all of the lessons taught to him by Hershel over the years. There's even a moment during Rick's speech where Hershel smiles at him, knowing that his wisdom had gotten through. Just when we thought everything might be okay after all, The Governor calls Rick a liar and takes Michonne's sword straight to Hershel's neck.
As if the shock of the death wasn't bad enough, the producers made the decision to drown out the sound from the rest of the characters. Once Hershel starts to fall, all sound escapes the screen. You're left to stew in that scene with nothing to distract you, and you can only focus on the screaming faces of those he left behind.
This death was depressing, plain and simple, but it also came as a surprise to readers of the comic. In Kirkman's book series, it's Tyrese that gets hacked by The Governor instead. It threw even the deepest of fans into fits of rage, and it remains one of the hardest moments to witness in the show's brutal history.
Some deaths are shocking because they come as a surprise, or because fans have a deep connection with the character. Others, like Noah's, were shocking because of how truly horrific and brutal the death actually was.
In the episode titled "Spend", Glenn leads Noah and Nicholas through a store filled with walkers. Just when the group thinks they're free, they get themselves caught in a revolving door with zombies all around. As Glenn and Noah work together to find a way out, Nichloas bolts and leaves Noah to die.
We've seen characters pulled apart by the flesh-eating monsters, but we've never before seen one torn to absolute shreds right in front of us. Starting at his shoulder and working their way toward his face, the zombies stretched every inch of Noah's skin until it was removed from his body. Each second became worse than the last, and the scene culminates with two hands pulling Noah's face apart at the mouth. This death may not have been as depressing as others, but it's certainly the one no one wants to watch again.
2. Lizzie & Mika Samuels
Zombies have always been scary, but demented children are astronomically more terrifying. After the death of her parents, Lizzie Samuels starts down a disturbing path of murder and insanity. While only a child, she begins experimenting with what happens to animals after she kills them. She thinks that, with just the right amount of damage, something dead can return unharmed. As Carol and Tyrese return emerge from a walk in the woods, their jaws drop as they see Lizzie finish testing this experiment on her younger sister, Mika.
Killing your sister is psychotic to say the least, but Lizzie's twisted calmness in the situation is what really hit fans at the core. In her mind, Lizzie had done the right thing. She was truly insane in those moments, and Carol had no choice but to kill her as well.
With tears in her eyes, Carol pulled the trigger on the young girl, and it was absolutely devastating. Killing a child is no walk in the park, but Carol had become a mother to those girls after their parents were gone. This easily goes down as one of the most disturbing and heart-wrenching moments in the series, and all fans have hope that nothing like it will happen again.
1. Lori Grimes
Bringing a child into the world should always be a beautiful moment, but the birth of Lil' Ass-Kicker tormented the emotions of fans everywhere. After Maggie tells Lori that she can't bring Judith into the world without sacrificing her life, Lori doesn't hesitate. She knows that her baby is the future of their twisted world, and nothing was going to keep her from that destiny. Before she goes, Lori spends her final minutes telling Carl just how much he means to her. The true love of a mother is poured out before us, and all we can do is cry. After her goodbye, Carl watches as Maggie cuts his mom open to save the baby.
It was an incredibly depressing scene to watch, but what came next was even harder to witness. Knowing Lori would return as a walker, Maggie prepared to put a bullet in her head. Before she has the chance, Carl takes the gun and implies he's going to do it himself. Maggie tries to plead that he shouldn't, but Carl delivers the line that rang in our ears for weeks to come; "She's my mom."
The scene can be looked at as a kind of coming-into-manhood story for Carl, but it doesn't negate the fact that it's impossible to watch without bawling like a baby. That beautiful moment of family and respect was enough to make even grown men weep.
There have been plenty of other cringe-worthy deaths throughout The Walking Dead, and they each have their shocking merit. Did you think some of those trumped the scenes on our list? Let us know in the comments below!
The Walking Dead Season 7 premieres Sunday, October 23 at 9/8c on AMC.