Fear the Walking Dead Showrunners "Wanted to Break People's Hearts" With Big John Dorie Episode

Showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg "wanted to break people's hearts" with the shocking death that starts off Season 6B of Fear the Walking Dead. Spoilers for Season 6 Episode 8, "The Door." After an almost five-month break between episodes due to coronavirus-caused delays, Fear returned Sunday with the biggest twist kill-off since Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) when Dakota (Zoe Colletti) — the younger sister of Morgan's (Lennie James) enemy Virginia (Colby Minifie) — shot and killed fan-favorite gunslinger John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt). The exiting actor already revealed how Dorie's death was planned back in Season 5 before coming to pass in Season 6, and now Chambliss and Goldberg are opening up about the "why" behind John Dorie's demise:

"Well, this has been, from the beginning of the season, about Morgan trying to put the family back together that was ripped apart. And where this family really began was with Morgan and John Dorie in Season 4," Goldberg told Entertainment Weekly. "And at that time, Morgan was in a place where he didn't want to be with people, he was running away on his own, he didn't want to connect with people, and the person who brought him back from all that was John Dorie."

Though John is depressed and suicidal in "The Door," Dillahunt's character "has always been this incredible point of light, this optimistic, hopeful beacon in the apocalypse, and really, we looked at John Dorie and Morgan as the beginnings of this family," Goldberg continued. "And we knew that there had to be a cost to the war with Virginia, and, to this family, who is on the precipice of coming back together, losing someone that's so much the glue and the heart of this family, putting everyone else in a position where, how are they going to move forward now, without someone so critical to who they are. They're still fighting Virginia, but now they've got this giant hole of missing John Dorie, and it's going to have huge ripple effects on everyone going forward. So it's a long way of saying we love him, and the characters love him, and people had to feel it."

Justice for John just might come in "Things Left to Do," where the widowed June Dorie (Jenna Elfman) is in the middle of Morgan's long-awaited confrontation with an outgunned Virginia.

"We talked about what the cost would be of what Virginia was doing to everyone, and how they were going to fight back. And it is looking at all the characters in John Dorie's orbit, and thinking about how they'll move forward, and what it will do to them," said Chambliss. "And ultimately it comes down to the fact that we have to remind ourselves we can't be precious about any of these characters, and we have to do what is going to continue to evolve the show, and continue to push the show in new directions, push all the remaining characters in new directions."

The showrunners, who took over Fear from co-creator Dave Erickson with Season 4, created the John Dorie character with Dillahunt in mind.

"John Dorie is one of our favorite characters, he's so much fun to write because he was kind of a beacon of hope in the apocalypse, and he was so specific in his characterization," Chambliss said. "And Garret just did such an incredible job bringing him to life that it was one of those realizations you have where you're just like, 'No, why does this have to all fall into place this way?' I think as writers, we go through a mourning in the same way the characters do, and the same ways as hopefully the audience will."

When the gunned down John washes up on the shore of his cabin — tragically mirroring his first meeting with June — John Dorie has reanimated as a walker that must be put down by his wife.

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"We wanted to break people's hearts, and we wanted to make it feel as though he might just be able to come out of this," Goldberg said, "so that when he doesn't, and June is faced with the unthinkable of seeing the person she loves as a walker on the shores of the cabin, it was just, I mean, honestly it felt like the most heartbreaking ending imaginable for both of those characters."

Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD. New episodes of Fear the Walking Dead Season 6 premiere Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.