Emily Kinney says she asked The Walking Dead showrunner not to make a dramatic change to Beth before killing off her character in Season 5. Kinney plays Beth, daughter of Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) and half-sister to Maggie (Lauren Cohan), on Seasons 2—5 between 2011 and 2014. After Beth goes missing while on the road with Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Season 5 episode "Slabtown" reveals Dawn Lerner's (Christine Woods) police officers abducted Beth and transported her to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. At Fandemic Tour Atlanta this weekend, Kinney revealed she asked then-showrunner Scott Gimple to scrap plans for Beth to return with a shaved head if she wasn't surviving the season.
"Scott Gimple talked to me one day about — I don't know if you guys remember, but [Beth] had a big scar, when I show up in the hospital, something bad happened to [Beth] and I had a big scar. He had this idea of the scar being on my head and my head being shaved, all messed up — not completely shaved, but all messed up," Kinney said at Fandemic's "Fallen Heroes" panel. "I said, 'Okay, sure, as the dedicated actress, I would love that. However, if you're thinking we might kill her off soon, please, no, because I would like to get another acting job after this' [laughs]."
Kinney restated her willingness to shave her head, and "then it wasn't in the script that I shaved my head," she added. "So then I was like, okay, I didn't necessarily think I was going to die."
"Surprise," interjected former co-star Alanna Masterson, who played Tara. "Yeah," Kinney said. "But I'm glad that we didn't shave my head."
After Beth died in episode 508, Kinney told The Hollywood Reporter Gimple broke the news during an in-person meeting on episode 507, hours before the cast received the script for Beth's death-isode.
"I was really sad and shocked, I had no idea," Kinney said in the 2014 interview. "I had a meeting with Scott Gimple and it was very sad. He didn't explain why [Beth was being killed off], but he said it was something he had been planning since Season 4. I was very upset. We both love working together and for whatever reason, that's how he saw the character going."
After exiting The Walking Dead, Kinney went on to appear in roles on Masters of Sex, The Knick, and The CW's The Flash.