The Walking Dead writer and former showrunner Scott Gimple admits it was "pretty traumatizing" going into a dark mindset when writing the gruesome double deaths of Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) in the zombie drama's season 7 premiere. In "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be," scripted by Gimple and directed by Greg Nicotero, Abraham and Glenn die at the end of a barbwire-wrapped baseball bat swung by a brain-bashing Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Gimple pulled Glenn's straight out of the comic books from creator Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard, but bringing the gory death scene to life was "extremely hard."
"Oh gosh. The Glenn one," Gimple told Looper when asked which character death hit the hardest during his five-season tenure as showrunner. "I would say Glenn — Abraham — I'm not leaving Abraham out of that."
"That episode was really painful to write, and I think I was going through it from Rick, Maggie, and Sasha's perspective, and Rosita's as well — feeling it from their side of things," he explained. "On a script like that, everything is shut down in life, and you're just working on that. And you're just getting inside of that, and that was, from a writing perspective, very difficult to go down that road. And to live inside that episode and then to shoot that episode and feel it."
It was particularly distressing for Gimple because of his relationship with Yeun — a veteran of the series since its premiere season — and Cudlitz, who boarded the show in its fourth season, Gimple's first as showrunner.
"It was traumatic for me especially, I'm close with Steven Yeun and Michael Cudlitz. Even to write that episode correctly, I think you had to feel it, and it was pretty traumatizing," Gimple said. "All of the deaths have been very hard, extremely hard. But that one, I kind of lived through it to write it."
The gore-filled season opener drew scathing criticism from viewers, particularly from those who filed complaints with the FCC about the "sadistic" and "graphically violent" nature of the episode.
The gore-filled season opener drew scathing criticism from viewers, particularly from those who filed complaints with the FCC about the "sadistic" and "graphically violent" nature of the episode. Lauren Cohan, who plays Glenn's at-the-time pregnant wife Maggie, also points to Glenn's death as the "hardest thing" she's ever done as an actor.
"As difficult as it is to pick any scene as the hardest or the most emotional for Maggie, or for Lauren on The Walking Dead, I would say it would be when Glenn was killed by Negan," Cohan recently told FOX TV UK. "On every level, on a physical and just a completely shackled, impossible circumstance, it was the hardest thing I think I've ever done as an actor."