The Walking Dead Nearly Gave Axel’s Surprise Death to a Major Character

Former Walking Dead actor Lew Temple reveals "several" series regulars were considered for the surprise death that befell Temple's Axel, who was shot and killed by the Governor (David Morrissey) during a surprise attack on the prison base occupied by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his survivors. In Season 3 episode 10, "Home," Axel is murdered mid-conversation with Carol (Melissa McBride), who is forced to use Axel's corpse as a shield while under heavy fire from Woodbury soldiers that take aim at the survivors — Rick, Michonne (Danai Gurira), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Hershel (Scott Wilson), Beth (Emily Kinney) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) — during the ambush.

The Governor's assault rifle taking aim at Axel "wasn't a for sure by any means," Temple told Skybound's Talk Dead to Me podcast. "There were several other regulars that were up to take it in the head. So it was leaning towards me, so they were trying to make me feel better by going, 'Well, you know, it could be so and so.'"

Temple did not reveal which characters were considered for Axel's death, but the third season earlier came close to killing Carol instead of T-Dog (IronE Singleton). Learning of Axel's fate during a phone call with then-showrunner Glenn Mazzara, Temple tried to convince Mazzara to give Axel's death to Allen (Daniel Thomas May), a newer character belonging to the group led by Tyreese (Chad Coleman).

"They're like, 'No, no,'" Temple recalled. "So then you recognize, 'Look, I'm not talking anyone out of this. It's gonna happen. Okay, I'm gonna put my big-boy pants on, I'm gonna do the best job I can and honor my character.'"

A similar attempt was made by Lincoln, who "actually went to the show and said, 'Look, I think we shouldn't get rid of Axel. I think we shouldn't get rid of Lew Temple. I think all of this is working and can be very serviceable, and he's a good teammate, and it would hurt our team to do that. This isn't the time to do that. Can we delay that?'" Temple said. "And that was really kind."

Unable to prevent Axel's death, Temple had just one request: the actor wanted it to be "shocking," citing the Zapruder film that famously captured the assassination of president John F. Kennedy.

"The head shot, and the finality of what that was, and just the disbelief of that, that it happened. There's something about someone getting shot in the head that's just different, it takes your breath away, regardless," Temple said. "And I felt like that was perfect for what we were trying to do."

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Temple also revealed abandoned plans to reveal Axel as a serial killer who would viciously murder Beth in a storyline inspired by the earliest issues of Robert Kirkman's comic book.

For all things The Walking Dead, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.