As we enter a new season of The Walking Dead, it’s time to break out the dartboard of characters to predict who won’t make it to next year. At the end of the first half of season eight, we received confirmation that Carl Grimes was the next of the original Atlanta group to go. Despite how much fans of the young Grimes may fight it, his death is inevitable.
That happens in episode 8.9, which leaves an entire half of the season left to kill off a bunch of characters. Who won’t be making it to season nine? From contract disputes to a crossover with Fear the Walking Dead, there are a few characters whose departure may be inevitable. The others just sort of fit within the narrative and the formula The Walking Dead has had since its earlier seasons.
Who Will Die by Season 9?
A recent conflict with Lauren Cohan’s The Walking Dead contract has left the fate of Maggie up in the air. Even the series’ showrunners are speaking as if there’s an uncertainty in Cohan’s return for season nine. It may make sense to write her off in such a way that allows her return in the second half of the season, but there doesn’t seem to be a plausible cause for her just to vanish. Maybe she could go the “Glenn Rhee” route and have a fake-out death, but fans did not react well when Glenn was shown to have survived his zombie run-in.
No. Without a contract, it’s very likely that Maggie could kick the bucket. Co-star Seth Gilliam, who portrays Father Gabriel, is confident in the show’s ability to move on without her. In reality, it could leave writers scrambling for a fix.
The biggest issue at this point is, unless they do an emergency reshoot of the last episode, Maggie's departure would be off-screen in between seasons. Now that's a conundrum the show hasn't dealt with yet.
It’s been known for a bit that Lennie James was departing The Walking Dead to join Fear the Walking Dead, the polarizing prequel series. Morgan may officially be done with Rick and company by the end of season eight, but that doesn’t guarantee he’s going to become another victim of All Out War. James’s character isn’t new to departing the show without being killed off, so it’s very possible, especially considering his recent conflicts with other survivors and within himself, that he again goes solo in the undead world.
This time, however, it’s more likely that his end on The Walking Dead will be the permanent kind. It would be incredibly frustrating to watch Morgan go through the changes he’s exhibited only to completely regress back to a recluse. Morgan deserves better than that at this point, even if it means being torn apart.
Father Gabriel Stokes
Earlier, I mentioned The Walking Dead’s “formula.” On many occasions, it’s gone like this: A character finds their purpose and, within an episode or two, they wind up dead. It happened to Beth, Dale, Sasha and, in a way, even Shane, who realized it was his lot in life to lead the group. During season eight’s first half, Gabriel didn’t have a huge role, but whenever he was on screen, he seemed to be contemplating his “purpose” in the world. Then, in his last scene of episode 8.5, he seemed to have found it.
Promos for season eight have shown Gabriel recovered from his mysterious illness, but that doesn’t mean he’s safe. Now hellbent on delivering a doctor to Hilltop, there are plenty of ways for the man of God to meet his maker. He may have gotten on Negan’s good side, but there is still plenty of time for him to ruin that bond.
Maybe this is more wishful thinking than anything as “King” Ezekiel has become one of the more obnoxious characters on the show. In print, his character is charming and doesn’t feel as ridiculous as his televised portrayal. With Shiva gone and the Kingdom’s population decimated, Ezekiel is left in the hands of Negan’s men as a shell of his former, boisterous self.
Loveable Jerry may still look up to Ezekiel as his king, but the former leader is easily replaceable and has worn out his welcome. Feeling that he let his people down, it’s entirely possible that he sacrifices himself for the good of the Kingdom. There aren’t many that could take his place, however; though if Carol ever broke out of her shell, she could make a fine queen.
Steve Ogg wasn’t safe in Grand Theft Auto V, and he most certainly isn’t safe in The Walking Dead. As Negan’s second-in-command, he’s right in line to be murdered by any of Rick’s allies. He’s made no friends at Hilltop, especially after his last interaction with Maggie. In fact, there even seems to be a bit of a rift happening between Simon and Negan that could end poorly.
As All Out War is expected to end by the closing of season eight, Simon’s death is almost a guarantee. He’s a big proponent of the Saviour’s ways, meaning it’s highly unlikely that he’ll switch sides to assist Rick. Viewers can expect a very memorable death for one of the season’s saving graces.
Negan’s Inner Circle
Not all of the Saviours will meet a gruesome end before season nine. Rick and the other communities will show mercy to those who surrendered, but fans shouldn’t expect to see Negan’s “inner circle” in the line of people surrendering. Gavin and Regina have been devoted to both Simon and Negan, and while Gavin has shown patience with Ezekiel in the past, he’s still standing firmly on the “wrong” side.
Eugene has since joined Negan’s inner circle, and while his actions have very-much-so earned him a bullet, it seems more fitting that he survive and atone for his wrong-doings. He’s totally zombie meat in season nine, though.