The 13 Most Shocking 'The Walking Dead' Child Deaths, Because No One Is Safe On The AMC Show

If you've been watching AMC's The Walking Dead for six years, then you're no stranger to the intense-even-for-cable levels of violence and gore that is the show's trademark. Zombies are dispatched in gruesomely clever ways every week, (almost) no character is safe, and the number of deaths witnessed onscreen rivals even HBO's Game Of Thrones in terms of sheer volume. That's all to be expected at this point. But there's one way in which the violence on the show can still disturb audiences… and that's when it's directed towards children. After a series of shocking events in an episode involving the deaths and brutal maiming of several young characters, the Walking Dead producers were forced to leap to their show's defense in The Hollywood Reporter.

"When we're crafting the stories, it's more about characters vs. how old they are," explained executive producer Greg Nicotero. "The comic doesn't pull any punches, and one of the things that's important for us is that we honor that spirit by continuing to do things that are unexpected." And so, ripped from the pages of Robert Kirkman's comic series, little Ron Anderson was devoured by zombies along with his mother Jessie shortly before his older brother Sam was stabbed to death and young Carl Grimes received a near-fatal bullet through the eye, permanently disfiguring him. Even for The Walking Dead, it was a bloodbath of near Red Wedding-level proportions — and almost entirely directed towards characters under the age of 17.

But that was far from the first time The Walking Dead has committed violence against minors. (Heck the very first scene of the very first episode featured our hero Rick gunning down a pint-sized zombie.) By this point, 76 episodes in, it may even be difficult to remember all the times a child has been killed on the show. Well, here are all 13 times we've seen a young character — and by character I mean someone who was at least important enough for us to know their name — die on the six seasons of The Walking Dead so far, ranked by shock value.

13. Sam Anderson (6x09: "No Way Out")

It took six years for The Walking Dead to show viewers a child getting devoured alive by zombies for the first time… and it wasn't a pleasant sight. Even so, it wasn't exactly much of a "shock," considering how much of a scaredy cat young Sam was. Even Nicotero himself acknowledged to THR that there was no other outcome possible for the youngest Anderson: "There's a moment when he could have gone with Gabriel back to the church, but the minute he says, 'No mom, I can do this,' he seals his own fate."

12. Ron Anderson (6x09: "No Way Out")

Likewise, Sam's big brother Ron has had a target on his back pretty much since the sullen teenager was introduced — but his doom was all but guaranteed when he tried to kill Carl a couple episodes back. Leave it to The Walking Dead to make a young boy meeting the business end of a katana more of a relief than a surprise.

11/10. A.J. & Becca Ford (5x05: "Self Help")

Did you even remember that Abraham used to have kids? When the character received a flashback episode, it was revealed that he and his wife, Ellen, had two children, A.J. and Becca. Of course, already knowing what a lone ranger he was in the present made their untimely deaths-by-zombie much less of a shock. At least we didn't have to see them get munched onscreen.

9. Penny Blake (3x08: "Made To Suffer")

OK, so we never even knew Peggy when she was technically "alive." The fact that the sadistic Governor kept his zombified daughter chained up in his house was more shocking by itself than her ultimate demise. But still, the sight of Michonne shoving a sword through the back of a young girl's head is still discomforting, regardless of her current brain-eating state.

8. Beth Greene (5x08: "Coda")

Beth's graphic death by gunshot was less disturbing on its face by virtue of the simple fact that she was the oldest of the child characters on the show, probably around 17- or 18-years-old when she was killed. It also didn't help the shock factor that the death game in a midseason finale, which usually feature the death of at least one major character, so we sort of all saw it coming. Still, it was sad to see her go after some really great character development over the past few seasons.

7. Duane Jones (3x12: "Clear")

We never saw Duane die on- or even off-screen. We only heard about it well after the fact, from his disconsolate father, Morgan. But Duane and Morgan were two of the very first characters we met in the pilot, so learning of his demise was still saddening and very much an unexpected turn of events — especially when we learned that he was eaten by his own zombified mother, who Morgan hadn't been able to bring himself to kill.

6. Andre Anthony (4x09: "After")

Another flashback episode, another dead child. Like A.J. and Becca, it wasn't necessarily a "shock" to learn that Andre had died, given Michonne's childless state in the present. It was really more of a shock to even learn that she had a son to begin with. But as by far the youngest victim in the show's history, something about learning Andre's fate was still hard to digest, even given its inevitability.

5. Sophia Peletier (2x07: "Pretty Much Dead Already")

We were all so innocent way back in Season 2. Even as things started to look hopeless in the endless search for Sophia, we all probably still hoped that things would turn out OK one way or another. So when the group finally found the missing girl — and she was already a zombie — it felt like a punch in the gut. When Rick shot Sophie, he was both putting a bullet in the head of an innocent young girl and one in the head of an interminable storyline that was trying viewers' patience.

4. Meghan Chambler (4x08: "Too Far Gone")

We didn't really know Meghan, the daughter of Lilly Chambler and part of the Governor's surrogate family, that well. But watching a zombie lurch out of the mud pit she was playing in and bite her neck was jarring nonetheless and did a superb job of highlighting the arbitrary nature of the show's post-apocalyptic landscape. The Governor then emotionlessly putting little Meghan down for good was just the sad cherry on top of an already depressing story.

3. Jody (3x16: "Welcome To The Tombs")

Jody's death wasn't so much shocking for what it meant for his character — we had just met him that episode and most people probably didn't even know his name — but for what it meant for his killer. Carl gunned the young Woodbury resident down even as Jody was surrendering… illustrating how far the naïve young boy of Season 1 had progressed in three short seasons.

2. Mika Samuels (4x14: "The Grove")

Just as the double-whammy of the Anderson boys' deaths failed to shock in perhaps the way the writers intended, the deaths of the Samuels' sisters had the exact opposite effect. In what will probably remain one of The Walking Dead's best episodes, little Lizzie unleashed her latent psychotic tendencies and murdered her own sister, Mika, determined to prove that people would always come back.

1. Lizzie Samuels (4x14: "The Grove")

Mika's murder was only overshadowed by her own sister's death. Knowing that her group would never be safe if she allowed such an unstable young mind to remain alive, Carol did what no one else would have been willing to do and executed Lizzie in cold-blood, telling the girl to "look at the flowers" while she aimed a pistol at the back of her head. Unlike the deaths of the Anderson brothers, which felt simultaneously senseless and mildly relieving, the deaths of Mika and Lizzie were the sad and unavoidable culmination of a slow-burn storyline that devastated the characters on the show and the viewers watching the show equally.

That's the kind of weight that the death of a child deserves.

Images: Gene Page (8), Screengrab (4)/AMC