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How 'The Walking Dead' Fans Responded to Every Major Character Death

As is par for the course of any episode of The Walking Dead, Sunday night's mid-season finale treated viewers to the death of a longtime high-profile character. This time around (and, obviously, spoilers lie ahead), the unfortunate party was the wide-eyed, good-natured teenager Beth Greene, daughter of the late Hershel and younger sister of Maggie. Kind of a heart-wrencher.

Our grief over the loss of Beth has me reminiscing, rather morbidly, over our former experiences saying goodbye to Walking Dead favorites. If we look back on all the major departures from the series’ five seasons, we’ll recall a variety of fan reactions to those losses. But which character’s death made us the most devastated, the most freaked out, the most sadistically gleeful?

In case you’re having trouble remembering, this gallery runs back through every Walking Dead casualty, recalling just what fans had to say in the wake of bereavement. Check it out, and relive the nightmares.

Image: AMC

Ed, Carol's Horrible Husband

Ed Peletier was the first major death on The Walking Dead, so, naturally, it jarred us a bit more than it would have down the line. Still, nobody was really sad to see Ed go — many fans even championed his passing — since he was an abusive sicko.

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Amy, Andrea's Sister

The first death to really hit was Amy’s, thanks to her pleasant demeanor, agreeable countenance, and relationship with sister Andrea. This one was a doozy, resulting in excess tears both onscreen and off.

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Jacqui and the Doctor-With-A-Secret

The first case of apocalypse-induced suicide on The Walking Dead augmented the impact of the deaths of the largely invisible Jacqui and the mysterious newbie Dr. Ed Jenner. All in all, though, this one was overshadowed by speculation over what it was that the doc whispered to Rick Grimes before pulling the proverbial trigger.

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Otis, Shane's First Victim

Nobody cared much about Otis going into “Save the Last One,” the Season 2 episode that saw him bite the dust, but his death was cause for the sort of charged conversation upon which the show has founded itself. Following self-defense kills and deeds of merciful euthanasia, Otis’ death was The Walking Dead’s first instance of murder, and by a major player no less: the ever complicated Shane.

Vigilant pro-Shaners defended the act; those more aligned with the black-and-white morality of Rick castigated him for criminal behavior. Though Otis may have been a character of little repute, his death kicked off this first of many big debates in the Walking Dead’s run.

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Sophia

This is still one of the heaviest deaths we’ve had to deal with on the show. Although most folks were glad (and quite vocally so) to see the “looking for Sophia” story arc come to an end, nobody was comfortable with seeing Carol’s 11-year-old daughter zombified and gunned down.

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Dale

Toss-up. Dale was a character who split fans down the middle: Some enjoyed his folksy good nature while others chided him for being preachy and self-righteous (and otherwise annoying). When he met his end, disappointed gasps and relieved cheers were likewise plentiful among the viewing public.

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Shane

…but no character, Dale or otherwise, was more divisive than Shane. His ultimate death at the hands of Rick (which some would argue he brought upon himself) was so steeped in the controversy mucked up by the character that fans didn’t have time to emote either way. There was too much arguing to do!

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T-Dog

T-Dog is one character who never quite got his due on The Walking Dead. As such, fans were agitated more than anything else when he met his untimely death in Season 3. Already lacking in ample representation of minority characters, the show’s decision to kill off the beloved and underused T-Dog inspired a good deal of criticism about its frustrating racial inequity. The show has since made some strides to rectify this issue, but it’s nowhere near off the hook yet.

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Lori

Heave your weighty sighs for Lori Grimes, a substantially flawed character who, nevertheless, really hit us hard when she bade farewell to this cruel, Walker-infested world. It didn’t exactly lighten the mood that her preteen son was the one who escorted her into the next life. Lori’s death holds steady in the competition for the saddest death in the show’s history, which is especially impressive considering her, Rick’s, and (most of all) Carl’s marred popularity among fans in her later seasons.

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Merle

“Sad” would be the wrong word to describe any fan’s feelings on Merle’s departure. Nobody liked Merle… but, still, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Walking Dead watcher who wasn’t thrilled every time he was onscreen.

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Andrea

While Andrea’s early tenure on The Walking Dead was rich with favor, her later turns (particularly, those spent in the embrace of The Governor) turned the tables quite a bit in regard to public appreciation. I wouldn’t go so far as to resign her to Carl-levels of hated, but Andrea sure did earn enough backlash to land her with a death that was very nearly welcome by many.

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Hershel Greene

Eh. We all liked Hershel well enough, didn’t we? He was a good guy. Noble, kind, intelligent. So why is it that nobody was particularly rattled by his death… beyond, of course, the nature of its cause (a particularly violent beheading)? Probably because characters not steeped in controversy in a show like this can come off as dull. In any event, we miss you, Hershel. At least in theory.

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The Governor

One word: Finally!

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Lizzie and Mika

Okay, this one was just plain messed up. After Lizzie kills Mika in an attempt to turn her into one of her zombie pals, Carol must kill the remorseless young Lizzie in an attempt to… keep her from killing other people, mostly. Due to our distance from the characters, this instance might not have been particularly sad, but it is easily The Walking Dead’s most disturbing death to date.

Image: AMC

Beth

Well, how do you feel now? Sad? Kind of wish you hadn’t taken Beth for granted all these years? Yeah, I’m with you.

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