If it's time for a Walking Dead finale, that can only mean one thing: someone is gonna diiiiiiie.
Sometimes it's someone minor (sorry, Spencer), sometimes it's someone major (goodbye, Andrea), and sometimes it's just a spate of zombified extras. But when it comes to this week's (December 10) Season 8 midseason finale, we've been promised a big, shocking moment.
Certainly that could mean Rick finally stops sweating for like, a minute; but more likely it means that the cast of AMC's still very much a hit drama recently enjoyed a goodbye dinner, courtesy an exiting cast member.
With that in mind, let's break down the possibilities, from least likely to most.
20. Rick (Andrew Lincoln)
Beyond the fact that Andrew Lincoln is the star of the show, we've seen him in what we're pretty sure are flash-forwards. I'm not talking about the gauzy, dream-like flash-forward we saw with Old Rick, which may be a dream sequence... I'm talking about Red Eye Rick, crying at what may or may not be someone's grave. Rick is the only character we can say with 100% confidence survives the episode.
19. Aaron (Ross Marquand)
Aaron just saw his boyfriend die, and got to take care of a baby as a way of making up for it (I guess?), so he's got enough going on that it doesn't make sense to kill him off.
18. Enid (Katelyn Nacon)
Carl's tree make-out buddy is just a good utility character to have around, and doesn't seem to be in much danger. She'll just survive, somehow.
17. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)
This show belongs to Negan now. "All Out War" isn't ready to end, and neither is the Dirty South's favorite leaning bat-wielder.
16. Carol (Melissa McBride)
After the past few seasons of being put through the emotional ringer, it's been nice to see Carol sort of take a season off and just happily murder some people. It would be shocking (and awful) to watch her die, but there's no real plot reason for that to happen.
15. Tara (Alanna Masterson)
Tara has been meandering even more than Carol, which makes her on the edge of unsafe; but again there's no real story reason to eliminate her right now.
14. Rosita (Christian Serratos)
For most of the season Rosita has been playing with fire, trying to get revenge on Negan for killing Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), among others. But last episode she seemed to back off a bit. Maybe she'll pay the price for that, but I'd put the possibility at slim (even if she does die later on in the comics).
13. Michonne (Danai Gurira)
The broad with the sword has been off-screen most of the season (reportedly she's been off fighting some sort of Infinity War), so there's not a lot of build-up for Michonne dying. It would devastate Rick though, so that might explain those red, crying eyes.
12. King Ezekiel (Khary Payton)
What is the king without his tiger? Like Rosita, Ezekiel dies under different circumstances in the comics, but right now the King is feeling pretty lost. It's an outside chance he'll die, but hey, who knows? That would be pretty shocking.
11. Jadis (Polyanna McIntosh)
Yes, I know everyone wants the Garbage Pail Kids out of the picture, and Jadis aligning herself with Rick to take on Negan puts her in a precarious position. But there's still a lot of naked trash painting weirdness to be eked out of these folks. She'll still be around for a while.
10. Dwight (Austin Amelio)
The man who stole Daryl's lewk is definitely in dire straights. He's betraying Negan, in the midst of the Saviors, and his secret is very, very close to coming out. But Dwight is a cockroach: he could get smashed at any second, but he's good at scurrying for safety when the lights turn on.
9. Daryl (Norman Reedus)
This is probably the highest I've put Daryl on a death list for this show in years. He's as close to Mickey Mouse as TWD's Disney has got, he's the money-maker... But the show has reached a turning point where they really need to start shaking things up. And Daryl has been acting as a loose cannon the past few episodes. He's making mistakes, and could maybe pay for them. Probably not, though.
8. Gregory (Xander Berkeley)
Even though we want the former leader of Hilltop to die, and he has approximately zero survival instincts, I don't think it's quite his time to go yet. I could see him get accidentally killed during an attack (or just slip and fall on a banana peel and die, maybe), but this doesn't feel like the shocking moment we've been promised.
7. Maggie (Lauren Cohan)
Now, this would be shocking. We know from this week's promo that Maggie, horrifyingly, ends up in the same situation that led to last season's infamous "lineup" — and the death of her husband, Glenn (Steven Yeun). To see Maggie die the same way would, frankly, be the last straw for a lot of viewers... Particularly as Maggie is becoming the leader she was meant to be. But yeah, if Maggie dies...
6. Jesus (Tom Payne)
Our favorite kickboxer spent most of the last few episodes begging his fellow post-apocalyptic survivors for mercy for the evil Saviors, and handing out loaves. I don't need to remind you that the whole Jesus thing didn't work out well for that other guy, do I?
5. Simon (Steven Ogg)
If there's a major Savior death coming, it's Simon. He's been getting too big for his britches, and we need to start seeing significant losses on both sides. It's possible Lady With Tattoo On Neck could go, but we really haven't gotten to know her very well yet, which perhaps I may have indicated from not remembering her character's name. Sorry, simple Simon.
4. Morgan (Lennie James)
Morgan dying is a clear fact. I'm not convinced it will happen in this upcoming episode, but he's said goodbye to the cast, and is moving over to Fear the Walking Dead. So he could go this episode, but I think a safer bet is that he'll die in the second half of the season.
3. Eugene (Josh McDermitt)
Yo, kill this dude. To be honest, I don't know if Eugene will die, but as of the last episode he's proved himself to be irredeemable. He told off Father Gabriel, wholeheartedly joined the Saviors, and basically gave up any semblance of goodness. He made his choice, and he sided with the bad guys. He's a goner.
2. Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam)
Father Gabriel is lying in a bed without medicine, about to die of organ failure. If anyone is the logical choice to kick the bucket in the next episode — particularly as he's finally realized his place in the world, and is giving all sorts of people final advice — it's Gabriel. He'll probably do it heroically at this point, to complete his story arc. But there are very few logical ways for him to get out of this one.
1. Carl (Chandler Riggs)
We've discussed this on TV Guide before, but there's a lot of evidence that points towards Carl dying. The biggest piece? His "Paul is Dead" moment in the Old Man Rick vision, walking by the camera but never showing his face. The theory is that Red Eye Rick is at Carl's grave, and picturing what life might have been like if they won the war, and Carl was still alive. Because he's dead. You get it.
Also pointing to his demise? Riggs is doing movies, going to college, and generally growing up IRL. This would be the right time for him to leave the show, and the boy show creator Robert Kirkman has said is the heart of the comic, leaving the TV show, would be the ultimate shocking moment. Bye bye, Carl. Enjoy your pudding in heaven.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.