[Warning: This story contains major spoilers about AMC's The Walking Dead and the comic book series that inspired it. Read at your own risk.]
Given recent headlines, some fans of AMC's The Walking Dead may have been expecting the death of a certain major character. But on Sunday's episode, an entirely different character bit the big one instead.
Did AMC's website spoil a major event on The Walking Dead this season?
After spending much of the episode trying unsuccessfully to convince Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Shane (Jon Bernthal) and the rest of the survivors not to kill Randall (Michael Zegen), Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) was attacked and had his guts ripped out by a walker — the same one Carl (Chandler Riggs) had earlier foolishly taunted in the mud. With no hope of Hershel (Scott Wilson) being able to save him, Daryl (Norman Reedus) stepped up to the plate to end Dale's suffering by putting a gun to his head.
Even though Dale has mostly been a bit of a grumpy grandpa figure on the show, when that gunshot rang out as the episode went to black, we couldn't help but be a little bummed about it. Here's three reasons why (and one final warning: Spoilers are ahead):
1. Dale's death was way less cool than his comic book counterpart: In the comic series, Dale fell victim to a horde of walkers (or roamers) who bit him on the shoulder. After lying to the group about being bitten, Dale was knocked out and kidnapped by two strangers. When he woke up, the men had... wait for it... severed his lower leg and were spit roasting it over a fire. Yup, they were cannibals. Dale had the last laugh, though, since his "meat" was tainted by the walker bite. After being returned to camp, Andrea (Laurie Holden) mercifully shot him in the head.
2. Dale and Andrea, no more. Dale and Andrea's father-daughter relationship in the comics eventually turned into something more, well, sexual. Before the second season went back into production, Holden told TVGuide.com she was particularly looking forward to that storyline. "It was totally unexpected," Holden said of her reading Andrea's hook-up with Dale in the comics. "I wasn't warned about it. I literally turned a page and saw my naked comic book character with Dale. They couldn't have hired somebody better to play this, and we're going to really honor the relationship well." Sadly, it looks like they won't. Instead, Andrea had a romp with Shane earlier this season, though their comic book characters never did.
3. We worry this might lessen the impact of that other (rumored) death. From the beginning of The Walking Dead's TV run, comic readers have wondered how long Shane, who died very early in the books, would stick around. With reports that Bernthal is in talks to join Frank Darabont's TNT pilot, and a recent snafu on AMC's website, it seems increasingly likely that Shane is not long for this world. But with Dale's death coming just a few weeks before the finale, The Walking Dead will have to do something even more spectacular to send Shane off the right way.
Are you sad to see Dale go?
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.