Sunday's episode of Fear the Walking Dead contained a truly shocking death. Nick Clark (Frank Dillane), one of the show's main characters who had been with the Walking Dead spin-off since the pilot, was fatally shot; with that death, the old, pre-creative reboot version of Fear the Walking Dead was fully laid to rest.
New showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg told The Hollywood Reporter about the decision to kill off Nick, revealing it wasn't their decision to write the character out. The choice was actually Frank Dillane's, as the actor had asked to leave the show to pursue other opportunities in Season 3, before they had even joined the show.
"One of the first things we were tasked with when we came on to run Season 4 was to really find a story that would give Nick a fitting sendoff," Chambliss said. "He's been with the show from day one, so it was very important to us and to Frank to find a death for him that was emotional and one that would ripple forward throughout the storytelling."
Chambliss said that Dillane broke the news that he'd be leaving to his co-stars himself, and that the emotion his co-stars showed during his death scene was genuine. "Alycia Debnam-Carey, Colman Domingo and Danay García were all very sad to see a co-worker who they became very close with over the years leave," he said.
Dillane himself told Entertainment Weekly that he just wanted to move on.
"I had been doing it for three or four years, the show has undergone many changes in terms of different people in charge, all of this stuff, and I just felt like the beginning of this season kind of felt like the end of an era with this show," Dillane said. "And television is hard work, and you have to shoot a lot. I also missed Europe very much. I'm not American, so after a while I get quite homesick and all of those things. I also felt like we had achieved what needed to be achieved in the first few seasons, so I thought it was time to keep moving."
Dillane said he's not very "emotionally intelligent" and was in a bad mood when shooting the scene because it was early in the morning and he was cold, but now that the episode is out in the world he's finally processing it.
"But having now heard and having some reception back from people, and the more I think about Nick and his arc and his death, I had a little cry yesterday, funnily enough. [Laughs]" he said. "It takes me a while before stuff sinks in. I'm certainly going to miss Nick."
But this is not the last we'll see of him. Fear the Walking Dead is unfolding over two timelines, and Nick is only dead in the later one. "There's more story to be told with Nick that we think will provide some emotional context for why he's such a different person when we find him in the present day story, than how we've seen him in the Diamond," said Goldberg.
The season will continue exploring the fallout from Nick's death in the present timeline, while showing what happened to get the characters to where they are now in the past timeline.
Fans were mostly unhappy with the decision to kill off Nick, with people tweeting sentiments like "Killing Nick on Fear The Walking Dead is like killing Rick on The Walking Dead...the worst decision the writers could have ever possibly made for the series." But the fact that Dillane wanted to leave should change their opinions. It was a moving, respectful sendoff for a beloved character, and the writers did they best they could with a tough situation.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.