The odds of Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) making it out of The Walking Dead Season 8 alive are close to zero. The redeemed priest is very ill, which means he either got bit or caught something (possibly radiation sickness, according to one theory), and it's not like he's getting top-of-the-line medical treatment. Plus, he's trying to smuggle Dr. Carson (R. Keith Harris) out of the Sanctuary and into the Hilltop, a mission with a high likelihood of failure in which the upshot would be execution. So prepare to say goodbye to Gabe sometime in the next seven episodes.
Gilliam wouldn't tell TV Guide whether or not he dies in Season 8 (even though we asked very nicely!), but he did reflect on his journey so far and how he'd like Gabriel to die.
"I thought that Father Gabriel would be dead in about three episodes," The Wire alum says of when he got the job on The Walking Dead in Season 5. "I thought that he would be a device to get a larger character killed. I thought that it would be Tyreese [Chad L. Coleman]. I had a whole thing planned out in my head where Father Gabriel was going to be surrounded in some way and Tyreese would come to his rescue with the hammer and then wind up getting bitten, and then they lose Tyreese and then Father Gabriel winds up getting eaten anyway." But he's still here when so many others are gone.
The show is approaching where Father Gabriel died in the comics timeline, and while Gilliam would prefer to keep his job, he admits that recreating Gabriel's death from the comics would be pretty cool.
"It was a fantastically operatic death," he says. "Hanging upside with broken bones and being slit open and fed upon by an entire herd of walkers I think is definitely a way to go out."
But if he had to choose how Father Gabriel sheds his mortal coil, it would be a very un-Walking Dead death. "In his sleep by a massive coronary would be good," he says. "With a warm smile on his face. At the age of 97."
Seems unlikely, but it's a nice thought.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.