On February 12, The Walking Dead will make its big mid-season return to TV — which means that now is the moment for savvy fans to start getting ready to say goodbye. With a major confrontation coming between the Grimes Gang and the evil Saviors, there is zero chance that we'll make it to the Season 7 finale without some serious bloodshed, including the loss of at least one major character. Why? Because it's tradition! And also because the showrunners of The Walking Dead are soulless monsters who delight in the suffering of others!
Of course, that doesn't mean that every life on the AMC series is under equal threat. (Rick, for instance, is almost certainly safe for the duration... although he may be missing an extremity or two before the show calls it quits.) Below, we've rounded up the five characters who are least likely to be around for Season 8.
Though Carl (Chandler Riggs) has come a long way from his early days as the series' most annoying character, for practical reasons, there's a good chance that this will be his last season among the living. Riggs' original contract with The Walking Dead was complete once filming wrapped on Season 7, and he's been extremely cagey since then about discussing his future on the show. Add to that the fact that Riggs is entering college shortly, and let's just say we won't be shocked if poor Carl is a casualty of the coming war. At least Rick has a spare kiddo if the unthinkable happens.
Much as we'd hate to say goodbye to Carol (Melissa McBride) she's been living on borrowed time for years now — ever since McBride convinced the showrunners not to kill her off back in Season 1. Since then, she's been transformed from a grieving mother to a badass gunslinging baker, only to abandon it all in favor of a non-violent life of hermitude on the outskirts of the Kingdom. That's a long and satisfying arc for a character who was originally supposed to be disposable, so let's just say we won't be shocked if Season 7 is where it all ends for Carol.
Much as nobody really believes that The Walking Dead would risk the white-hot wrath of fans by offing Daryl (Norman Reedus) he always comes up as a contender on these most-likely-to-die lists simply because he doesn't exist in the show's source material, and therefore we have no idea when and where his storyline might end. As one of the few core characters invented just for the TV series, Daryl isn't beholden to a pre-written arc from Robert Kirkman's comics; he could die at any moment.
It's hard to imagine The Walking Dead without Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) who's outlived a brother and two boyfriends to become a key member of Rick's crew. But as indispensable as Sasha is to Alexandria, the actress who plays her is in high demand — and is about to take a job on the outskirts of the galaxy. With Martin-Green officially headlining the upcoming Star Trek revival, the chances are ever slimmer that her character on The Walking Dead will survive to next season.
Of all the entries on our list, this one is the closest to a sure thing. Negan's right-hand man Dwight (Austin Amelio) with the melted face is definitely a scrappy survivor, but c'mon, there's no way he's not dying this season. With no chance of seeing Negan vanquished before the finale (Jeffrey Dean Morgan has already confirmed that he'll be back in Season 8) it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that another member of his crew will have to die in the upcoming battle between the Alexandrians and the Saviors. It's only fair! And as far as the likeliest suspects, Dwight is top of the list — not only because he's the next-most villainous baddie on the block, but because the show has been fleshing out his backstory in a way that almost always leads to death.
The Walking Dead returns Sunday, Feb. 12 at 9/8c on AMC.