The current season of The Walking Dead has certainly been a bloody one, with Abraham, Glenn, Spencer, and Olivia all being dispatched by Negan or a Savior goon, while Heath is still missing and presumed dead. The show will also most likely kill off another major character before the end of the season, with Sasha being the current frontrunner, but according to creator Robert Kirkman, fans can expect character deaths to be much less frequent in the future.
Writing in the Letter Hacks column of The Walking Dead Issue #163, Kirkman explains why there shouldn’t be anywhere near as many deaths as there were earlier in the series. Bear in mind that he’s talking about the comics here, but it can be assumed that his remarks apply to the TV series as well:
In my opinion, there should be LESS death in the book now, MUCH less, because the careless people, the scared people … the people learning how to live in this world … are already dead. This is the cream of the crop, so to speak. So, yes, there can be a conflict like the Whisperer War, and there can be very little death. You think Michonne is going to just let herself get bitten by a zombie or stabbed by a Whisperer at this point? It wouldn’t be believable! Rick, Andrea, Carl, Jesus, Dwight, Negan, Maggie … these people are tempered steel! That’s not to say they’re invulnerable, or “safe” now … but it would take a LOT to kill them.
While Kirkman definitely has a point when he mentions that characters like Rick and Michonne are such seasoned survivors that they long ago passed the point of making dumb decisions that would lead to violent deaths, we would posit that another reason why we won’t be seeing many of these characters killed off anytime soon is that the series doesn’t really have all that many main characters left anymore. The core group of survivors has been whittled down significantly and while efforts have been made to introduce new characters to help fill the void, no one really wants to see the likes of Aaron or Tara become main characters.
Then again, it’s hard to maintain tension when the audience figures out that certain characters are safe, so it will be interesting to see how The Walking Dead handles character deaths over the next few seasons. The truth of the matter is that not every actor is going to want to stay on the show forever, so as much as certain survivors may be safe for the time being, that won’t be the case forever.
In other words, pray for Daryl Dixon.