If you’re a Walking Dead fan, you’re probably super pumped that Season 8 is back on AMC and your favorite television characters like Rick, Carol, Morgan, Maggie, and Daryl are leading a charge against Negan and his group of Saviours. It felt like The Walking Dead off-season was far too long and now, with it back, your Sundays will be full of unexpected turns and potential deaths, as every season of The Walking Dead often is.
Predicting who leaves and who stays is an exercise pretty much every Walking Dead fan will do. It’s become a pastime to try and predict those who will last another season and those who won’t. And this season, with a war raging in the zombie apocalypse, there may be more characters leaving the show than ever.
For those who read the comic books, predicting the future of the television series means that you’re at a slight advantage. The comics are way ahead of the television series, and some of our main characters are already gone. But, to keep the show fresh, the writers do change things from time to time. That means we can take a look at every major character in Season 8 and try to guess, without certainty, who might depart the show and who might survive the season.
Unlike other lists of this kind, we purposely didn’t refer to the comics for any of our predictions. So, if you did, remember, we’re fans of the show and aren’t using a cheat sheet to make our guesses. Go easy on us. Some of these might be obvious; others, not so much. There is no particular order to this list. Below is our list of all 24 main characters in Season 8. Who departs and who stays?
24. Departs – Simon
Next to Negan, Simon is the show’s resident “bad guy.” In other words, he’s Negan’s No. 2 in command, and you can tell as he’s picked up a lot of Negan’s most heel-like qualities. He too is charismatic and constantly smiling in that evil not-going-to-do-anything-admirable kind of way. Therefore, when he gets what’s coming to him, fans will feel a sense of gratification.
Our prediction is that Daryl gets his hands on Simon and does him in this season. After all, Simon has been on the lookout for Daryl since midway through Season 7, and when he finds Daryl, he won’t like what’s waiting for him.
23. Lives – Rick Grimes
Rick is the central character in the show but he’s been teasing that people other than himself should take over as a leader in recent episodes. Therefore, there is always a slight chance that the producers of the show will try to shock everyone by killing off the main character. As Andrew Lincoln gets more and more expensive an actor to keep on the payroll, who knows, that might just happen. We just don’t believe it will be this season.
Rick got beat down pretty badly emotionally in Season 7. The writers literally tore him apart, and this season is meant to be his comeback. Expect him to get some much-deserved revenge on the Saviours who did just about anything and everything to him to try and make him break. Rick will lose some of his crew but it will be a happier season for his character.
22. Departs – Aaron
This is one of those entries where we think we might be wrong, but to even out our list, someone had to get placed in a slot we weren’t entirely comfortable placing them. Aaron will likely live and the main reason (as you’ll read later) is that someone close to him won’t. No need to kill both off, unless of course, they die together.
Aaron is becoming a more central part of the group, and he’s got the skills to be a leader but also the wherewithal to take action. He’s a bit quick to move into fight mode which could prove to be his undoing and him meeting his untimely demise, but that could also mean he puts someone else in danger instead of himself. We listed Aaron as not making it through but we’re really not sold on our choice here.
21. Lives – Jesus
The character Jesus is on the cusp of becoming one of the cooler characters on the show. Fans saw some of that when he showed up in Season 6, but he took a backseat to some of the central stories in Season 7. Expect him to be more awesome and less passenger in Season 8, and (after he survives) will be looked at by the group as a real asset on the front line.
We’re going to suggest that he’s one of the characters fans should keep an eye on this season. We’ll go one step further and predict he takes out a bad guy of critical importance to the Saviours. His fight scenes should be fantastic, his growth as a character important, and his support of Maggie potentially leading to something in future seasons. Praise Jesus, he’s here to stay.
20. Departs – Gregory
Gregory is a pansy, a sell-out, a back-stabbing jerk.. Whatever you want to call him (if it isn’t nice), Gregory probably fits the description. He started Season 8 as the guy who turned his back on the Hilltop and sold his soul to the Saviours. Then, he left Father Gabriel for dead. There’s no doubt, he’s going to get his due in Season 8.
Gregory’s death will be one of those that, as a fan, you’re surprised hasn’t happened yet. He could get it right away, and he could last a few episodes building more and more excitement for when someone finally gets their hands on him and is allowed to remove him from the equation. Our pick is Father Gabriel now that he’s a changed man in many respects.
19. Lives – Tara Chambler
This one was a tougher call than some of the others. Tara is becoming an important part of the show but she’s also right in that zone where her death would be sad but the show would carry on without her. Every season, Walking Dead loses a couple of people like Tara.
The one thing she’s got going for her is the fact that she’s mildly funny in an end of the world drama where funny is a rare quality. Her character’s sense of humor is an important part of the dynamic of the group, and that might be a bigger loss than just killing off someone who’d been on the show for a while. We’re suggesting she lives through Season 8 but we wouldn’t be completely shocked if we were wrong.
18. Departs – Rosita Espinosa
Rosita had some close calls in Season 7 and, if we’re being honest, she probably deserved to get killed. Her inability to work with the group led to Sasha’s death and that she’s sitting out the battle to start Season 8 is probably something that will chew her up a bit. She’s reckless, and that recklessness will eventually cost her something.
The show has been working on adding a layer of depth to her character but they may only be doing so in an effort to make her death more dramatic. Right now, she’s safe. But if she gets antsy again, you can almost bet by the end of the season that she’ll have done something to cost either a member of her group or herself. There’s only so many times she can come close and make it through alive.
17. Lives – Carl Grimes
As a fan of The Walking Dead, would you be willing to watch a show led by Carl Grimes and not Rick Grimes? The producers need to consider that before they cast Carl out on his own to lead the group. We also don’t believe the writers would dare to do something so dramatic to Rick (like kill his son) after Rick’s last season was such an emotional downer.
While he might not be the face of the franchise, Carl’s character is critically important to the show. He needs to take care of his little sister, he needs to mature and become a leader, and he needs to kick a little @$$ as a member of the zombie apocalypse before the show does away with him. They’ve invested so much in his character growing up on the show, it would be insane to kill him before he gets a chance to use what he’s learned.
16. Departs – Dwight
We don’t really know what side Dwight is on yet, but it appears that he’s more anti-Negan than anything else. Negan has screwed him over pretty good for a full season. That said, Dwight has done some pretty awful stuff to guys like Daryl, and that could be the thing that causes his demise just before he realizes he’s not, in fact, a terrible guy.
The question will be on what the show wants to do about expanding his relationship with Negan. If the producers see a big idea and an important story to tell there, they’ll keep Dwight around which will cause tension between the two over the latter part of the season and into the next.
15. Lives – Daryl Dixon
The producers of the show would have to be in a really bad mood if they killed off Daryl. Norman Reedus is about as famous a cast member of the show as there is, and he’s arguably more popular a character than anyone else. His death would be for pure shock value if it took place. The show did that last year with Glenn. I don’t imagine they’ll do so again.
There is still the potential romance between himself and Carol to explore, and it doesn’t seem like that’s one of those things that can be done well in the midst of a season that is mostly about war and fighting. Things will have to calm a bit before the writers can go there. Daryl should be safe for at least one more season. If the ratings suffer, you never know, though.
14. Departs – Jared
Maybe more than Gregory or Simon, Jared is the guy everyone is hoping bites the bullet first. He’s a true @$$ of a character, and when he killed Benjamin last season, it pretty much sealed his fate that Morgan would come back at some point and provide payback. Benjamin was like a son to Morgan, and it led Morgan back down a path of killing and destruction which was a place he was trying to avoid. He won’t soon forget that.
This is one of those deaths where, when you see it, you hope you’re in a big crowd of Walking Dead fans because they’ll be cheering like their sports team just won the SuperBowl. Jared’s death is about as close to a sure thing as there will be on the show this season.
13. Lives – King Ezekiel
The show will often introduce characters to kill them off. It helps fill the death quota without losing every central character. King Ezekiel joined the party last season but was immediately a major player and not the kind of character you simply remove to add to the death count.
The show has only begun to see what he will offer as a leader in the fight against the Saviours, and his character’s pet tiger, Shiva, is a hugely popular addition to the Walking Dead world. If King Ezekiel does depart this season, it won’t be until after Shiva has taken out a few people along the way.
12. Departs – Jerry
As funny and lovable as you are, Jerry, we have a feeling that you’re toast before the end of Season 8. He’s everyone’s best buddy but he’s so loyal to the King that his loyalty will probably see him save Ezekiel at the cost of his own life. The good news is, he’ll go down honorably, like a true soldier in the heat of battle.
Jerry is the character you sacrifice to add depth layers to your main players. In this case, Jerry’s death will help grow King Ezekiel. The good guys are going to have to lose some people in this war, and Jerry logically makes sense to be one of those guys lost from the Kingdom. His comedy will be missed, and the cast members will hate that he’s gone but deaths like his are as much a part of The Walking Dead as anything the show does.
11. Lives – Michonne
Fans are just waiting for Michonne to take over as one of the group’s main leaders. Since Season 2, she’s been stepping aside to let others lead but she’s ready, and her character is completely loved by everyone who watches the show. Her weapon is almost as popular as Daryl’s crossbow, and there will have to be some real action in a war-filled season where that sword gets used.
This is also a season that likely won’t deal with Rick’s emotional side as much as Season 7 did. As such, the killing of Michonne would bring Rick right back to a point of breaking. That’s not what Season 8 is about. Michonne will have a major role in Season 8 as a leader for Alexandria and we believe has many more seasons to go.
10. Departs – Gavin
Gavin is one of those guys that is working for Negan out of fear. He’s not a good guy, and he’s tough when he’s got a ton of people on his side. But as we saw with the premiere of Season 8, he’s quick to back down when push comes to shove. That sort of uncertainty will get him killed, and it could be King Ezekiel that takes him down.
After ordering Ezekiel around for much of Season 7 and belittling him delivery after delivery and offering after offering, Ezekiel could get his revenge which would potentially showcase the first time the King really took the life of another character on the show.
9. Lives – Maggie Rhee
Jesus said it in the first episode of Season 8, and it’s all we needed to hear to believe that Maggie not only makes it through this season but becomes a huge part of the Hilltop group moving forward. Jesus said, “The Hilltop stands with Maggie,” speaking as if she were already their leader after it was discovered that Gregory had abandoned the group.
The show also wouldn’t dare kill off Glenn and Maggie in successive seasons, would they? She needs to move forward in his honor, have their baby, and show that this world can’t take everything away from you.
8. Departs – Eugene Porter
We feel for Eugene who is simply trying to survive another day in a world that is much too crazy for him to handle. Every once in a while, we see signs that he’s getting it, but then he goes and sides with the Saviours and seems to support their cause to save himself. That kind of non-loyalty will eventually get you killed.
The fact is, he turned his back on Rick and the group, and he’s partially responsible for Negan’s current problems. Someone from both sides wants Eugene dead, and when things settle down, he’s likely a goner. With all that in mind, it would be foolish for us to think he doesn’t have a few more get-out-of-jail free cards hidden somewhere. He could last way longer than we all think he will.
7. Lives – Enid
The show needs characters that could potentially be a bigger part of the long-term future of the group, and Enid fits that description. It makes sense to expect that at some point, she and Carl will become a thing and her close relationship to leaders like Maggie will make her a quick vote for second in line (perhaps only to Jesus) at the Hilltop.
Enid means too much to too many people now to simply remove her from the show for the sake of killing off another character. There are a ton of ways the writers can take her story, and it would handcuff them if she were gone too soon. Don’t expect her to be a big part of the battles this season, but when she does get involved, expect it to be impactful.
6. Departs – Eric
We touched on it earlier when we said we weren’t sure if Aaron would make it through or not, and the main reason is that we think his partner, Eric, is gone for sure. Last seen praying (he’s not religious) before fighting back, Eric doesn’t necessarily have the mentality to make it through this. He’s tentative at every turn even though he trusts Aaron who is often a tad reckless.
Eric is one of the few characters on the show that really has no long-term play. He’s not been examined closely enough by the writers to be missed when he goes, and he’s not central enough to assume that he stays. As we said earlier, the good guys will have to lose some people in this war. We think Eric is one of those guys.
5. Lives – Father Gabriel
If you watched the first episode of Season 8, you know that Gabriel is currently screwed. Stuck in a trailer with Negan, Gabriel showed two acts of kindness to many. He spared Negan from Rick and he tried to help Gregory, who eventually turned his back on him. Still, Gabriel isn’t the inexperienced pushover he once was and something tells us he’ll find a way out.
The show looks to only have scratched the surface of how they’ll continue changing Gabriel’s character, and it will take more than a season to make that change complete. We don’t think he’s done for yet, and Gabriel has a lot more to offer. Expect him to make it through Season 8 and come out the other end a much stronger character than ever before.
4. Departs – Jadis
Jadis is unique. That uniqueness could keep her around. That said, she has burned one too many bridges, and there’s got to be a group in this war that doesn’t make it out unscathed. We believe that as leader of the Scavengers, she’s a prime target to be a casualty of war, especially since she’s got both sides not trusting her.
When she betrayed Rick and sided with Negan, the writing was on the wall. The only question is, does this drag out longer than Season 8? Or, does Rick get his revenge sooner than later? She may come around and show a sign of trying to do the right thing, but she’s so unpredictable that guessing whether she lives or dies is really a coin toss at this point.
3. Lives – Carol Peletier
There may not be a character in the entire world of Walking Dead who has changed and grown more than Carol. She went from a victim as an abused wife, to dealing with the loss of her child. She grew up a bit in this world and had to become a killer, then she had to face her own emotions over how many lives she’s taken. By the end of Season 7, she was back and ready to strike realizing that this is not a place you take on alone.
If the show chooses to kill her character off, they’ll take the right amount of time and give it the proper send-off it deserves. We still believe there is something to explore between her and Daryl, so this season is not the season to write her off the show. We wouldn’t be surprised to see her go in a sacrificial way but it will be a hard decision to lose her, and that will likely happen much later in the series.
2. Departs – Morgan Jones
Morgan is caught in a tricky spot. Constantly on the verge of losing himself, we’ve seen so many shades of his character it’s hard to know for certain where he stands. Right now, he’s ready to kill but that doesn’t mean his inner peace won’t struggle with his soldier mentality and that hesitation not cost him.
Morgan is one of those characters the show could lose. It would be impactful, it would keep the quota of important characters to go, and he wouldn’t be leaving too early. When he does depart, we can be confident it will come at a time that he’s at peace with his decision. That said, we think he’ll take out Jared first, and that’s going to be awesome. Morgan will be missed, but he’s been on and off the show for some time now.
1. Lives – Negan
The whole cast of Season 8 is to come after Negan, who made everyone’s lives in Season 7 so miserable. He’s truly hated, but he’s also loved by The Walking Dead Universe of fans because he’s so charismatic. Like any good show, your good guy is so good because he has such a compelling bad guy to play against. Killing Negan will be something that comes with a great deal of thought and time, and it might drag out over more than one season.
There is also the chance that as such a cut and dry bad guy, there is potential to see another side or layer of his character. Perhaps the writers would like to peel back the onion that is Negan a bit and explore that option, especially if it means more character conflict for Rick.