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The Walking Dead season 7 premiere: why everyone thinks [spoiler] will die

Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

This article discusses speculation and plot from the sixth season of the show.

Who’s going to die on The Walking Dead?

Ever since the show finished its sixth season in April, that’s been the question surrounding the series. The season six finale ended with a cliffhanger: Villain Negan lined up Rick’s entire crew and pummeled one of them with the spiked baseball bat he affectionately refers to as "Lucille." The last shot of the episode showed us the gory, violent murder only through the eyes of the victim, without actually revealing who the victim is.

Much has been made of how the cliffhanger was a poorly executed stalling tactic aimed at baiting fans rather than telling a story. But that’s beside the point.

Someone is dying in the season seven premiere, and now’s as good a time as any to place our bets on which unfortunate soul will meet his (or her) demise.

Over the past few months, a few popular theories as to who will meet Lucille have materialized, and some have been bolstered by real-world happenings — like details being leaked about who’s (and who’s not) on set, or cast members posting spoilery personal photos on Instagram (if someone regularly posts pictures that aren’t taken anywhere near where the show is filming, one could surmise that their character is no longer part of the show).

Here’s who we’re betting on getting the brutal end, based on the evidence.

Maggie (Lauren Cohan)

Why Maggie could be Negan’s victim: Maggie was not in great shape when we last saw her. She was experiencing medical complications from her pregnancy, and the group was trying to find medicine for her. And she’s in the group that Negan captures. But neither of those things is why people believe Maggie is going to bite the dust.

The reason people think Maggie will die is that back in May, when The Walking Dead was supposed to be filming in Georgia, Lauren Cohan posted an Instagram photo of herself on a beach:

A photo posted by Lauren Cohan (@laurencohan) on

It’s a mundane picture. But it shows she wasn’t on set for at least part of season seven — the places where The Walking Dead is shot are inland.

And two weeks later, another Instagram shot revealed she was traveling again:

make mine a double

A photo posted by Lauren Cohan (@laurencohan) on

It’s unclear where Cohan was headed, but it might show that she wasn’t present during filming.

The other reason people believe Maggie is Negan’s victim came out of New York Comic Con earlier this month. During The Walking Dead’s panel, Cohan broke into tears when asked about the season.

"You all have been on such a huge journey with us," she said to the audience. "Thank you for caring about our show, and for getting mad when you don’t know things. … This is larger than our lives; this is larger than our show. This is such a privilege. This is such a great thing."

That answer, coupled with the tears, has been interpreted as a goodbye of sorts.

Why Maggie might live: There are a couple of reasons, but the first is optics. Does The Walking Dead really want to be the show that kills off a pregnant woman with a baseball bat? To be clear, lots of people die on The Walking Dead, and death is an integral and titular part of the show. But there’s just something a bit uncouth and grimy-feeling about a man killing off a pregnant woman in a completely violent way.

Maggie would also be the second main character on the show to die while pregnant. (Lori Grimes seemingly died after receiving an improvised Caesarian section.)

The other reason Maggie might live is that her death is just too obvious. The Walking Dead is pretty good when it comes to keeping spoilers under wraps, and one would think that if her Instagram photos were spoilers, the show’s production team would ask her to take them down. It’s possible that the photos, as well as Cohan’s tears at NYCC, could all just be a devious misdirect.

Glen (Steven Yeun)

Why Glen could be Negan’s victim: The Walking Dead is based on a comic book, and in that comic book, it’s Glenn who has the face-to-bat meeting with Lucille.

Glenn’s death in the comic is, to this day, one of its most iconic moments (if not the most iconic). It also happens to occur in a milestone issue, No. 100.

Granted, the television show hasn’t always followed the comic book, and it isn’t, by any means, a direct translation of it. But if The Walking Dead’s creative team were to choose any scene from the show’s source material to faithfully adapt, one would think it’d be Glen’s death.

Why Glen might live: There are two big reasons, and one of them involves Demi Lovato.

Back in August, the cast of The Walking Dead sent Demi Lovato a message on the singer’s 24th birthday, and in the video, Yeun’s Glenn appears alongside Darryl, Rick, and Dr. Eugene Porter. It suggests that Yeun was still filming in August, later into season seven’s production schedule, meaning Glenn was presumably not killed.

Beyond that, Glenn already almost died in The Walking Dead’s sixth season, in another giant cliffhanger between the show’s winter hiatus and midseason premiere. If he were to actually die this time around, it would cheapen that previous cliffhanger while also making the show seem a bit overindulgent and perhaps annoying in what it’s done to Glenn over the span of a season. Television shows typically don’t tease out the possible death and ambiguous survival of one character, save him, and then repeat the process just a few months later.

Daryl (Norman Reedus)

Why Daryl could be Negan’s victim: A running rumor swirling around Daryl is that the actor who plays him, Norman Reedus, is trying to leave The Walking Dead. In 2015, the rumor started because Reedus put his Atlanta home up for sale. In 2016, people speculated that he was upset that his character couldn’t be Rick’s right-hand man (there are a few characters who fill that role now), and therefore didn’t serve a purpose. These days, Reedus also has his own reality show, Ride With Norman Reedus, which has led some to believe he might bolt to focus on that (even though it airs on AMC, just like The Walking Dead, and the network might not allow it) or to pursue a movie career. Also, some leaked video from the set shows that Negan is swinging at Daryl.

And finally, Daryl doesn’t even exist in the comic books, which means every episode he appears in is a new story that diverges from the comic books, and extra effort to work him into the general narrative.

Why Daryl might live: Again, Demi Lovato. Daryl was with Rick in that birthday greeting I mentioned above, which means he was filming scenes later in season seven’s production schedule, just like Yeun.

But for as much as I love the idea of Lovato being involved in some sort of Walking Dead da Vinci code, it’s more important to note that Reedus is currently one of the show’s biggest heroes and most iconic characters. Killing him would be like Sex and the City killing off Carrie Bradshaw — while it’s fun to think about, it just wouldn't happen.

Reedus has also filmed a lot of promotional material from the set, and has been spotted on set outside of the Lovato birthday greeting. It just doesn’t track to kill him off.

If I were betting on the death, I would go with Maggie — there’s just too much evidence that Daryl/Reedus are part of the season, and I don’t think The Walking Dead would go and kill Glenn again after that midseason finale. I also wouldn’t be surprised if this is a giant misdirection, and a character (Abraham has been floating around as the victim) that hasn’t quite had the hype of these characters ends up getting the bat.

We’ll all find out soon enough when The Walking Dead’s seventh season premieres on Sunday at 9 pm.

Update: Don't read any further if you don't want to know who was killed. This is the last warning.

The Walking Dead threw a curveball. The show killed off two characters when it was expected (assumed) that they'd just kill one character. The show killed off Glenn and Abraham.

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