Warning: This post contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead comic series!
The heavyweights of television right now are, arguably, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, drawing record viewers and ratings across the US and beyond, and inspiring dedicated fanbases online. For all the shows differences, the one thing they do have in common is a lack of willingness to pull their punches when it comes the brutality — particularly when it comes to killing off main and fan-favorite characters.
There's an adage fans of the two shows are familiar with — don't get attached to any one character. The same principle applies when looking at the source material for both Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, one a series of novels, the other an ongoing graphic novel comic book series. But whilst we wait patiently for The Winds of Winter to continue the Song of Ice and Fire Series, The Walking Dead comic books stride ever onwards.
This month brings Issue 158 of The Walking Dead from author Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard, and it features one of the most brutal deaths since Alpha made her head-pike wall back in Issue 145. It should go without saying that this post is filled with huge spoilers up to and including the most recent issue of The Walking Dead comics, so don't read any further if you don't wanna know!
Relevant to your interests:
- The Walking Dead Issue 156's Big Death Reminds Us Why Negan Is A Great Character
- The Walking Dead: Whisperer War Variant Covers May Contain Some Big Negan Plot Hints
- Melissa McBride's Carol Was Originally Very Different In The Walking Dead Comic Books
A Quick Catch-Up
A quick recap for those of you who haven't been paying attention. Issue 157 of The Walking Dead left off with Negan returning to Alexandria under a banner of friendship, having infiltrated The Whisperers and decapitated their leader, Alpha. Beta — Alpha's second in command — was understandably not too happy about this, so rallied the skin-wearers to drive a horde towards Alexandria and take their revenge.
Priest turned man-at-arms Father Gabriel took to the Water Tower outpost to keep lookout, and peering through the lens of his sniper rifle he saw the Whisperers and their massive horde of Walkers approaching. The Walking Dead Issue 158 picks up immediately where this left off, and things get messy very quickly.
The Walking Dead Issue 158
As the horde approaches, Gabriel panics. In his attempt to climb back down the ladder of the water-tower as quickly as possible, he loses his grip and slips — catching his ankle on one of the rungs near the bottom, snapping his leg and trapping himself.
His cries for help as he descends do not go unanswered. But unfortunately for Gabriel, it's not God who answers his prayers, but Beta, who tells him "I will help you" before disemboweling him as he hangs upside down.
Eugh. If that isn't bad enough, Gabriel is then left to hang and bleed out, before having his face and upper body chewed off by the passing horde. Not a nice way to play yourself out, even by The Walking Dead standards.
Gabriel wasn't exactly a fan favorite character. First introduced back in Issue 61, he was a cowardly fearful man who didn't know how to survive in the brutal new world he found himself in.
Clinging to his faith, he attempted to betray Rick and the Survivors when they arrived in Alexandria, believing their actions in dealing with the Hunters to be deplorable. But he finally faces his own fears and failings during the Walker assault on the compound — saving Eugene Porter and Nicholas by letting them into the church, and participating in the fight during "No Way Out." He later joins the Militia in Alexandria after the time-skip, a decision which would eventually lead to his death.
Despite his foggy past, it's always a little disheartening to see a character who's been around for a such a long while be killed off — especially one who has had as positive a character arc as Gabriel did. And he nearly made it 100 issues, that's one heck of an achievement in The Walking Dead. RIP Gabriel, you're with your God now.
Which of The Walking Dead deaths do you think is the most brutal? Have your say in the comments, and check out our rundown of the most shocking character deaths of the TV series below.