(WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for the latest issue of The Walking Dead comic and TV series).
Fans of The Walking Dead comics were left shocked recently when Issue 167 dropped the biggest death since Glenn was murdered by #Negan back in Issue 100. While fans hoped for some sort of fake-out or loophole after Andrea — longtime love of Rick Grimes and surrogate mother to Carl — suffered a walker bite in Issue 166, 167 dashed those hopes, depicting Andrea slowly succumbing to the virus as the residents of Alexandria and the other communities gathered at her bedside to say goodbye.
As the #TV incarnation of Andrea — who became a completely different character from her comic book counterpart — was killed off way back in Season 3, it raised the question: Who will inherit this death, hugely significant to the series narrative, once the show reaches this point?
As Rick's current lover, fan favorite Michonne is the most obvious choice to take Andrea's place. Aside from her position at Rick's side, Michonne has inherited many other moments that originally belonged to Andrea in the comic, such as her recent battle with a Heapster atop Alexandria's watchtower. Given her important position as part of Rick's family unit, Michonne's is likely the only death to have the same effect on Rick and Carl as comic Andrea's.
Things definitely don't look good for Michonne a few years from now, although there are a few points that may count in her favor. Michonne has been a fan favorite since she first appeared on the show and, after the death of Sasha, is the only African-American woman left among the show's main cast. The show may want to avoid the backlash that killing her off would cause.
2. Daryl Dixon
#DarylDixon, is not present in the comics yet remains one of The Walking Dead's few remaining wild cards. He is also one of the only other characters whose death would devastate not only Rick, but the entire network of survivors on the same level as Andrea's comic demise. Despite his gruff demeanor, Daryl has a heart of gold, and a habit of forming unlikely friendships, with at least one friend in each of the main communities. All would rally around his deathbed if the time came.
As much as Daryl could fit the bill, I can't help but think this scenario is unlikely. Daryl is clearly the show's most popular character. After the backlash over Glenn's death at the beginning of Season 7, killing Daryl may be too risky a move.
3. Carol Peletier
The woman dubbed #QueenCarol by fans is a wildcard on a level that near matches Daryl's, considering her comic counterpart was killed way back in what would have been the equivalent to Season 3 of the show. Interestingly, that was where TV Andrea met her end. There could be a sense of balance being restored if Carol were to inherit the death of a character who, by comic standards, should still be alive at this point where Carol is long dead. While Carol's death may not touch all the communities on quite the same level as others on this list, it would hurt the core group, devastate Daryl and be a huge blow to the show's fans.
However, Carol too is most likely safe. Aside from being specifically mentioned by the creators as one of the characters least likely to die anytime soon, Carol currently seems to be following the path taken by Michonne in the comics. Comic Michonne is still very much alive, so our Queen Carol most likely has a long life ahead of her.
4. Carl Grimes
Though at first glance this may seem unlikely, there are a few points that could count against Rick's son. After some speculation during last season, it now appears as though actor #ChandlerRiggs will not be going anywhere in the immediate future. But, we are talking about an event that is at least two, possibly three seasons away. By then, Riggs will have reached an age where many young people are itching to move on to new things. Killing Carl, who, while still young, has become a pillar of the community, would devastate both Rick and the wider Walking Dead family.
While the question of Rigg's potential departure may continue to shadow Carl, as one of #TheWalkingDead's most important characters, the show will try to keep him around as long as possible.
While Enid is probably the least likely candidate, she is still a possibility. Carl is much older on the show than she is at this same point in the comics. If the show chooses to go in the direction of causing a blow to Carl rather than Rick, Enid could be on the firing line.
With the close bond she formed with Glenn, and now Maggie, Enid seems to have become a TV surrogate for Sophia, who became their adopted daughter in the comics. Despite dying early on the show, Sophia is still alive in the comic storyline, now one of only three surviving original characters alongside Rick and Carl. This means Enid will probably be around for a long time to come.
None of this will happen on the show for at least two seasons, but as the time comes closer, the speculation over who will inherit Andrea's death could become as hotly debated as the question of who got Negan's bat.