Who Died on The Walking Dead Season 6 Finale?

I think I know who dies on The Walking Dead season 6 finale, so let me try to explain why below.

(There will be many more images to follow my initial long winded discourse. The screen captures I use below have been adjusted to show more detail in the background. This theory was developed collaboratively with my good friend @idahojimmy on Twitter.)

SPOILERS BELOW! You have been warned!

To ensure that we are not wasting our time trying to figure out who it was that died in the season 6 finale, I want to look at a few quotes that allude to the fact that the cast and writers do know who died. We need to consider all of the facts in regards to what has been said by anyone involved with the show.

A view of Rick’s captured group. Who is it that will die?

I know that many of us already know who died in the comic version of this scene, and we should still consider this, along with the fact that the show’s creators have already remixed much of what is written in the comic. Josh McDermitt (Eugene) testifies to this,

…That’s a great testament to our writers and Scott Gimple of remixing it and keeping things fresh and the audience on their toes who think they might know what is exactly going to happen.

But wait, I thought I read somewhere that the cast did not know who died!?

Greg Nicotero did have this response when asked if the cast knew who was dying when they filmed the final scene,

“No. It was specifically written that way. The POV shot looking up at Negan in that last moment, I don’t think anyone on that knew what happened. As a matter of fact, if I’m not mistaken, I think we had wrapped all of the actors, because the shot we did with Negan, the sun was coming up and Jeffrey was about to get on a plane and fly back to New York and we didn’t have anybody there because we didn’t want even somebody on the crew or somebody there to go, ‘Oh I get it, I know what’s going to happen.’ So I think they were all gone. We built a little rig for Jeffrey [Dean Morgan] to hit so that there would be impact with the baseball bat.”

To me, the multiple uses of “I think” in his response tells me he is just saying what needs to be said to protect the secret of who dies, and he is just saying that the POV setup didn’t reveal anything while filming. His answer does not mean that the script kept the character death a secret from the cast.

As Nick Venable also pointed out on cinemablend.com,

Robert Kirkman said that there were a few hints as to the victim’s identity in the episode, while showrunner Scott Gimple said that there wasn’t really anything that people could use to figure it out. Seems like no one got together beforehand to talk about how to handle all of this with the press.

Scott Gimple also says this about season 7,

I’ve known for a while what is in 701 and presenting what occurs and to show what happened in full force. It is the beginning of the next story. The two — the showing of, it’s an incredible work of gore by Charlie Adlard in the book, how we show that on TV — I’m certain that we’ll be pushing some boundaries with it. Things are going to start off very, very, very dark because everybody knows where we’re starting, but that won’t be the whole season.

Robert Kirkman had this to say about the death, and what that means for the future of the show,

I’m excited about where it’s at. What’s happening in the show is extremely sad and extremely distressing but I think it’s going to put us into a good place for season seven. I’m excited because I get excited about these things — I’m a bit of a lunatic that way.

It is no mystery that this character death has been hyped as a major character death, as something that is “gut wrenching”. We know that Andrew Lincoln had said that when reading the script he was physically sick to his stomach and was actually late to the set to shoot the scene. Lauren Cohan said that things will be very different for the group in season seven as a result of this death.

Let’s look at some of the quotes from the cast in regards to this last scene. I think you will notice that they seem to know who dies by the way they talk about the final scene.

Norman Reedus (Daryl) said,

I knew what was happening, and what was going to happen, and who was involved, but I got to tell you, I couldn’t speak for like an hour.

Lauren Cohan (Maggie) said,

The word ‘finale’ gives me a physical reaction because it’s the hardest day on set that I’ve ever had in my life. . . . Andy talks about being late to work; I didn’t want to go to work that day. It took a really, really long time for everybody to feel OK again after the finale.

Andrew Lincoln (Rick) said,

I felt sick to my stomach when I read the script. It was the first day in the whole six years of working on The Walking Dead. . . . I was so angry and frustrated and I felt sick.

I doubt the cast members would feel like this if they had only just read the “eeny mini miny moe” and knew nothing else of the ending!

Based on the above quotes, I think it is safe to say that the death is not an unknown that is still to be decided, and I contend that it can be figured out if we look closer at the last scene.

First let us rule a few characters out based on some simple logic considering the weight of the above quotes.

If Aaron dies, would you care? Would his death fit with the definitions of “extremely sad and extremely distressing”? Would it make cast members feel sick, silent, and angry after reading the script? I say no.

How about Rosita? I say no. Sasha? Again, no. These three are not dead as a result of Lucille.

Let us move on, what about Eugene? Now, he did give his bullet recipe to Rick, and he bear hugged Abraham, but to me that is way too obvious of a “clue” that he is the one to die. Also, Negan looks to his left and right when addressing the group right before he swings Lucille. If it was anyone on the ends of the kill line, Negan would be looking at a tree or a car when looking left and right, so Eugene and Glenn are ruled out! Yes, I said Glenn! Sorry comicbook diehards! This is going to be another comic book “remix”!

Negan looking to his left.
Negan looking to his right.

Notice in the two images below how the angles of Eugene and Glenn are different from the rest of the group. Since the group is almost in a semi-circle, this plays a role in regards to what is in the background and how the lighting will bounce off of Negan when swinging Lucille.

Notice Eugene's face, and his angle to the rest of the group. Notice how bright the background is.
Notice Glenn’s face, and his angle to the rest of the group. Notice how bright the background is as well. Glenn has a really nice view of whoever is about to get whacked…

So who is left that still fits the definition of a major death? We now have Daryl, Michonne, Abraham, Maggie, Rick & Carl left at the table.

Let us consider Rick, yes this would be a major shock, and it would fit the bill as far as making the cast physically sick and distressed. Look at what Robert Kirkman said when asked if Rick was safe,

Absolutely not. Although when I look in Andrew Lincoln’s piercing blue eyes, I feel safe.

He also said,

No character is too popular to die.

Well, crap. But don’t worry, Rick leaving the show would be a show killer, at least the ratings would drop considerably, much like when Steve Carell left The Office; they tried but it just wasn’t the same.

So I say Rick is safe.

What about Carl? Well, again, Negan motions towards Carl when he mentions cutting out “the boy’s other eye”.

Negan is leaning and presumably motioning with the bat in his right hand towards Carl.

If Negan was directly in front of Carl, who is he motioning towards? Carl is safe.

So now we only have Daryl, Michonne, Abraham, & Maggie.

Before I move onto these last few characters, and analyze the backgrounds in these frames in more depth, I want to bring up the art of continuity and what that is in regards to television and film.

From Wikipedia,

A script supervisor (also called continuity supervisor) is a member of a film crew and oversees the continuity of the motion picture including wardrobe, props, set dressing, hair, makeup and the actions of the actors during a scene. The notes recorded by the script supervisor during the shooting of a scene are used to help the editor cut the scene.
In the most basic description, the script supervisor is the editor’s and writer’s representative on set, as well as being the right hand aide to the director and the director of photography. It is the script supervisor’s job to make sure that at the end of the day the film can be cut together. In that sense, they back up every department, monitor the script during shooting and make sure that errors in continuity do not occur that would prevent the film from being able to be compiled smoothly in the editing room.

By going through the final scene frame by frame, and by tweaking the contrast and brightness, I was able to spot specific trees in the background that point to who may die. These trees are fixed, as the background would not be “jumping around” from frame to frame. This is an area we can focus on in order to narrow down who the target may be.

There are three trees that we need to track in the scene. Two bigger trees that are side by side, and one smaller tree that is a little further away to the right. I will mark each tree in each frame, with red, green and blue arrows. Notice the placement of the three trees, the two on the left slightly lean inward towards each other as they go upwards (remember this). Also notice where they are in relation to the RV

Notice the placement of the three trees, the two on the left slightly lean inward towards each other. Also notice where they are in relation to the RV

Also keep in mind how perspective works, like when the camera is from behind looking left, looking right, and looking straight on. This will make the three trees appear to shift, but when accounting for this, you can clearly see who is about to get whacked.

Notice in the image below that the “red” tree has the smaller branches on it going upward at an angle. Remember this. The “blue” tree can barely be seen on the right of the frame. Keep in mind that the camera is not directly behind Abraham, but on the side looking left. If the camera was to shift directly behind Abraham, this would move the three trees behind Negan, just over his right shoulder.

As Negan walks past Abraham we see some more trees above Rick in the image below. Take note of how they look. Again if Negan was directly in front of Abraham, and the camera was directly behind, these trees we see above Rick’s head would be above and behind Negan’s left shoulder.

Negan turns toward Glenn in the frame below, notice the bright background behind Negan from the vehicle headlights.

Looking the other direction, toward Carl, notice the background is also very bright from another set of headlights!

As Negan moves more central, again we will notice our three trees come back into view, and they shift behind Negan as the camera shifts position. Again, notice on the “red” tree the same smaller branches coming off of the tree at an upward angle like in the frame above with Abraham.

From the image directly above, and the one below, notice the shift in the three trees due to the movement of the camera. Negan is almost directly in front of Rick, and these three trees have shifted shoulders. They are now over and behind Negan’s right shoulder.

Shifted further in the image below. Also notice how the “blue” tree angles up and towards the center of the frame.

The lighting on Negan is starting to become more balanced on each side due to him being more central to the group.

In the next image, the camera starts to point downwards so we can see the RV, and Negan starts the game of “eeny meeny miny moe”. He is now directly in front of Rick and Maggie, and he points the bat with a slight angle towards Rick.

Notice that the cutaway image shows that this is the same “blue” tree behind Negan. Lighting is still balanced on his left and right. Negan is dead center here.

As Negan goes past each character with “eeny meeny miny moe” I noticed that the editing is not exact, and that the audio and “bat pointing” diverge. This was clearly an artistic choice to help hide who it was that was about to get whacked. This is also why I decided to focus on the consistent background of trees when possible.

An interesting note is that while doing “eeny meeny miny moe” the last word Negan says before he says “it” was the word “are” to Maggie, and then Negan goes around silently pointing a few more times before landing on the person with the words “it”.

This brings us to the final “it” frames, right before the swing. Negan is now centered in front of someone, the camera is now pointed upwards again, with no RV in view, and there we find our trees again…

I would argue that the tree in the right corner is the same, just from a different camera angle.

In the image below, all three trees are now in view below as they are directly behind Negan, just over his right shoulder. Notice the how the “red” and “green” trees angle towards each other like in the frames above. For me, these are 100% the same three trees. You can even see (barely) that the “red” tree has the smaller branches on it going upward at an angle.

All three trees are now in view below as they are now directly behind Negan.

Same for the image below.

Now, if the candidate for death by Lucille is still not obvious, then let me just come right out and say it is either Abraham or Maggie. Rick, Maggie and Abraham are dead center of the RV, and these three trees are towards the back part of the RV, which match up perfectly with Negan if he were standing dead center of the group. We already ruled out Rick due to that being a show killer, so we are left with the other two; Maggie or Abraham. This brings us back around to the quotes at the top, about how devastating this death is, about how hard it was on the cast, etc.

Remember the scene where Maggie tells Rick that she believes in him, and he reminisces about their past and tells her that she will be alright? We have seen this type of moment before major deaths in the past.

Saying goodbye?

Based on all that has been presented, considering all the facts, angles and plot, and the past history of the show, my money is on Maggie being the one who dies at the hand of Negan and Lucille.

Many people want the comic book death of Glenn, but I would not put it past the writers and Kirkman to flip it around and kill Maggie. Glenn has already “died” this season, and to kill him again would be cheap and sloppy writing. I would argue that the death of Maggie would create the most significant change in the show’s dynamic as she is beloved by all the other characters. Her death would also serve to splinter the group and as a result it would create many more plot lines. For example, I could easily see Glenn blaming Rick at some level for her death, and ultimately he would be the one that wants Negan dead the most. We also have the fact that Maggie ran Hilltop as a result of Glenn dying in the comic, but now that Carol is still around, maybe she will fill that role, taking half of Rick’s group with her? Interesting to think about.

Any other death would either illicit a “meh” response from viewers, or it would be a show killer; as killing Daryl or Rick would “Lucille” the ratings.

All that said, while it is sad and dark and sickening to think that a pregnant Maggie could be the one to go, that is exacty what we have heard described as feelings from the cast and crew about this scene! It makes sense story-wise, and it makes sense from a continuity and lighting perspective.

Maggie is the new Glenn.