Walking Dead cast + crew: Why that shocking death had to happen

The body count has been pretty low the past few episodes, but The Walking Dead made up for that in spades this week by axing a true fan favorite. So why did that shocking death have to happen?

Spoilers ahead!

After starting out the series as a selfish racist trapped on a roof, Merle’s (Michael Rooker) journey came to an end with a truly selfless act in Sunday’s episode, “This Sorrowful Life.” For Merle, that meant going kickass rogue sniper and taking out nearly a dozen of the Governor’s militia. He nearly got the Governor, too, if not for that well-placed extra getting in the way.

The cast and crew have opened up in a revealing new interview about the decision to take out Merle right before the war truly begins. For creator Robert Kirkman, the death was the only real ending for someone so reckless—as Merle at least gave his life trying to protect the only thing he cares about, his brother Daryl.

Check out the interviews below, which recap and explain much of the episode: Were you shocked to see Merle die (and reanimate as a flesh-eating zombie)? 

(Via AMC)