Post Mortem: Walking Dead Boss Defends Last Night's Big [Spoiler], Teases Shocking Finale

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 12WARNING: If you have yet to watch The Walking Dead‘s next-to-last Season 2 episode tonight, run don’t walk to the nearest exit. We’re serious, folks. The following Q&A with showrunner Robert Kirkman contains massive spoilers. Trust us on this one. Everyone else, you may proceed…

This Just In: The Walking Dead is not fooling around anymore. One week after viewers watched in horror as Dale literally had his guts ripped out, AMC’s mega-hit went a step further in its penultimate Season 2 episode and whacked another, far more pivotal character: Shane!

Sure, the warning signs were there — on screen and off. For starters, Shane had become increasingly unhinged as Season 2 wore on, making Sunday’s deadly confrontation with frenemy Rick all the more inevitable. Also, as fans of the Walking Dead comic know full well, the TV character actually survived longer than his literary counterpart. Oh, and as you may’ve heard, Shane’s portrayer, Jon Bernthal, recently landed a starring role in former Dead exec producer Frank Darabont’s TNT pilot L.A. Noir.

Yet, the death of Shane — who, for all intents and purposes, was the show’s co-lead — nonetheless packed a punch, mostly because it sends a loud and clear message that absolutely no one (save for Rick) is safe. And if the episode itself didn’t adequately relay that, our post mortem with Robert Kirkman should. Read on as Dead‘s main creative force reveals why Shane had to die, how Bernthal reacted (read: he wasn’t pleased), whether Jenner’s secret message to Rick has already been revealed, and when the next major death will come (hint: very soon).

TVLINE | How long did you know that you were going to kill Shane off this early on in the series?
Before the first episode of Season 1 was shot. [Laughs] Frank always talked about how, if the first season had been 13 episodes, we would’ve went ahead and told the entire Shane story and killed him off at the end of the season, which was pretty much what we did in the comics. But because that was a six-episode season instead of a normal-sized season, we decided to hold it for Season 2.

TVLINE | Did you ever consider not following the comics and letting him survive – if not through the entire run of the series then maybe just another season or two? The Rick-Shane dynamic was such a major part of the show.
There was a lot of back-and-forth when we were mapping out the second season. I’ll admit even I — who killed him in the comic — was saying there were a lot of interesting things that could come out of keeping him in the show. We had a lot of fun [writing for the character] in the second season because there were a lot of things that changed from the comic. Having him exist on Hershel’s Farm brought out new stories and made us do some cool new things that were different from the comic. And I’m always for that kind of stuff because I like to keep things interesting. But at the end of the day, what we kept coming back to is that The Walking Dead is much more about Rick and his journey than it is about Shane and his journey. And keeping Shane around was, in a sense, stealing from Rick. It was time to let Rick emerge and see how Shane’s death affected him and how it informed his decisions. And I think that when people see the last episode of this season — and Season 3 — and where Rick goes because of this, they’ll see that this is all part of the larger plan. [His death] is definitely an important moment. And it really sucked to lose Jon Bernthal, but it’s going to make the show that much better and that much more deadly. Having lost Dale and Shane, now you really get the sense that any of these characters could go at any moment. And we’re definitely going to be continuing that in Season 3. This finally tells people, “This is what The Walking Dead is. This is what you can expect.”

Ask Ausiello: Spoilers on Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Grey’s Anatomy, Gossip Girl and More!

TVLINE | How far in advance did Jon know that this was going to be his final episode?
He always knew he was going to die, but there was a question of exactly which episode it was going to be. That moved around quite a bit. It wasn’t until we were actually breaking the last half of Season 2 that we nailed it down to a specific episode.

TVLINE | How did he react?
Honestly, he was bummed. The actors have become a family, and they really love working together. They’re kind of isolated in Georgia where they shoot; they spend a lot of time together when they’re not filming. But every actor knows that on this show… I think Sarah Wayne Callies has been quoted as saying that she knows it’s not a matter of if she’s going to die but when; that’s what the show is. But it’s still very sad when actors have their last day on set. Jon was definitely upset. But he understood. He knew why we were doing it and what was going on. He was accepting of it.

TVLINE | Was he satisfied creatively with Shane’s final arc?
Absolutely. All of the actors are really great collaborators and have good ideas, and when Jon read the death scene he definitely had some questions and some suggestions. And he worked a lot with [the episode's writers] Glen Mazzara and Evan Reilly to try and beef it up. He had some little notes and they came to an understanding and really convinced Jon that this is what the scene needs to be. There was a lot of back-and-forth, and in the end Jon really loved the scene.

TVLINE | What was your reaction when news leaked that Jon had been cast in L.A. Noir?
It was an unfortunate mishap [that resulted from AMC] moving the last half of the season until February instead of just running it straight through. If we had aired it all in succession and ended in December it wouldn’t have been a problem. But by holding back the season, [the news] did kind of spoil things. It was a bummer that it spoiled the show to a certain extent, but I was happy for Jon. I think it’s exciting for him to be working for Frank again and I’m really looking forward to seeing that show. And it’s cool to know that Jon is constantly working. The tough thing for me is that when I kill a character in a comic book I am making the artist, Charlie Adlard, draw a different arrangement of lines from now on. Killing a character doesn’t really affect anybody but the readers. But when you kill a character on a TV show you are, in a sense, firing an actor. And the thing that upsets me about that is it’s always about the story; it’s never about the actor’s performance. And I’m a blue-collar guy, so if you fire somebody you need to have a reason. So it’s really upsetting to me every time we have to kill a character. So to know that Jon has another job makes me happy. Because I feel guilty about the whole firing thing.

Walking Dead Spoiler Alert: Meet Season 3’s Big Baddie

TVLINE | Shane turning into a zombie in the end pretty much confirms that everyone’s already infected. Can you confirm that that’s what Jenner whispered in Rick’s ear?
[Hesitates] Well, I can’t confirm that. But what I can say is that Shane turning after being stabbed definitely does inform Rick revealing what Jenner whispered, in the next episode.

TVLINE | So we’ll finally find out what he whispered in next week’s finale?
Yes.

TVLINE | Does Rick debate sharing this newfound intel with the others, or does the approaching zombie stampede delay that?
Yeah, there’s sh-t ton of zombies on the way to the farm, so he’s not going to have a lot of time for that.

TVLINE | This does raise the question about the dead bodies in the season-opening traffic jam — why hadn’t they all been turned?
I think if you go back and watch that [sequence you'll see] we were very careful to have them be in cars that were in accidents, so the brain would’ve had trauma. Or they had some kind of wounds somewhere on their heads to show that their brains had been killed, like somebody came across and killed them. We knew that we were building to this throughout the entire season.

TVLINE | I know you can’t name names, but have you quietly made any decisions to spare someone’s life on the show who died in the comics?
Dale’s death in the comic book came way later than it did in the TV show. And Shane’s death in the comic book came way sooner than it did in the TV show. So that’s pretty much the model that we’re going to be following throughout the life of the series. Some characters will die before they reached the point that they reached in the comic book series, and some people will outlast their comic-book counterpart. And that’s going to be done to keep things interesting [and] because it’s not just me writing the television show. There are five or six other people that have good ideas that are contributing to the show, and it would be wrong to go, “That’s a good idea but that’s not how we did it in the comics.” There will definitely be differences. You can’t use the comic book to gauge when or how someone is going to die.

TVLINE | Will there be another major death next week?
I can say that the cast that enters the final episode this season does not leave the final episode intact. And there are a lot of surprises still yet to come.

TVLINE | Will the finale end on a cliffhanger, as in mid-scene? Or will it be more similar to the Season 1 finale, which ended in a more resolute place?
It’s not quite a true cliffhanger, but it’s much closer to a cliffhanger than what we had last season.

TVLINE | And lastly, will T-Dog be allowed to speak again?
[Laughs] T-Dog definitely has a lot of cool moments in the finale and a lot of lines. I apologize for that. It’s one of those things where certain characters have to recede into the background to give room to the other characters because we have such a large cast. But every character will get their moment to shine — T-Dog included.

What did you think of the episode and, specifically, Shane’s death? Deposit your snappy judgments in the comments, and then check out Ask Ausiello Tuesday for even more scoop on next Sunday’s Dead finale (including who most definitely won’t be in it).

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513 Comments
  1. Lynette Smith says:

    I know Shane had to die. Shane was getting more unstable and evil, but he was such a fierce protector. Sometimes with Shane’s character, I would think that he was right, then I would remember what he did to Otis. Shane was flawed, just like real people. Love the show.

  2. GonzoDeluxe says:

    I’m not familiar with the comic and wasn’t aware of Jon Berenthal’s new show, so Shane’s death tonight was a total shocker. If there were no comic that predetermined some of the outcomes on the show, I would have said tonight’s move to kill Shane off was pretty ballsy. He is a huge character on the show. Dale and Shane were, to some degree, the angel and devil that sat on Rick’s shoulders – now they’re both gone. With Hershel ceding authority to Rick, he’s really on his own now.

    I’m sad that Berenthal is off the show. He’s an amazing presence and embodied Shane with a savage magnetism that you just commanded your rapt attention. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

    My heart was in my throat starting with the moment Shane and Rick split off in the woods. Watching the mob of walkers coming into the field was no relief. Nice twist at the end, though, with Carl stepping up.

    Love the show!

  3. alyssa says:

    im SO glad shain got killed (twice) lol!

  4. Chelita says:

    Wow!! Absolutely love this show, it’s going to be torture waiting for season 3. Don’t want it to end. I live for Sunday night and the Walking Dead!

  5. jojo says:

    Daryl hope he dont die i am loving me some daryl .

    • lorick2 says:

      Don’t say that you love a character or that you don’t want then killed off the show because the more a character is liked the less chance they have of surviving being written off. They asked how we felt about Dale and if we would like him written back in and they killed him off anyway and 55% was in favor Of dale still being on the show. Dale is definately dead. So if you like a character, keep it to yourself. The popular characters are the first ones to go. The writers want you to be shocked. They want you to react. If they kill off characters that hardly say a word and you haven’t invested any feelings in, the writers would not get the reactions that they are looking for. So, do not tell everyone you love Daryl, he will be next!!!!

  6. marcell smith says:

    Just wanted to tell Laurin I also loved ger on Supernatural

  7. Lash558 says:

    With no knowledge of the comics, just what I’ve gleaned from watching the show religiously, I think that Carl might be one of those killed off. Sure he’s just a kid, but so was Sophie. This would highlight the unfairness of their situation. Plus, it would give Rick and Lori that bitter edge they need to survive.

    Go ahead, color me sick.

  8. Adam says:

    I don’t understand how so many people are questioning the disease. It’s has been very clear that (theroretically) everyone in the world has this disease in their blood, and it is only activated after the person dies. If it is not airborn (which I’m sure it is), pretty much all the cast members would have it anyway because they clearly would have gotten Walker blood in their mouth, eyes, or an open wound due to the blood spatter.

  9. Adam says:

    I don’t understand how so many people are questioning the disease. It’s has been very clear that (theroretically) everyone in the world has this disease in their blood, and it is only activated after the person dies. If it is not airborn (which I’m sure it is), pretty much all the cast members would have it anyway because they clearly would have gotten Walker blood in their mouth, eyes, or an open wound due to the blood spatter.

  10. Kathy says:

    Well after reading all this i cant wait to see how the season ends.. It must definately be airborne now .. I dont want darryll and glen to die : )

  11. J. De Leon says:

    That scene was awesome!

  12. Paulette McNeal says:

    I love this series. It answers the questions that the normal zombie movie leaves out. It has elements of the other movies but goes more into elaboration of the state of survival. Bravo AMC!

  13. Tyler Eversole says:

    Love the show ,my comment is the zombie flashes Ricks or Shane,cutting there hand before they kill zombies a dum thing,he might have to cut his hand off

  14. natasha says:

    Please keep Daryl.like him the most.it was time for shane to go.getting on my nerves as well.

  15. Sean says:

    Who is Jenner in the report above? I don’t remember anyone whispering anything in Rick’s ear. If someone could please explain that and how it relates to Shanr turning into a zombie that’d be great. Thanks!!

    • Mark T says:

      Jenner is the last guy at the CDC who whispered something in Rick’s ear before the place blew at the end of Season I finale.

  16. ANANA says:

    I think they all have it in their blood and when they die they are going to become a zombie no matter what. & thats what jenner told him.

    And Daryl is also my favorite character also. I LOVE HIM!

  17. Richard from NO says:

    Once again, Carl is out on his own? And just so happens to come upon Rick? Come on! I expected better than this!BTW how is it that Carl is such a good shot????? Otherwise, Love the show!

  18. Mark T says:

    Damn this show DOES mean business. I can’t sleep now and will be up all night trying to figure out who’s going to buy it in the finale.BTW, was it coincidence that Kenny Powers best friend who died in Eastbound and Down was also named Shane?

  19. Dan says:

    I’m not sure if I’ll miss Shane or if I’ll just miss how well he wore those ratty old cargo pants because…damn.

    • Ruby says:

      So glad I’m not the only one who noticed that. Was basically in the fetal position through most of the eps because he looked so good.

  20. jk says:

    I predict that ricks wife will die as well as Hershel..just a hunch I really dont know..I cant see Hershel surviving outside of his ranch. Whatever happens its gonna b one hell of a finale..Can’t wait!!!

  21. Shane's Widow says:

    At this rate, they’ll all be dead by the end of Season 3. At least the people who complain of no zombies will be happy.

  22. kara says:

    OMG i hope u keep darly and rick plus glen gotta love them pizza delivery guys;)

  23. Erikah says:

    Obviously most of you are not full zombie fanatics. EVERYTHING THAT DIES natural causes or not needs to be shot in the head. Rick stabbed him, no brain trauma. When you die, the “BACTERIA? ” reanimates dead cells,and in return u get zombies! I think some of you need to hit the nearest movie store and rent out all the zombie movies in stock and pay a little bit more attention.

    • Hols says:

      No. Most modern zombie movies require that you be bitten, or otherwise absorb bodily fluids from a zombie, in order to turn into a zombie yourself — think of the most recent popular zombie movies, like 28 Days Later, and you will see what I mean. The Walking Dead is among the outliers here, as the virus is apparently airborne and affects the entire populace, regardless of whether a person has come into contact with blood, spit, etc. from a person already zombie-fied.

      TWD may not be the first show or movie to go with this type of virus, but there’s no need to be patronizing to people who are surprised by it, simply because their experience with zombie movies is from more modern films that utilized the bite and turn method.

  24. WANDA SMITH says:

    YEA YEA SHANE IS DEAD YEA YEA SHANE IS DEAD. SORRY SHANE BUT YOU WERE SO MEAN AND SELFISH

    • Lana says:

      If the whole show was filled with good guys, it would be boring. Shane really added to the show and I enjoyed his character.. Go watch the Disney channel if you want everyone to be squeaky-clean.

      • Brandon says:

        Shane’s character was getting boring. The “I’m angry, everyone hates me, Rick is stupid” drama was getting very old, very fast. It has nothing to do with wanting “good guys”, it’s about not wanting predictable characters dragging on the same drama every episode.

  25. daniel says:

    Good way to kill shane. I think that the motor home has got running again so they can escape the walkers. Wondering will they will end up next?

  26. Dez Havoc says:

    He must loose the hand. In the comics the cut off hand and finishing off shaves corpse are what drive him to be the cautious suspicious man he is today in the comics and we have to hope the show gets there if only to see the spin universe that could have been. He has to loose the hand to become what he becomes.

  27. Patty says:

    I will miss Shane !!!!!!

  28. Rhonda says:

    Loved the episode and Shane’s death scene. I’m glad he’s gone now because he was getting way too out of control. Daryl is my favorite character and I hope they keep him around for a long time. I think he needs to step into Shane’s place as second in charge behind Rick.

  29. Nikki says:

    The actor who plays Shane must feel like such an idiot. AMC fired Frank Darabont. The actor threw a little hissy fit and demanded to be killed off. Then it turns out AMC was right, Frank Darabont was the problem, the show gets amazing after he leaves, then Shane begs to stay on the show. I am glad they stuck to their guns and got rid of him. Now he has to go be on Darabonts new show which is certain to suck.

    • Duane says:

      Bernthal was not the one who threw the hissy fit. That was Jeffrey DeMunn (Dale) and I for one will be following Bernthal’s future endeavors as well as DeMunn. Both are fine actors. Probably the best on the show. Killing them off was BS!

    • Ruby says:

      Bernthal wasn’t the one who threw the fit. Get your facts straight before you slander someone.

    • Emily says:

      Duane is right, it was Jeffrey DeMunn who asked to leave, not Jon Bernthal. But jeez, Nikki… what did these people ever do to you?

    • Mooshki says:

      Are you kidding? The show has not been nearly as good as it was under Darabont. I just hope Season 3 doesn’t suck like most of Season 2 did.

  30. Erikah says:

    Obviously most of you are not full zombie fanatics. EVERYTHING THAT DIES natural causes or not needs to be shot in the head. Rick stabbed him, no brain trauma. When you die, the “BACTERIA? ” reanimates dead cells,and in return u get zombies! I think some of you need to hit the nearest movie store and rent out all the zombie movies in stock and pay a little bit more attention.

    • Emily says:

      You’re right. I’m not a zombie fanatic. I watch this show for the human aspect. My bad for not being the kind of fan that matters. Kirkman himself is playing it off as a big mythology reveal (even though it’s in the comics already). The entire show up to this point has been about not getting scratched or bitten, so that you assume this is how “reanimation bacteria” are transmitted. Now, this may or may not be true. Does everyone have it? Why? Is it something else entirely? People are just theorizing. Chill out.

      • Brandon says:

        You really need to theorize? Yes, everyone has it. We’ve been told that. No theory needed.

        • Emily says:

          Yeah, I need to theorize. I believe that everyone has it and I want to know why. But other people think there’s a chance that everyone doesn’t; it isn’t like it’s been explicitly stated in the show. Sure, there are comments from viewers who obviously don’t get it, but that isn’t everyone. If you want to simplify it down, fine. Don’t tell me what to do.

  31. Sophie says:

    Rick and Carl cannot lead all those zombies back to the farm…right? If they do, they will be completely overrun. I hope that if anyone has to go, it will be Andrea…

  32. matt says:

    If you watch closely, you can see Carl watching from the house with binoculars when Shane’s “death scene” starts. He comes out because he saw Shane point his gun at Rick.

  33. angie says:

    Anyone notice that the walkers are getting faster n stronger ?

  34. Josh says:

    Robert kirkman has already said he regretted doing that in the comics and won’t do it in the show

  35. taylor says:

    WHY DID RICK HAVE TO KILL SHANE I’M SO MAD

  36. Trevor says:

    That’s what I was asking my parents!

  37. nichole says:

    I noticed that shane was breathing like a walker the whole ep. And he he stabed him with a nife. The same nife they killed the walkers with out by the school buses. And didn’t daryl take the knife the randles leg agen the same knife they used to kill walkers. And if its are born and every one is infected then the unborn baby after its born will be immuned and be the cure the the walking dead virse. ???!!!

  38. Joe Graham says:

    This show is incredible so many surprises can’t wait for what’s to be seen next week in the finale!

  39. Erikah says:

    And that was for all the people the couldnt understand why Shane came back.

  40. Gypsy Rose says:

    A total shock for me! Shane was definately my favorite character, I mean by far my favorite. Really disappointed but it keeps you on the edge of your seat! Gotta love it!!

  41. cindy says:

    wow!!did not see that coming but I also was not a fan until this season. I went back and watched all of season one to catch up. I think the virus is airborne. Remember the two that Rick and Shane found at the school.. No scratches or bites, just dead. Then if you paid attention, Shane had one of those freakish fast brain moments just before he took Randall out in the woods. Similar to Jim. Just my observations. Can’t wait for next week and gonna try to avoid any spoilers.

  42. @dirtyvicar says:

    I’m disappointed that Rick killed Shane instead of Carl, like in the graphic novel. It’s such an important character moment for him. Move over “Han shot first” and make room for “Carl shot first.”

  43. Cassie says:

    I know these shows all need drama to make them interesting but Shane brought TOO MUCH drama to the table. He was crazy! I definitely can’t wait till next week. I’m with everyone else that says Daryl is hot. And he may be a redneck with a bow but he knows how to use it!

    • Ruby says:

      If you thought Shane was too much drama, you might as well quit watching now. Because what’s coming up is going to make Shane look like an angel. If they don’t wuss out on TV, that is.

  44. Diana says:

    I did not read the comic book ,, but i am loving the show ,, i new shane would have to die , i hated when dale had to,,,Me and my son and husband watch it every week together always on the egde of our seats ,, and saying OMG ,,, keep it up guys cant wait untill next week

  45. A. Em says:

    Please don’t kill Daryl. We love Daryl.

  46. Cam says:

    how did shayne and the other guy turn into walkers if they weren’t bit?

    • Brandon says:

      It’s definitely not because everyone is a carrier of the disease. No, that would make sense. It’s actually the tiny little Zombie Gremlins that sneak in at night and bite people on the bottoms of their feet. That’s it.

  47. Ruby says:

    I just can’t imagine how they’re going to keep it interesting now, because the rest of the characters are SO BORING. I understand why they killed Shane, but he was such a great character and he’s going to be missed more than people expect, I think.

  48. Kayla says:

    I got kinda upset when they killed of shane because to me he was the fireball of the show. A ticking time bomb, Always causing drama which i liked. But he had to go in a sense and they did a great job with it.

  49. dan says:

    Negative. Randall came back without any bus knife nonsense just from a broken neck. They’re all infected. The virus must be laying dormant until after death. Either that or it is the whole hell is full idea

  50. Jade says:

    Its been my question for a while now…he is the one that not has to be there and figures everything out himself!!!

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