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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511 Comments
  1. 2 Cents says:

    Beware of Lori!!! She is the true evil genius .A master (man)ipulator. Great writing!

  2. timbles says:

    I’m surprised by the number of people who say they would prefer to be with Shane than Rick in the event of a Zombie apocalypse. Rick went back to rescue his companions & others several times (including Shane) Shane already proved he’d shoot them in the knee so he could get away.
    Would have been nice to see Shane chomped on by zombie Randall though, rather than knifed by Rick, but then we wouldn’t get to see the obligatory Captain-Kirk-like angst moment from Rick.

  3. Cynthia says:

    I love that the TV show is finally going where the comics went. No one was safe and neither should they be here.

  4. cmac says:

    because its a bit of a spoilEr from the comic. that is something that annoys me about talking dead. they act like they never read the books when you can tell they havee

  5. Debbie says:

    I am a little curious as to why the zombies heard the gunshot when Carl killed zombie Shane, but they didn’t hear it when Daryl shot Dale.

    • The Squatch says:

      I was thinking that maybe they did hear it and that is why they were so close to the farm. Each shot drew them in a bit closer, but after a while with no noise they would stop and start milling about aimlessly again, until they heard something else to get their attention.

      My question is, how did the group not know that there were that many zombies that close to the farm? They would have to be completely stupid to not check the area nearby every once in a while.

  6. John says:

    Or when shane fired the gun when he got stabbed by Rick

  7. Steve in Harrisburg, PA says:

    There is only one zombie movie I know of that has ever addressed the “Energy Problem” as I call it. That was “28 Days Later”. They started dying from lack of food.

    Zombies are living beings that require energy in the form of food to survive. Our “Walking Dead” zombies are very dumb…they are only smart enough to attack cows and stupid people.

    In short order, most of the zombies would be dead from lack of energy because they are simply too dumb to hunt and gather.

  8. katie says:

    Can somebody help me out here? A couple people have said that if you watch the scene, you can vaguely see Carl watching the whole thing go down with his binoculars from the house. Sooooo, where is that part? I re-watched that scene on YouTube and didn’t really notice that.

    Also, how is there THAT many walkers right there on the cusp of finding the farmhouse? That gunshot just put those a-holes over the edge? NOW they know there’s meat around? I find it crazy that there’s so friggin’ many of them! I get that that wasn’t the part of the woods that Shane and Rick just came from but DAAAANNNNNNGGG that’s more than a few!

    I’m also nervous about Glenn and Daryl still being out there, oblivous to the fact that Shane’s dead and there’s a bunch of walkers coming after their friends. I really don;t want those guys to be ambushed. If they have to kill someone, I could deal with Carol going. She’s kinda fragile and useless. Herschel probably won’t make it, and I could stand Andrea’s retarded ass gone (I hear she was much more useful in the comics).

  9. debo11 says:

    Don’t worry everyone..I read a spoiler for the finale. They explain how the massive group of walkers get to the farm..obviously they heard the gunshot which was the finally thing that attracted them to where carl and rick are right after shanes murder.

  10. Chris says:

    I think the concept from “Dawn of the Dead” is being used in the show. “Hell was full and had closed its door and so has heaven” which was used the Spawn comics and Ghostbusters spoke of it in its first movie. I think this is a scarier idea because there is no hope. What do you guys think is causing zombification (new word) with zombie bites

  11. Shonnett says:

    I thought the ending was a great surprise (It was about time)! Walking dead was great as always, when is the movie coming out?
    I think they should have the cast move to another state and find others, Or bring in another group of survivors. I think shane wanted to die becuase he was so in love with rick’s wife and he couldn’t stand seeing her with rick.

  12. toluca11 says:

    I have to say that Shane was a loose cannon and dangerous which would make us dislike him but when he came back as a walker I actually felt bad cuz it was like he’s saying ‘Hey it’s not fair I’m now one of them’. he had to lose his life to see who he really was.

  13. DLB says:

    Loved this episode, Shane need to go, but am wondering if Andrea will She is such dead weight. But if Daryl goes, I go, love that man. If he becomes a zombie I’ll be rooting for the zombies!

  14. Jazzychloe says:

    If the virus comes out when your dead so why didn’t Rick turn into one in the hospital because shane clearly saw him die right?

  15. Debbie says:

    @debo11 Thanks for that info. I was wondering if perhaps in putting Dale down, the zombies heard it and started for the farm… then Carl’s (and Shanes) gunshots was the bullseye to where they were. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the zombie group is the same group that Randall told them was 5 miles off the highway???

  16. Myra says:

    Although it’s sad to see Shane go it was a great episode. I can understand why Rick had to kill him, it was a matter of kill or be killed. It really left me on the edge of my seat and in anticipation for the next episode.

  17. Barrie says:

    It does suck Shane died, but I guess that’s where the story was going, He never even made it to the farm in the comics. There’s been a lead up to everyone being infected, they made a reference to that when they found the Security/ Police dead where they were going to drop Randal off the first time, Shane or Rick pointed out they had no bites and assumed they were scratched. This also might explain why all of North America got run over,, maybe people turned without dying first. And Jenner,, I always assumed he whispered ” I slept with your too ” JK, but I guess we’ll find out.

  18. Barrie says:

    It does suck Shane died, but I guess that’s where the story was going, He never even made it to the farm in the comics. There’s been a lead up to everyone being infected, they made a reference to that when they found the Security/ Police dead where they were going to drop Randal off the first time, Shane or Rick pointed out they had no bites and assumed they were scratched. This also might explain why all of North America got run over,, maybe people turned without dying first. And Jenner,, I always assumed he whispered ” I slept with wife your too ” JK, but I guess we’ll find out.

  19. chelsea says:

    When I saw previews for this episode I kinda figured that Randal getting out had to do with Shane. I didn’t have to read spoilers to figure out most of the episode. It sucks that they killed off Shane. Sure he was goin crazy and all but if Lori would have just let it be I’m pretty sure Shane wouldn’t have went that crazy. And Rick having to kill his best friend is pretty sad. I would have to say Shane and Daryl are my favorite characters. I’ve read some of the comics and I’m so glad that the show isn’t like them. The show is much better than the comics but that’s just my opinion. I can’t wait till next week.

  20. Helen says:

    NEED MORE ZOMBIES.

  21. Stephnp says:

    How did they turn into zombies if they weren’t bit?

  22. Rick says:

    One questions that is not addressed is the hoses from the exhaust pipes into the police cars at the Mert Count Yard, (Episode 11) which may have killed the two security guards. Why did they put those in the scene?

  23. Filmcritic65 says:

    Wow – what a great episode. Shane needed to go; it seemed to me that he was heading down a path that he could not come back from. The evil in his eyes just couldn’t be ignored anymore; Rick knew exactly what he did with Randall, no questions asked. I haven’t read or seen the comic book series so while it wasn’t surprising to see Shane die; I didn’t know that Carl was the one who killed him in the comics. When Carl raised the gun towards Rick I thought he was going to shoot Rick at first and well he may have had Zombie-Shane not gotten up.

    Also, what was Laurie trying to do when she approached Shane about their relationship; and that she didn’t know who the father of her baby is? I think she was covering all basis for herself; meaning if Shane “lived” she would be protected and cared for by him or as it turns out she is now being protected by Rick. A few episodes ago when she planted the seed in Rick’s head that Shane had to go was all leading towards this final conclusion. Besides I think she is a master manipulator and she will need to go at some point. What do you all think about her?

  24. Muldfeld says:

    It’s good to know that Darabont had this planned out and also good to know that Kirkman is a man of conscience who cares about people losing their jobs. I wish that his political views could be part of the show to make it more political. Then again, it has dealt with issues of torture and rights. Great episode.

  25. Frantic says:

    I think we should have a Cameo by Will Smith. A scene where they flea the farm and come across the house from I am Legend where they get to meet Will smith who is close to a cure. Then the herd of Zombies come close and the gang fleas leaving will behind. Then the house blows up like in I am legend.

  26. linda says:

    I love this show so much and wow dale and shane dieing was way to cool. I felt everybit of Ricks pain as he killed shane though, and cried when dale died..

  27. Karthika says:

    I was wondering if you die and then turn into a walker, how come those two guys in the bar that Rick kills 3 episodes back didn’t turn?

  28. Pat says:

    I’ve been wondering what ever happened to the man and wife and their 2 children (CANT THINK OF THERE NAMES!)They said they had family they were goin to search for in season 3.Could they be in with randalls crew only an opinion but probaly very unlikely :)

  29. Nowlan says:

    How was randal killed i dont remember him being killed ?

  30. Don Merchant says:

    I would like to go back to a post someone else mentioned but no one has really replied with. I noticed this too…that Karl (Carl) pointed the gun at his dad (Rick) much before Shane got off the ground and became a Zombie. There is no doubt Karl was aiming that gun at his father! We need to understand this better. Karl does ask how Shane died but of course it was not answered due to the community of Walkers coming toward him and his dad. No doubt the virus is air borne.

  31. Mike says:

    I’m curious why they chose to not take the Dale/Andrea relationship in the direction it went in the comics.

  32. Brian says:

    Daisy Fuentes-that’s really funny. But I agree. There was the black father & son in the beginning-maybe they’ll return at some point. And the gang will surely run into more characters once they leave the farm. Hopefully, it’ll be diverse.

  33. Jared says:

    So I’m guessing the virus turning everybody into zombies is now airborn. Since Shane wasn’t bit and the zombie killed in the woods had no bite marks. Maybe everybody is already infected.

  34. Pepper says:

    But why must we always wait till the last episode of the season to get some action? All the drama is so yawnworthy.

  35. blaze says:

    I think the show is the best on Tv. A bunch of our club watches it.it freaked us out.hope it stays on for a long time.

  36. charleston says:

    i really hope that this show go on for a while you all show that you passionate about the show i love it they need a 3D game for the walking dead and they also need T Dog to act more bl
    ack then just saying all hell naw i mean we need saome f

  37. jude says:

    I haven’t read the comic, so I’m not sure how this plays out, but if everyone is now infected and when they die from any cause except brain-destruction they re-animate as a Walker, then the world really just becomes a hopeless apocalypse, and as Jenner says, this is humanity’s extinction event. Unless the story becomes about finding a cure, I can’t see how this can stay interesting and engaging.

  38. charleston says:

    some funny stuff too you know

  39. guest says:

    everyone is infected? that makes no sense. I assumed it’s a virus and the virus had evolved…
    I haven’t read the comic books but I hope it doesn’t turn into some weird supernatural explanation.

    PS: still waiting for that zombie cow.

  40. The real T-Dog says:

    Don’t know much about the graphic novels, but I’m thinking they need to add “fresh meat” to the TV cast since alot of the regulars are biting the dust. Fantastic show!!!

  41. Zombie Killer says:

    I knew this was Shane’s final episode when Lori (ugh, how I hate that woman) went to talk to him at the tower.

    No development for Shane’s death? Have you even been watching the show?? It’s been coming for a while. It’s been OBVIOUS that Shane was going to die. I can’t believe it took so long.

    Now, if you actually paid attention to the episode, you would have noticed those flashes when Shane died. That was the virus reanimating him! It’s in all of them. Always has been.

    I would NOT want to be with Shane. He’d kneecap you to save his own tail without a second thought. I would take Daryl over Rick or Shane. Rick would be my second choice b/c he does think about future implications unlike Shane who only thought about the here and now.

  42. Emily says:

    Man, that episode really freaked me out at the very end, awesome! I like the way Shane bit the dust. Ever since he became unhinged I’ve felt like he had to go, not to mention I think he kind of wanted Rick to man up and kill him. I think that there will be a little more than “everyone is infected already” to Jenner’s message, has to be a little bit different. I really hope they don’t kill Daryl or Glenn. I have a bad feeling for Maggie. I think the group will be split in season 3. And Lori annoys me. Big time. That bunch better get their zombie killin’ on, pronto, the finale’s going to be INTENSE.

  43. am says:

    That would be a very good twist….. and very possible!!!

  44. Neightron says:

    This sucks… :( I always thought to myself that, -It’ll all be okay. Just survive longer than everyone else. Everyone else will eventually die off and become zombies then their zombie corpses will eventually rot away, leaving only a few humans left. Now that it’s apparent that EVERYONE is going to become a zombie upon death, it is IMPOSIBLE to ever escape this zombie virus!

    There will always be zombies now. Always. The only way to escape this is to birth two humans in a lab, “not from a human mother thus contracting the virus”. And simultaneously eradicating all other humans, zombies, corpses, or other biological material that has the virus stored somewhere in it. Either that or find a cure; both scenarios are just as unlikely.

    Bye bye humans.

  45. Brian says:

    I think they wanted us to think Carl was pointing the gun at his dad initially. Although we see a zombiefied Shane rise up after Carl pulls the gun, he may have started to before, and Carl could see, just not us and of course, Rick. I really don’t think Carl would pull a gun on his dad, and as a poster pointed out, Carl may have been watching from the window and ran out when he saw Shane pull the gun on Rick.

  46. Scott says:

    I just watched S2EP12… I could not believe they killed Shane off. As soon as I knew he was going to die, I said out loud, “Now, wwwwwhy would I continue watching this show?” Shane was the BEST character that show has. So many others are annoying, Rick foremost of all. If they really wanted to be gutsy and shocking, they would have killed off Rick (and his wife too!).

  47. brent says:

    Sorry, but 28 days ISN’T a zombie movie, so please don’t reference that as an example of one. Yes, it follows the same basic formula, but the victims do not die, they are consumed by a rage virus. They are not re-animated corpses, chop one in half at the waist, they will bleed to death, not drag themselves around with their arms searching for flesh to gnaw on.

  48. Rlynh says:

    I’m beginning to understand that “the walking dead” in the title aren’t the zombies. Really, I hope the show isn’t going to turn into this “see how often we can shock the audience by killing characters” fest. Having hope that some of them will survive is what gives the show its real edge.

  49. brent says:

    Why exactly would the baby be immune? If they all carry a virus that is dormant until it can act on dead tissue, the baby would just carry the same virus. Where does this miracle cure come from? There won’t be a cure found on this show, saving the world is not what the story is about, its about what happens to people when civilization crumbles.

  50. kevin says:

    didn’t notice that anyone brought this up while i was skimming comments but i may have missed it..but hopefully noone is falling into the trap of thinking that it will be one or more of the original group who will be getting killed in the season 2 finale this sunday…in that interview he said that “the cast that enters the final episode this season does not leave the final episode intact.” so while i don’t think the original members left are going to escape completely unscathed…feasibly you could see any of these characters such as maggie, her sister, the other guy i think that’s her brother in law, and hershel dead and still have the members of the original cast that are all left survive. i don’t think that all the original members left will survive, but with the way he stated that in the interview it could be a possibility…bring on the season finale!!!

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