Post Mortems
The Walking Dead Denise Dies

The Walking Dead's Merritt Wever Reacts to Eye-Popping Twist

The following story contains spoilers from Sunday’s The Walking Dead. Proceed at your own peril. 

Holy comic-book detour.

The Grim Reaper took aim at Merritt Wever‘s Denise in this week’s Walking Dead, but the real twist was how the dear ol’ doc croaked. Unlike in Robert Kirkman’s comics, which saw the zombie-bitten character die at the merciful hands of Michonne, Denise was executed by Savior Dwight, who shot an arrow directly into her right eye socket.

In the following Q&A, the zen-like Wever — an Emmy winner for her seven-season run on Nurse Jackie — reveals when she learned Denise was getting whacked, explains why she didn’t beg producers to keep her around longer and admits that she was rather pleased that Denise didn’t get a traditional zombie sendoff.

TVLINE | No pun intended, did you see it coming?
[Laughs] I did. I knew it was coming. I knew that I was going to only be on the show for this season. I didn’t know how until a couple before [we shot the episode].

TWDEyeTVLINE | Did you hold out any hope that perhaps the producers would change their minds and keep you around longer? Maybe give Denise an eyepatch?
It’s an amazing place to work. I had heard that it was a really nice set before starting the job, and it’s all true. So it would’ve been an amazing place to [continue working in]. But it was understood all along that it would only be the length of [Season 6] and I didn’t let myself think otherwise. I’m not a hopeful person by nature, either.

TVLINE | What did you think when you learned how she would die?
I thought, ‘Cool.’ In the back of my mind I assumed it was going to be a zombie [that did her in], and I remember thinking that [an arrow in the eye] was a lot less messy and, therefore, a lot easier on me.

TVLINE | How did you shoot the scene?
It wasn’t that intricate. Something like that for [the Walking Dead] special effects team is probably very small potatoes. I saw other people [get killed off] and it was a lot gorier and more intense. Like when Jessie and the kids died. They fit me for a prosthetic and then placed it over my eye. I had to have one eye closed and then they put the [fake] wounded eye with an arrow sticking out over it. It affected my balance a little bit but that’s about it.

TVLINE | Is there any part of you that’s sorry you didn’t get a big zombie death like Denise does in the comics?
Noooo. [Laughs] I was OK. As an actor, I know what that entails, and how many takes it would require and things like that. I was like, “Oh, an arrow through the eye? I can do this.”

TVLINE | Was that awesomely inspiring speech that Denise gave to Daryl and Rosita the writers’ parting gift to you?
That’s a lovely way to think of it. It’s really nice when they send you off that they also give you something nice to do for an episode. But the writers were good to me [throughout the season]. It was a really nice experience.

TVLINE | Did knowing that Denise wouldn’t live to be reunited with Tara make it tempting to overplay the significance of their goodbye?
Yes, it did. I didn’t see that episode [when it aired], so I don’t know if that ended up being the case or not… It’s 728b4a44b3331a8fdd737795f8b08c78interesting, I probably worked with [Alanna Masterson] the most but it didn’t feel like we worked together much for two people in a relationship. It’s a big show and you get put into situations and those are the given circumstances. There wasn’t a lot of time with a cast this big and stories this big to develop the relationship.

TVLINE | I’m sad we won’t get to see the sibling bond between Denise and Daryl develop more.
I think that was on purpose. It was really nice to work with [Norman Reedus]. It would’ve been lovely to work with him more.

TVLINE | Did you get to keep any props as souvenirs?
I don’t think I [took] anything. But I could be forgetting something. I’m the kind of person who takes a souvenir and then forgets they have it, and then I find it when I move apartments 10 years later. There’s probably a torn off ear somewhere.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. DarkDefender says:

    Complete shocker. I loved Denise. She was really coming along nicely as a character.
    I also think her and Darryl could have developed a cool bother/sister bond. Too bad we’ll never get to see that play out.

  2. Jax&Juice's Girl says:

    That’s just down right sad…..feel bad for Tara when she finds out. Daryl is DEFFINALTY going after that SOB that shot her. As for Eugene setting up that attack ahhahaha that made me LMAO!! #EugeneD*BITE!!!!

    Plus what the hell is Carol doing?……..Morgan I think is going to track her down and will talk her to come back……THE SAVOIRS ARE OUT THERE! She’s crazy for leaving.

  3. Lee phillips says:

    I loved Denise not at first but once we got to know her!!!! She was just learning to be brave!!!! So sad that we get so involved and in the end they are all going to die!!! Wow sad but love the walking dead and how people can actually get along in such difficult times!!!

  4. JosiahBartlet4President says:

    I adored Merritt on Nurse Jackie. Thinking about getting into TWD as a result of her being on it. Hope to see her on the small screen again soon.

  5. Erik says:

    Yet another reason I’m glad I don’t watch the show anymore.

    • Cris says:


      I never understood these kind of comments. Ok? Congrats? You’ve added 0 substance or anything remotely interesting. Why you people bother to come to comment boards to say you don’t watch said show goes right over my head.

  6. Spence says:

    So sad and I felt like I was punched in the gut when it happened, but just like Merritt, I saw it coming. I knew Denise and Tara couldn’t have lasted very long and I had a suspicion Dwight would come back in tonight’s episode, I just thought it would be Abraham that he killed. I’m curious to see what fantastic storylines they have planned for Abe now that he’s living past his expiration date!

  7. Dah says:

    The spoiler is in the article link erghhhhhh

  8. Et al. says:

    There are so many useless characters on this show that it’s frustrating when they knock off one I enjoy.

  9. peterwdawson says:

    Never have medical training on The Walking Dead. Ever since Hershel it’s seemed like no one with medical training could survive much more than a season.

  10. nathanweisser says:

    Hey I see this article in my Google news feed and it spoils the episode before I see it. Congrats on getting into my feed, but I really wish there was a non spoiler headline.

  11. JRobey83 says:

    I really upset that Denise died. I loved her character, I loved her relationship with Tara and I love Merritt Wever. In the comics it’s Abraham who is killed by Dwight. Honestly, I wished they followed the comics on that one. I love Michael Cudlitz, but I’m not an Abraham fan. He was awful to Rosita and I think Sasha deserves better.

  12. Natalie says:

    Denise irked me in this episode with the “risks” she was taking, but I was so sad that they killed her But I’m glad they didn’t kill Eugene.

    • Jake says:

      Personally, I think they should have killed Eugene, talk about a useless character. At least Denise had medical training.

      • A fan of TV says:

        Dude, opinions. Eugene is going to manufacture bullets and no one else knows how to do that. You might think he’s useless but that’s neither universally agreed not backed up by fact, for the record.

      • Alright then........ says:

        Yes Denise had medical training. But they’ve got another Dr at Hilltop that they could use if the need arises. Rosita and Maggie do have some medical training so they know a bit in the way of medicine.

        But as noted above, Eugene has the brains and wants to make bullets. That’s a unique set of skills as we haven’t met anyone else with this skills on the show. Bullets are important not only for protection but they can be used to trade with other communities so ASZ can get food and medical supplies through these trades. So Eugene is a very valuable member of the community.

        • Jake says:

          Ok, I agree with you…but how long has Eugene been dragging along in the background. He could have come up with the idea to make bullets at anytime and had the others gather the necessary equipment. To me and yes it is my opinion, he is just a dead weight!

          • Brigid says:

            He also saved everyone’s life last night with his “distraction”.

          • Alright then........ says:

            I guess it depends on what you call ‘dead weight’. Here’s what Eugene has done so far (1) Fixed the power generator in epi ‘Spend’ season 5 (2) while on a run saved Tara when she injured her head in the same epi mentioned previously (3) helped the group escape walkers by use of car noise same epi (4) came up with the plan on what to use to build the wall while they were directing the walkers from the quarry (5) helped Denise while treating Holly in the infirmary (6) he picked a lock (7) Rosita said Eugene was teaching her chemistry which will come in handy given they don’t have a doctor now that Denise is dead – medicine formulation etc (8) gave Daryl and Rick a list of crops that they would grow (9) helps with guarding duties at ASZ (10) in the last epi he used a memorable distraction as mentioned above. The list goes on.

            I get that he’s not good at combat which is needed to survive especially while on the road or on a run. But from the last episode we see he’s really trying to get better at fighting.

  13. Joey Padron says:

    Sad Denise died. Merritt did great in this episode. Great interview with her.

  14. jazzyt2u says:

    The more they kept talking on the tracks the more i suspected that something bad was about to happen. Good shocker with the arrow through the eye. It’s also fitting that a human killed her because twice she survived walkers coming for her…

  15. Zayne says:

    Screw your article titles TVLine. Spoilers, you dicks!

  16. We are ALL Negan!! Go F yourselves!!

  17. Lovell says:

    Merritt was the only reason I watched the show…she is OMG beautiful. Soo beautiful. The art of acting when performed at the level she brings is rare…..her talent is amazing…when you can ilicit raw emotion from viewers….its a special gift. Her character was so kind, loving, I think one has to have those characterics to be able to imprint them upon a character…as someone who was not familiar with the comic…or the story, each episode for me is (was) new….I am still shaken from her death…I cried …and as I write this tears fall …Denise had just made what was for her a major breakthrough…I didn’t want her to be able to kill….that also hurt..I was saying to the TV..”Nooooo.nooo don’t “…I closed my eyes….I was still in shock as I .tried to listen to her…what she was saying….she seemed angry…mean….I was feeling like her beautiful soul was gone..and as my mind went thru all these emotions….(as I write this…I am finally feeling at peace.)seeing her seem to transform into something not beautiful(such talent)…she was killed! hands shake….at the recollection…but…now I feel better…the kind, beautiful Denise died the moment she could hurt, be violent….and that person I would not have wanted to see more of…I hope she gets the opportunity to show the world her talent in other venues where she can touch peoples hearts. I may turn to the show every once in a while from now on…the only other character I felt touched by was Carol….and she is gone too!!…to much for me. As a 52yr old who years ago left the film finance business because there was no integrity….it’s healing to see those who have the craft….not so-called stars..but talent….she is really amazing.Merrit thank you for alllowing me to ‘feel’ again.

  18. Um, is no one going to talk about how unrealistic that shot even looked. No lurch forward, no transfer of energy, and let alone continuing to talk after getting shot like that. Nope. Try again, Hollywood.