Understanding Walking Dead Fans' Grief Through Glenn

This ‘Walking Dead’ Favorite Is Likely Dead — But Feel Free To Convince Me Otherwise

Fans of The Walking Dead have been here before. Yes, you have. Think back recently to a certain blonde being shot in a hospital after stabbing someone with scissors — Beth Greene. Remember her? She’s the one who died just when it seemed she was going to be reunited with her Walking Dead crew. Her death was shocking, upsetting for her fans, and many argued it was absolutely needless.

There were theories as to how Beth could be brought back to life and even a petition. Yet, after the massive outpouring of emotion, Beth is still very much dead.

But with Glenn Rhee, things are supposed to be different, right? After all, Glenn is a true fan favorite. He’s been around since Season 1. He’s married. He’s one of the few remaining friends Rick Grimes has left. He had to survive!

Almost immediately after Season 6’s shocking third episode, the denial fest began.

“Glenn isn’t dead!” fans said. “They wouldn’t kill Glenn.”

Amazing reaction considering we are six seasons into The Walking Dead. Six! And need I remind you this is a series about a godawful zombie apocalypse where everything is terrible? I can’t help but wonder how people who’ve tuned in for so long make room for Pollyanna levels of optimism.

Perhaps at this stage, it would be best to put off knee-jerk denial and instead expect the worst. That way, you can be pleasantly surprised if the worst doesn’t happen. So much better than feeling dead inside when your “it was all a dream” theories and petitions go up in smoke.

So, I’m going to be that person that gives you the worst-case scenarios. I’m not going to delude you or feed your denial delusions in order to make you feel better about this. Acceptance is the final stage of grief, and the sooner you accept what happened to Glenn and all its terribleness, the quicker you will fully be able to be sad about it — and move on. People can be gone from a series like The Walking Dead but not forgotten. There are flashbacks. There are mentions. There might even be zombie! Glenn.

The first “compelling” theory that emerged after the recent Walking Dead episode was that all of this was just a hallucination. I saw a similar theory floated when Beth died. Someone said that her death should be/could be made into a bad dream, and everything really ended happily ever after!

This may seem like a revolutionary “gotcha” moment, but this particular trope is well-known — and hated. Such a suggestion is when you know Walking Dead fans are in the grips of grief rather than thinking as persons who would not ordinarily appreciate having a show insult their intelligence while taking the easy way out. Not killing Glenn after a scene like that would be the ultimate cop-out. I said something similar in response to a proposal to revive the still-dead Beth using a dream/hallucination. It would only bring short-term relief while doing long-term damage to the show’s credibility.

But as for why the above theory makes no sense, consider what happened after Nicholas shot (or did he?) himself. We see the carnage through the eyes of Glenn. Not Nicholas — Glenn. If Nicholas is the one who is hallucinating, why aren’t we seeing Glenn’s tearful final moments through his eyes? I mean, we’ve been seeing his freakouts through his own eyes up until the moment he ends his life. Why suddenly shift the focus to Glenn if Nicholas is the one imagining everything?

As for the “Nicholas fell on Glenn and that’s who the Walkers were eating” theory, I’m afraid that won’t work either. Although they fell together, Nicholas was not directly on top of Glenn. We would have seen his head, arm, or some other party of his body. Walking Dead fans see Glenn from the neck up. That close up was mainly for emotional impact, not to hide something (*wink* *wink*) from fans. What we see, even though we didn’t want to see it, was Glenn being torn to shreds.

We see his grey shirt slowly coated with his spurting blood, and he’s helpless as the Walkers disembowel him. Then we see this.

Everyone who went back and forth through the scene looking for a possible way for Glenn to survive should have frozen the film on the above image and called it a day. There we have two men, one with a bullet in his head and no signs of life, on the ground in front of a trash can surrounded by rabid zombies reaching from all directions. The horde was in a feeding frenzy. If Glenn gets away from that impossible situation unscathed, we might see an Annie Wilkes-style rant.

“HE DIDN’T GET AWAY FROM THE COCKADOODIE ZOMBIES!”

If you wanted to look for other signs that the Walking Dead fully intended to kill off Glenn this episode, consider that (1) the show runners politely suggested you record your reaction to the episode (2) Glenn’s final words to Rick recalled a jab he made when they first met in Season 1, and (3) comic book fans already know that Glenn was destined to die at some point.

The argument that Glenn lived because his comic book death was different holds no water. For instance, it wasn’t Rick who killed Shane in the comic books — it was Carl. Clearly, the Walking Dead showrunners have always been comfortable making whatever changes best suit the series. They borrow from the comics, but they don’t swear by them.

Oh, and there’s also the fact that his peril was parallel to the peril experienced by another fan favorite at the exact same moment: Michonne.

Walkers had her by the legs just as things were appearing just as hopeless for Glenn. I knew at that moment it was going to be one or the other. And, of course, we ended the episode with Rick in his classic horror movie scenario.

With that in mind, I’ll say I was absolutely heartbroken when The Walking Dead killed off Glenn. I’m still upset, and I hate everyone for having to watch him die dozens of time for the sake of writing this article.

Having written the above, I will say that if it turns out that he didnt get killed, I will be happy. I will think a little less of The Walking Dead for not having the guts — no pun intended — to kill off a major character early in the season, but I’ll be glad that he’s alive. At least if I accept that Glenn is dead and then find out he isn’t, I get to feel relieved.

And so you don’t think I’m a completely heartless individual, look here for a list of great reasons why Glenn just might have made it out of that situation.

In the meantime, if you want to convince me that Glenn is still kicking, good luck. I’m going to need something really logical to get rid of the image of that horde of frenzied zombies tearing Glenn and Nicholas to pieces. You’re welcome to try in the comment section below!

[Image via screengrab from YouTube/AMC]

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