‘The Walking Dead’ Season 9 Premiere: Actor Opens Up About Shock Exit In Episode 1

Episode 1 of the ninth season of 'The Walking Dead' ended with a hanging that many fans didn't expect.

AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Season 9 premiere, Episode 1, A New Beginning, Maggie Rhee, Gregory,
Jackson Lee Davis / AMC

Episode 1 of the ninth season of 'The Walking Dead' ended with a hanging that many fans didn't expect.

The Season 9 premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead was always going to be a bittersweet affair. Not only are fans anticipating the departure of Rick Grimes and Maggie Rhee in Season 9, but, with the recent death of Scott Wilson, and knowing his character would be gaining a grandchild, the episode was even more poignant. However, the episode ended with the surprise death of a character. So, what did the actor who played this character think of the sudden departure?

SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses the Season 9 premiere episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Please proceed with caution if you have not yet viewed Episode 1 (titled “A New Beginning”) and wish to avoid spoilers.

Ever since Gregory (Xander Berkeley) turned up in The Walking Dead, fans have been wishing to see the end of the character. Known to be both abrasive and spineless, the character did little more than create conflict for the other main characters.

By the end of Season 8 of The Walking Dead, Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) had usurped Gregory’s reign at Hilltop and fans wondered if things would settle down after that. However, with the Season 9 premiere of The Walking Dead, it became apparent that Gregory had not learned a thing from the conflicts involving Hilltop and the Sanctuary. As he pitted Hilltop residents against Maggie, fans were wishing the character dead.

However, when Maggie had Gregory hanged in the closing scene of Episode 1, fans were actually surprised that AMC had decided to do away with the character. After all, characters like Gregory, with their conflict-causing personalities, are usually important for moving the storyline forward.

AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Season 9, Episode 1, A New Beginning, Gregory, Xander Berkeley
  Jackson Lee Davis / AMC

However, for the actor who plays Gregory, Xander Berkeley, he was just happy his character got the hanging he deserved.

“There’s only so long a douchebag like Gregory can stay alive, so I wasn’t shocked to find out, even though it was very much at the last minute and I had been a little bit set up to expect a very different journey,” Berkeley revealed to Entertainment Weekly after the Season 9 premiere episode aired on Sunday night.

In the comic book series The Walking Dead is based on, Gregory also gets hanged. And, for Xander, it was a welcome change to the way his characters normally die.

“I’ve never been hung before and that would be good with all the death reels. I’ve got three falls from 30 floors. I’ve got three explosions in planes. I’ve got at least 15 stabbings and 25 gunshots. I needed a hanging. So I was counting on them following through on the comic book’s inevitable swinging from the tree at one time or another, but I just wasn’t sure it was gonna happen.”

As for how Gregory’s death will impact the upcoming storyline for Season 9 of The Walking Dead, well, fans will just have to tune in on Sunday to find out!

Season 9 of The Walking Dead returns to AMC with Episode 2 (titled “The Bridge”) on Sunday, October 14, at 9/8c. AMC‘s synopsis for Episode 1 is as follows.

“The communities join forces to restore a bridge that will facilitate communication and trade. Someone is gravely injured at the construction site.”