Walking Dead boss explains why [REDACTED] had to die

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Dec 17, 2012

The latest development on AMC's The Walking Dead could have larger implications than anything (barring the zombie apocalypse itself) has up to this point, says showrunner Robert Kirkman. Spoilers ahead!

Boy, the Walking Dead writers sure know how to pull off a one-two punch. After Dale's shocking death last week, they finally pulled the rug out from under Shane, who has been on borrowed time for quite a while.

Kirkman told TV Line the decision to keep Shane around longer than his comic book counterpart opened up some great creative potential, but it started to distract from the show's true protagonist: Rick.

"[A]t 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," he said. "[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.'"

But, that doesn't mean the decision to off Shane came easy. In fact, Kirkman said there was a lively writers'-room debate about keeping him around a while longer.

"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," he said. "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."

Kirkman also touched on how Shane's 11th-hour zombie-fication could tie in to that lingering secret Dr. Jenner whispered to Rick last season. Fans have speculated that the secret is that we're all doomed, and everyone is infected, but Kirkman would neither confirm nor deny.

"Well, I can't confirm that," he said. "But what I can say is that Shane turning after being stabbed definitely does inform Rick revealing what Jenner whispered, in the next episode."

So, there you have it: Whatever Jenner's secret is, we'll know it next week. I don't know about you, but I can't wait.

(via TV Line)