WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 9 episode "The Calm Before," which premiered Sunday on AMC.
The Walking Dead just aired a bloodbath that was on par with the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones. While the event wasn't totally unexpected, the characters who died included a long-time cast member and two big surprises for comics readers.
Executive producer Greg Nicotero spoke to Entertainment Weekly about how the creative team behind the series chose which characters to kill off and why the episode made a couple of major changes from the comic books.
"It's always about what these moments and these deaths do to other characters that catapults them forward," Nicotero said.
For fans of the comics, this episode of The Walking Dead made two huge changes to the list of the dead. In the comics, the two biggest names that had their heads posted on pikes by the Whisperers were King Ezekiel and a pregnant Rosita.
However, neither of those characters died during the Fair. Instead, Tara, the leader of the Hilltop, replaced Rosita as the long-time cast member who was killed at the hands of Alpha and The Whisperers. In the comics, Maggie was still the leader of The Hilltop and this move now puts the TV show's Hilltop into disarray again.
"Tara stepped up as a leader once Jesus died. She was showing some real authority and leadership at Hilltop" Nicotero said, which is why her death was an "organic decision."
Instead of killing Ezekiel, the show killed off Ezekiel and Carol's adoptive son, Henry. This was a huge surprise since most fans considered Henry to be the replacement for Carl on television, especially since he seemed to connect with Alpha's daughter, something Carl did in the comics.
Nicotero said that the reason for the change was to affect changes to characters on the show.
"In regard to Henry and his relationship to Carol (Melissa McBride), Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Ezekiel…there's a very specific reason to lose him."
He also mentioned that Enid and Alden were building a relationship and, much like Tara who discovered her leadership skills, they had that apparent progress brutally torn away from them.
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC, The Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Nadia Hilker, Dan Fogler, Angel Theory, Lauren Ridloff and Eleanor Matsuura.