Chad Coleman’s Tyreese Williams was one of The Walking Dead’s most beloved characters, so why did the AMC series kill him off in season 5?
Why did The Walking Dead kill off Tyreese Williams (Chad Coleman) in season 5? An important character who originated from the comics, Tyreese joined the AMC series when it was in its third season – and he quickly became a fan-favorite. Before meeting Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Tyreese was the leader of his own group of survivors. Though at first rejected by Rick, Tyreese became a valued member of Rick’s group and a key character during the storyline involving the Governor (David Morrissey).
Tyreese met his end in The Walking Dead season 5, episode 9, “What Happened and What’s Going On”, in what was a shocking twist for fans. At this time, the group had recently picked up a new survivor named Noah (Tyler James Williams), who hailed from a separate community. When Noah left to go look for his family, Tyreese – who had formed a friendship with Noah – helped Rick and a few others try to find him. After going into Noah’s home, a distracted Tyreese was bitten on the arm by a zombie. Throughout the rest of the episode, Tyreese was haunted by hallucinations of people they had lost. For a while, it was believed that Tyreese could be saved if his arm was amputated, but in the end, he died of blood loss.
Tyreese, who had received a great deal of screen time since his introduction, evolved into a beloved character. So why did The Walking Dead kill him off? After Tyreese’s death, Chad Coleman explained in an interview that his exit from the series was showrunner Scott Gimple’s decision, rather than his own. According to Coleman, Gimple said Tyreese’s fate was a “necessary evil”. Gimple felt that an “impactful death to remind us of the value of human life” was something that show needed. Gimple decided that this character should be Tyreese, because he was someone that fans were “endeared” to [via THR], therefore he could provide an emotional blow.
It’s worth wondering if The Walking Dead didn’t already deliver when it came to giving the show an “impactful death” in season 5. After all, Tyreese died just one episode after Beth (Emily Kinney) was killed in the hospital, and she had been a part of the series since season 2. But The Walking Dead didn’t stop with Beth and killed off another fan-favorite in the following episode. Naturally, Tyreese’s death came as a major disappointment to fans, especially those who saw Tyreese as a moral anchor for those who were a bit too violent.
Tyreese had gone through a lot over the course of the show, including the death of Karen (Melissa Ponzio), the controversial incident with the two young girls, and his conflict with Carol (Melissa McBride). Despite all the growth that Tyreese had experienced in his time on The Walking Dead, it all came to an abrupt end. In 2018, Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman looked back on The Walking Dead and revealed that he wished he could bring back Tyreese, and it’s easy to see why. It certainly felt that there was more to do with Tyreese, and it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if he had stuck around. How would Tyreese have adapted to Alexandria, and what would he have done about the Saviors? Unfortunately, these are questions that will never have answers.
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The Walking Dead Complete Series