Before Actors on The Walking Dead Die, They All Dine: Death Dinner Stories

The somber feasts continue with The ’s Season 7 premiere and will roll on from there. That’s largely thanks to the ultra-violent Negan, a vicious man with a baseball bat who willkill some of the cast in this season, and that’s not even a spoiler – the show runners have essentially promised fans that much. So armed with that knowledge, let’s take a moment to talk about the show’s “death dinners.” These formal, secretive meals bring the cast together to celebrate the death of one of their own and have become a long-standing tradition on the show. 

The Walking Dead’s death dinners invite all the cast members from the show’s run – those who have survived this far and those who haven’t – together to celebrate and mourn the loss of characters killed off on the show. David Morrissey and Scott Wilson had one hell of a death dinner, considering Morrissey’s Governor killed Wilson’s fan-favorite character, Hershel, before the Governer met his maker, too. Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori) returned for that dinner, having grown close to Wilson in Season 3. “Once you’ve been in The Walking Dead, you’re always in The Walking Dead,” Morrissey said.

Just so you know, when Rick’s number is up, Andrew Lincoln has plans. “Well, I always said to Norman [Reedus] that I would burn my trailer and you have to drag me screaming and kicking off set. It’s funny, I like the idea of a Norse funeral where they put me on a boat and push me out to sea. You know, fire arrows at my wrapped body.” And certainly there would be a feast for Lincoln that would choke a Norse god. Chandler Riggs will bring the pudding now that he’s allowed to come to the parties. Before he was so young, he couldn’t attend. Melissa McBride is down for a casserole. Bob’s tainted meat probably will go untouched, though.

Due to spoilers, The Walking Dead death dinners have had to change venues over the years. In the early days, a cast member might book a large private dining area in an Atlanta-area restaurant with the excuse of throwing a birthday dinner, but as the show has become a worldwide hit, they’ve had to go underground and hold the parties at a producer or cast member’s home. 

Keep reading to learn more about everything the cast and crew have shared about The Walking Dead’s death dinners. Bon appetite!

Death: Season 7, Episode 1 “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”

Abraham went out like he lived his life, like a soldier. He gave Sasha one final peace sign and accepted his fate. Cudlitz is a class act and was determined not to overshadow co-star Steven Yeun’s death saying, “I was actually concerned about that going in, because I’m a fan of both the graphic novel and the show. So as a fan of the show, when we were doing this, when this did come up, I was very specific to Scott, I said, ‘This cannot in any way take away from Glenn’s death.’”

Not only did he share the secret of their deaths for over a year with Yeun, Cudlitz also shared his death dinner. Both had long accepted their fates so the dinner was emotional yet there were tons of laughs.

Death: Season 4, Episode 8 “Too Far Gone”

Wilson had a feeling his time was coming before he was told by showrunner Scott Gimple it was going to happen. Wilson said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “It was something that I sensed before the conversations took place – like in Episode 403, with the speech he has about the risk of being alive in that post-apocalyptic world. In Episode 405, when he had so much to do, I knew it wasn’t a good sign for him.” The actor also believed that Hershel shouldn’t have been written out, but went gently into that good night anyway. On the day of Hershel’s death, the crew wore suspenders and dressed like the character.

Not only did Hershel get killed with Michonne’s katana, he also had to share his death dinner with the man who killed him. Of his death dinner, Wilson said, “It’s otherworldly in a way. It’s a death dinner but you still feel so alive. It’s a great expression by the cast for everyone. Those who are still alive have gratitude to those who came before them, and we have these [dinners] to honor them.”

Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori) returned to attend the dinner. She and Wilson were close.

By the way, Wilson took a replica of Hershel’s head with him as a souvenir.

Death: Season 4, Episode 8 “Too Far Gone”

Morrissey, who played the Governor, truly felt sorry for having to kill the beloved character of Hershel and both of their last days on set were bittersweet. After all, you don’t just kill a man like Hershel and live. In the end, Michonne ran the Governor threw and left him to turn. Even his girlfriend was there to finish him off because his negligence got her daughter killed. Morrissey thinks the Governor got what he deserved. But the act of killing a favorite character played by a well-loved actor took its toll.

“Then there’s the other thing in being the man who kills Scott Wilson. Bringing his involvement with the show was very hard, and it was a very emotional day. The way the filming happened, that happened on one day, and everyone came to the set and was there for Scott. It was amazing. Scott went home and three or four days later, it was time for my death, and Scott came back to the set to say goodbye to me. After my death, Scott and I spent the day together and played pool and had a few drinks. It’s always very upsetting when someone you love and are friends with goes, and it was very traumatic for all of us,” Morrissey recounted.

Scott Wilson (Hershel) holds no grudges. In fact, quite the opposite. “It was like an old Western, like High Noon, with a shootout on Main Street. David did a wonderful job; the more villainous he is, the stronger it made Hershel’s death. It’s wonderful to watch an actor do something that the audience will not respond well to, and David did a wonderful job,” Wilson said.

Death: Season 3, Episode 15 “This Sorrowful Life”

We know from the now-famous scene that Daryl kills his brother-turned-walker Merle. Reedus talked about how each death takes the wind out of everyone, but Rooker’s death in particular was heavy. “ I was bummed to see Rooker go. He’s such a strong character and such a good actor. He brought so much to the show so I was bummed to see him leave,” Reedus told EW.

Rooker was such a big part of the show from the beginning, the death dinner served as a wake for the infamous redneck Merle and the man who played him with glee. “Yeah, we had a nice dinner. Everyone shows up and everyone’s bummed and tears are shed. Castmates are all hugging each other and having drinks and being sad about it. I just talked to Jon Bernthal who still watches the show and he was going on about how good Rooker was. He really brought that character to a whole other level and it could have been such a flat character and a character you’ve seen before, and it wasn’t. So we sat around, had some drinks and talked about what a good job he did and how much we’re gonna miss him,” Reedus said.

Death: Season 3, Episode 4 “Killer Within”

Since T-Dog died in the same episode as Sarah Wayne Callie’s character Lori, Singleton shared his death dinner with her. Singleton described the different stages of grief when a Walking Dead character dies. “It was a sad supper, a sad supper but it was uplifting too. We laughed and joked and once we had a couple glasses of wine it was fun. And then the crash came later… after dinner we left and went home. I don’t know about Sarah.The validation set in and I was like ‘Wow I just had my death dinner and it’s over, wow the run is over.’”

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