The Walking Dead’s series finale focused on one surprising death, but looking at the show’s character appearance stats, the chosen victim makes sense.
Rosita may not have seemed the most obvious victim for The Walking Dead‘s series finale, but one glance at the show’s character appearance numbers reveals why she was chosen. Given The Walking Dead‘s reputation as a TV show where no character is safe, the final episode could have easily been a bloodbath. Instead, The Walking Dead chose its last batch of victims very carefully. Indeed, the only character death of note in “Rest In Peace” was Christian Serratos’ Rosita, who succumbed to a zombie bite after rescuing her daughter from the Commonwealth.
Rosita’s death became the emotional core of AMC’s The Walking Dead ending. The long-running zombie apocalypse TV show wrapped its main narrative with various characters saying their goodbyes to Rosita, before a time jump revealed how the remaining survivors were faring one year later. The prominence of Rosita’s death in The Walking Dead‘s season finale was, arguably, surprising. Christian Serratos only joined the cast midway through season 4, and was always a supporting figure – sometimes fading into the background entirely. Questions could be asked over whether Rosita Espinosa was an important enough character for her death to take center stage in The Walking Dead‘s big finale.
Walking Dead’s Appearance Stats Prove Rosita Was The Obvious Finale Victim
Picking Rosita as the main series finale victim makes far more sense when looking at The Walking Dead‘s overall character appearance count (via TheWalkingDeadWorld). As the only heroes to survive the entire blood-soaked series, Daryl and Carol unsurprisingly top the list. Daryl was safe due to his upcoming Walking Dead spinoff, which Carol was originally involved in. Next are Rick Grimes, Michonne and Maggie – all three of which are also starring in spinoffs, meaning they were safe too. With 94 credits, Rosita is the Walking Dead character with the most appearances not attached to a forthcoming project, and this explains why she was the logical victim for the series finale.
Walking Dead‘s finale needed an emotional gut-punch – the kind that only comes from killing main characters. Due to the franchise’s expansion, however, the top five most prevalent characters were all protected. Rosita being the last major death in The Walking Dead might seem anticlimactic, but she was the best option available. An argument could be made that Carol should have taken Rosita’s place. The feasibility of that depends on when Melissa McBride exited the Daryl Dixon spinoff series in relation to the finale’s script being written, and whether The Walking Dead plans to give Carol future cameos as compensation for her leaving the new show due to logistical problems.
How Walking Dead Spinoffs Impacted The Final Season
Although The Walking Dead‘s character appearance count does shine a light on why Rosita’s death was so prominent in the finale, it also reveals just how dramatically AMC’s spinoff plans limited what the concluding episode could do. The Walking Dead‘s ending would have felt far more dramatic if an original character such as Daryl or Carol – or Maggie, who is a Walking Dead original in spirit, if not officially – had died alongside Rosita. In an alternate universe where spinoffs were never invented, it is almost inconceivable that all three would have emerged from the Walking Dead finale ending alive.
Given that Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira had already left the series, it seems highly unlikely that The Walking Dead would have brought either character back in the finale just to kill them off – irrespective of the upcoming Rick and Michonne spinoff. Nevertheless, their roles in the final episode would have surely been different. In that hypothetical spinoff-free parallel universe, The Walking Dead might have brought Rick and Michonne back as part of a finale reunion with Judith and RJ, concluding their story. Instead, the episode used Lincoln and Gurira to set up a new chapter, again highlighting how heavily spinoffs dictated the course of The Walking Dead‘s ending.