The Walking Dead’s Alternate Shane Death Would Have Made Rick Grimes The Villain

June 9, 2024 - Movies


  • Rick Grimes could have been The Walking Dead’s main villain if Shane had been killed differently in an alternate ending.
  • Killing an unarmed Shane would have haunted Rick, altering his character’s progression in the zombie series.
  • Shane was never meant to be a sympathetic villain, and his alternate ending would have undermined his true nature.

Rick Grimes has been the main hero of The Walking Dead since 2010, but an alternate Shane death would have made him the franchise’s main villain. When Rick Grimes first appeared on screens over a decade ago, he instantly won over audiences and became one of the best TV protagonists of all time. His run on the show lasted eight years before Andrew Lincoln exited The Walking Dead, but Rick’s return in The Ones Who Live reminded audiences of what the franchise had been missing and proved how much the zombie series needed its main protagonist.

While it’s unclear if Rick will return again in the future, he has cemented an incredible legacy in The Walking Dead universe, but things could have been completely different. Despite being one of the most popular and respected survivors, Rick has had his fair share of dark moments. His brutal and merciless kills have made him one of The Walking Dead‘s most dangerous characters, but despite these sinister moments, the protagonist has always found redemption. However, Rick’s story may have gone in an entirely different direction had Jon Bernthal’s original Shane ending happened, which would have made him a villain.

Jon Bernthal’s Shane Ending Would Have Painted Rick Grimes As The Walking Dead’s Villain

Rick Grimes’ Story Could Have Been Completely Different In Bernthal’s Alternative Shane Ending

Jon Bernthal’s proposed Shane ending would have slightly tweaked the character’s death, but it would have had massive ramifications for the rest of The Walking Dead and Rick’s story. Shane’s Walking Dead death came at the hands of Rick after an altercation between the former best friends. Throughout season 2, Shane became increasingly dangerous as he adapted to the apocalypse quicker than his fellow survivors, and he was willing to make unfathomable sacrifices. Alongside his unhinged mindset, Shane’s love for Rick’s wife, Lori, further divided the two characters and led to their showdown at the end of season 2.

Despite Shane drawing his weapon, Rick was able to catch him off guard and stab him, even though it was Shane who instigated the fight. This shocking moment called Rick’s morality into question, but the situation seemed like a kill-or-be-killed dilemma, somewhat justifying Rick’s actions. However, Bernthal’s original plan saw things play out slightly differently. The scene would have been largely the same, but after Shane came back as a walker, Rick would pick up Shane’s gun, only to find out it was empty.

This alternate death would have been a minimal change, yet it would have completely altered the show. Having Rick kill an unarmed Shane would have painted the protagonist in a worse light despite not having malicious intentions. Bernthal’s version suggested Shane wanted Rick to kill him as he knew they couldn’t coexist, and this was the only way he could step up and be the survivor Shane wanted him to be. This would have inadvertently made Rick more like Shane though, leading to the protagonist becoming increasingly ruthless and eventually turning into The Walking Dead‘s true villain.

Jon Bernthal appeared as Shane Walsh in 22 episodes of
The Walking Dead
, including flashback scenes.

Killing An Unarmed Shane Would Have Haunted Rick Throughout The Walking Dead

Shane’s Death Already Had A Massive Impact On Rick’s Character Progression

Rick already had to deal with plenty of trauma throughout his Walking Dead tenure, but killing an unarmed Shane would have haunted him. Alongside numerous allies, Rick lost both his son and wife during the apocalypse, meaning his Ones Who Live reunion was with an entirely different family from the one he started his journey with. All these tragic losses took their toll on the protagonist and even broke him mentally at times, but killing what turned out to be a defenseless Shane so early on would have stuck with him.

Shane’s death was already a major part of Rick’s development, but this extra detail would have sent him down a darker path. Lori and Hershel’s deaths contributed to one of Rick’s most brutal character arcs, but murdering an unarmed Shane may have changed him permanently. The Walking Dead highlighted Rick’s mental struggles on several occasions – including his latest spinoff – and Shane’s alternate exit would have been his true breaking point. Feeling as though he could only hurt people rather than save them would have changed Rick forever and given him a completely different personality in the process.


What If Shane Had Killed Rick In The Walking Dead Season 2?

The Walking Dead would’ve been a very different story if original villain Shane had completed his season 2 plan and managed to take down Rick Grimes.

Shane’s Alternate Ending Wouldn’t Have Worked For His The Walking Dead Story

Shane Was Never Supposed To Be A Sympathetic Villain

Bernthal’s alternate ending for his character would have been exciting, but it wouldn’t have worked for his Walking Dead story. Shane is still one of The Walking Dead‘s best villains, but he was never supposed to be sympathetic. Despite Shane doing plenty of bad, he was always a morally gray character with understandable yet unrelatable intentions. Killing Randall and leaving Otis for dead were some of his worst acts, yet as time went on, they seemed more acceptable as other central survivors developed somewhat similar methods.

Shane committed several unnecessary acts that threw his humanity into question, and his alternate ending would have made his death feel more tragic than inevitable.

This has led to some fans labeling Shane as ahead of the curve when it comes to the apocalypse, but even if this is true, he was still a villain at his core. Shane committed several unnecessary acts that threw his humanity into question, and his alternate ending would have made his death feel more tragic than inevitable. Even if he planned on dying, it would have felt like an almost noble way to go, undermining the rest of the season’s build-up to his villainy and going against the story The Walking Dead was trying to tell with Shane.

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