If Aaron Dies, I Riot

It’s October now, which means a few things. Fall has begun, pumpkin spice is everywhere, Halloween is on its way, and The Walking Dead will soon be returning. The seventh season is set to premiere Oct 23rd and it’s promised to be one of the biggest premieres in the show’s history. Not only has a fan-favorite villain entered the mix, but last season’s cliffhanger finale showed us that a main character had clearly met their end by his chained baseball bat. Of course every fan and every entertainment news source has since posted about how they’ve cracked the formula and figured out who died, but it’s all speculation and click-bait. No one knows for certain.

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In the finale, the line-up of potential victims included beloved primary characters Rick, Daryl, Carl, Michonne, Maggie, and Glenn – popular secondary characters Abraham, Sasha, Rosita, and Eugene – and then there was also the relative newcomer, Aaron.

I’ve personally stayed away from most of the “news” and rumors fans and writers have been spreading around since that finale, but I’ve seen enough to know that the majority of people are expecting the victim to be revealed as either Glenn, Daryl, Abraham, or the pregnant Maggie. I can support these theories easily enough, as the deaths would be shocking to fans AND it would make financial sense as far as the show’s production is concerned. That said, I can’t help but imagine the deaths of the other characters and the impact each of their departures could potentially have on the show. And from that realm, I now only worry about and focus on the one option I feel is not often discussed when it comes to the mystery of ‘Who Did Negan Kill?’

Aaron, the openly gay recruitment scout from the Alexandria community.

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I’ve already spoken to how lackluster TWD is in developing its queer characters (something that has so far not been an issue in Fear the Walking Dead), but the idea that Aaron could be the one who was killed in the finale really concerns me.

Not only would Aaron’s death mean the departure of another strong gay character on a major television show, something that has been discussed harshly by queer viewers within the past years, accompanied by the hashtag #BuryYourGays, but it would technically make him the second queer character to bite the dust in the sixth season of the show (Denise, Tara’s new lover, was the first).

Aside from the simple fact that loosing him would just plain suck for the small-but-growing array of queer representation on television, it really wouldn’t even make sense. The finale was so brutal, so tense and frightening, and the cliffhanger left viewers with wracked nerves and big expectations. When the show comes back this month, we’re all expecting something heartbreaking and story-changing. We’re expecting Maggie to be sitting beside Glenn’s grave or for Carl to have inherited Daryl’s crossbow or for Abraham to be drinking away the memory of Sasha or Rosita’s death. But Aaron…?

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Aaron is the newest and least developed character in Negan’s line-up. He was introduced just two seasons ago and has definitely not completed a story arc of any major note. For fans of the show who don’t necessarily have much invested into Aaron’s character, his death could seem like a “safe” choice for the show to take; at the most, they might take it as a rip-off, a payload not worth the long delivery time between seasons. In other words, his death would be the least impactful to the show’s narrative.

For fans of Aaron though, like myself and undoubtedly the many other gay fans of the show, his death will mean being cheated out of a strong, resourceful, stable, and likable gay character we can identify with and who clearly has more story left to be told.

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I’m definitely trying to stave off the feelings of potential disappointment until the new season’s premiere shows us definitively who was killed, but I can’t help but remember how so recently I was burned by TWD in its handling of Denise. If Aaron does die, it won’t be enough for me to abandon the show completely – I’m too invested in other characters and subplots – but it’ll definitely be a long time before the bitterness and sense of failure in the show-runners goes away. (If at all. I’m a grudge holding expert.)

Think it’ll be Aaron who was dispatched by Negan, or do you think he’s safe? I’d love to know your thoughts. Also, Happy October!!!

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