The Walking Dead series has aired on AMC for 12 years, and during that time, many deaths have shaken the fandom. Deaths that have been gruesome, heartwrenching, and frequently shocking. But, for this writer, the death that has always stood out was that of Sophia Peletier, played by Bosch actress Madison Lintz. Her death scene in the midseason finale of season 2, “Pretty Much Dead Already,” aired on November 27, 2011.
Sophia’s death was one of the first deaths that pulled at viewers’ heartstrings partly because viewers held out hope that she would be found but mostly because she was a child. She didn’t have a major role, but she was always present in the first season and always on viewers’ minds as the survivors searched for her.
This scene was pivotal as viewers realized this wasn’t a typical series. The creators of this one weren’t afraid to push things to the max, make the viewers uncomfortable, and feel the pain of loss along with the characters.
As the series progressed, viewers became more vocal regarding the deaths of prominate characters, and this seemed to have hindered the creator’s confidence in being able to push scenes like the barn scene featured in “Pretty Much Dead Already.” If something like this happened in one of the later seasons, the fandom would have come unglued, especially if it was to a fan-favorite character.
The Walking Dead – Sophia’s death
Madison Lintz portrayed Sophia and was only seen in a handful of episodes. But, being one of the children in the series, she was expected to be protected from harm. When she went missing, it was assumed that Daryl (Norman Reedus) or Rick (Andrew Lincoln) would find her, or she would never be found and presumed dead. Never did viewers think she would exit the barn as a walker.
The Making of the Barn Scene video (below) is a great behind-the-scenes look into this episode. Many vividly remember seeing the thin, frail ankles emerge from the barn as the camera pans up and reveals that this walker child is Sophia. Everyone stares in horror; not even Shane (Jon Bernthal), who moments before was in a fit of rage, killing walkers like a madman, could move a muscle. Her mother, Carol’s (Melissa McBride) reaction hits you in the heart like one of Daryl’s arrows, and then we see Carl’s (Chandler Riggs) sweet little face look on in complete sadness at the loss of his friend. And Rick, always the leader, does what no one else can. He aims his gun and pulls the trigger, putting Sophia out of her undead misery.
The video makes this scene seem much lighter than it appears in the episode as the cast jokes about the heat of the day. You can hear the walkers calling out which character they are heading towards, and two walkers casually talk about getting some food. Norman Reedus shares that today is the day his girlfriend Maddy will be killed on set, as Lintz developed a crush on Reedus and told everyone he was her boyfriend. Melissa McBride shared her thoughts on Sophia’s small little ankles and how fragile she looked. A very young Madison Lintz shares her experience making this scene in the video.
This is one scene that will always be thought of as a memorable one in The Walking Dead universe.