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What episode does Glenn die in The Walking Dead, and how?

We recap the traumatic scene and see how Steven Yeun found new depths playing complex roles after leaving the show.
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Published onJanuary 30, 2024

From the very first episode, The Walking Dead established itself as a show where no character was safe. Fans quickly learned never to get too attached, because the writers would ruthlessly kill off even beloved main characters for the sake of emotional impact.

Glenn was one of the few remnants left of the original Atlanta band of survivors we were first introduced to, so his violent end came as a visceral gut punch.

Let’s look deeper at Glenn’s death scene, and what actor Steven Yeun has done since leaving the iconic show.

Spoiler Alert: This article discusses major plot details from The Walking Dead.

What episode does Glenn die in The Walking Dead?

First, let’s get specific on Glenn’s death for anyone not caught up. This soul-crushing moment went down in the Season 7 premiere titled “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be,” with infamous villain Negan taking Glenn out. It aired way back in October 2016 but will forever live in infamy among Walking Dead fans.

How does Glenn die in The Walking Dead?

To recap Glenn’s horrific end real quick, the Season 7 opener picked things up right after Negan lined up Rick’s squad and threatened to Lucille (Lucille being his baseball bat) one of them. After a nasty round of “Eenie Meenie” mind games, he chose tough guy Abraham first and went to town bashing his head with Lucille in brutally. I mean, we see Abraham’s skull literally being pulverized as the others shriek and cry in horror just feet away. It was some intensely disturbing stuff right out the gate.

But Negan doesn’t stop there. When Daryl reacts by punching him, Negan decides to punish the group with a second killing. He turns to Glenn, who is forced to his knees next to his pregnant wife Maggie. As she wails helplessly, Negan taunts Glenn by making him say goodbye to her. Then he ruthlessly beats Glenn to death with Lucille in the same savage manner as Abraham. The camera does not shy away, making it some of the most graphic violence ever shown on The Walking Dead.

Many fans were outraged and disturbed by the level of brutality in this episode, sparking much debate about whether the show went too far. Combined with Abraham’s death, it left the premiere feeling sadistic and traumatic for devoted viewers of the series. Glenn’s murder completely shattered the hopeful, moral center of Rick’s group, setting the tone for a much darker season to come.

Who plays Glenn in The Walking Dead?

The actor behind Glenn Rhee was Steven Yeun, who had been with The Walking Dead in the core cast since literally the pilot episode. As a Korean-American, Yeun brought tons of empathy and honorability to Glenn as the moral compass trying to pull humanity from an apocalyptic nightmare.

Why did Steven Yeun leave The Walking Dead?

In an interview, Yeun explained, “I couldn’t be stuck servicing just a genial-natured guy for the rest of my career. On the inside, I didn’t feel that way. On the inside, I can be angry, I can be vengeful. I can be all the other things, and I wanted to explore those things for myself.”

While admitting Glenn’s death was still difficult, he said he did not put up a fight to stay on the show because he did not want to be limited to that one role.

What is Steven Yeun doing now?

In the years after his Walking Dead exit, Yeun chose to step back from Hollywood and reflect on the impact Glenn had. He made clear his desire for more complex roles — perhaps even villainous characters that would obliterate any remnants of the pure-hearted Glenn.

His first widely seen project was in 2017’s art house horror film Mayhem, where Yeun plays a disgruntled office worker who incites chaotic violence to get justice. He went on to critically acclaimed performances in the Korean psychological thriller Burning.

But Yeun’s most celebrated role has been in the 2020 film Minari, where he plays a Korean immigrant chasing the American dream in 1980s Arkansas. Yeun earned Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for bringing delicate emotional depth to the ambitious but flawed father striving to build a life for his family. After years in Glenn Rhee’s shadow, Minari cements Yeun as a lead actor able to compellingly carry a whole film with his talent and screen presence.

Now with Glenn six years behind him, Steven Yeun has proven his range extends far beyond the gentle-hearted pizza delivery boy that fans first fell in love with. No longer confined to being The Walking Dead’s moral center, Yeun has an exciting acting career ahead as audiences discover sides of him that Glenn could never show. Though the character remains one of the most vivid losses on the shows, Yeun himself has found an exciting new life moving forward.

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