'Walking Dead' Season 3 finale: Who dies and who survives the showdown with the Governor?

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walking-dead-season-3-finale-andrew-lincoln-rick-grimes-amc.jpg"The Walking Dead" closes out a highly rated and creatively revived Season 3 Sunday night on AMC, and that means fans should prepare themselves for more shocking deaths.

[UPDATE: Read the Season 3 finale recap to find out who actually lived and died.]

So far this season, "Dead" fans have already said goodbye to Lori Grimes ( Sarah Wayne Callies), T-Dog ( IronE Singleton) and Merle Dixon ( Michael Rooker) in addition to less significant characters like prisoners Axel ( Lew Temple) and Oscar ( Vincent Ward).

Every single finale has seen some sort of death -- Jacqui, Sophia, Jimmy and Patricia (from Hershel's farm), and Oscar and Penny all died in either a season or midseason finale -- and with the Governor leading Woodbury into battle against the prison it's guaranteed this episode will be no exception. Andrew Lincoln already told Rolling Stone that 27 (!) people die in the finale.

RELATED: Look back at "The Walking Dead's" most shocking deaths

Trying to figure out who's most likely to die starts with deciding who to rule out. Do you really think they'd kill Rick? Now? Probably not. Daryl and Glenn are fan favorites who are almost certainly safe. Ditto Michonne and Maggie, at least for now. (After spending so much time on Rick mourning the loss of Lori, throwing Glenn or Maggie into that same situation would seem a bit repetitive.)

Tyreese is too new and too important from the comics to dispose of this quickly; while Carol has had so many reprieves and has turned her life around so much, that it would be heartless and maybe even anti-climactic to kill her off now (even though she's no longer alive in the comics). That doesn't mean it can't happen, but we're thinking they're both safe until next season. Same goes for Carl and Judith. (Kill the baby? Seriously?)

That leaves either a very short or a very long list of contenders, depending on how much you value the lives in Woodbury. Here's a look at who might be lucky to make it out of "The Walking Dead" Season 3 finale alive:

walking-dead-scott-wilson-emily-kinney-hershel-beth-season-3-amc.jpg Hershel (Scott Wilson): Well, for one, Hershel is shot in the head by the Governor when Woodbury attacks the prison in the comics. But would that make his death on the TV series too predictable? Executive producers Glen Mazzara and Robert Kirkman have admitted they planned to kill Hershel in the Season 2 finale, but let him live. Will he get lucky again?

Beth (Emily Kinney): If Hershel doesn't die, Beth could be the most expendable of the core group. She's lovely and has an even lovelier singing voice, but otherwise we don't know much about her. She's been showing off a tougher side lately and also pitching in to take care of Judith (plus the show keeps hinting at but never addressing Carl's obvious crush on her), so it feels like there's a lot more that could be explored if she survives to Season 4. But that potential didn't help T-Dog.

Milton (Dallas Roberts): Roberts isn't a full-time cast member but it feels like the show has only begun to scratch the surface of brainy and industrious researcher Milton. But he's pretty much proven he's not loyal to the Governor, and that's bad news. Plus, Roberts recently joined the cast of CBS' revived "Unforgettable." Not a good sign.

walking-dead-chad-coleman-sonequa-martin-green-tyreese-sasha-season-3-finale-amc.jpg Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green): Martin-Green has been pulling double duty this season on both "The Walking Dead" and "Once Upon a Time" (but she finished filming "Dead" before starting on "Once"). While it's unclear if her "Once" character will continue beyond this season, if that's even an option it would be bad news for Sasha. The show has only started to explore the sibling bond she shares with Tyreese, and frankly we'd like to see a lot more of it. But could her death be the motivation Tyreese needs to forsake the Governor and team up with Rick?

Allen (Daniel Thomas May): You know, the annoying jerk who fights with Tyreese? He's gotta be toast. His wife Donna died in the midseason finale nearly as soon as she was introduced, and his son Ben was just shot and killed by Merle in last week's episode. If Allen makes it through the finale alive, it would be a contender for biggest surprise of the night.

Everyone in Woodbury: Is the Governor leading his people into battle or on a mass suicide mission? (Keeping that finale body count of 27 in mind, the answer seems clear.) Of the Woodbury residents still completely aligned with the Governor (that excludes Milton, Andrea, Tyreese and Sasha), there's really only one notable person: Caesar Martinez ( Jose Pablo Cantillo). He bonded with Daryl a little bit in "Arrow on the Doorpost," but we don't expect him to survive the finale. Everyone else in Woodbury best run when they have the chance.

The Governor (David Morrissey): The biggest question mark about the season finale is whether or not it will wrap up the Governor's reign as the show's Big Bad, or if he'll somehow miraculously make it to Season 4. Morrissey's performance has been terrific this season, so we wouldn't mind if he stuck around. But the character is so loathsome, it would be incredibly satisfying to finally see him get some comeuppance (especially if it's delivered by Andrea and/or Michonne and/or Maggie). We think he's doomed, but maybe that's just what the producers want us to think.

walking-dead-laurie-holden-andrea-season-3-amc.jpg Andrea (Laurie Holden): Here's where the show really has a choice. There are many ways they could make Andrea's death work (especially if it somehow involves heroically taking out the Governor). And considering the backlash the character has received from some fans this season, her death wouldn't exactly enrage the base. But we're gonna say it right now -- Andrea shouldn't die. After being separated from her friends for so long, seeing her relationship with Michonne go down the drain, and falling for the Governor's creepy, manipulative and wholly deceptive charms, Andrea deserves a bit of relief. Now, "The Walking Dead" is a tough show and likes to prove how tough it is. Killing off Lori did that. But kill off your other female lead in the same season? You start to look perverse.

Andrea has been away from the main story for so long that it's possible her presence wouldn't be missed. But that's exactly why she deserves a chance to mend her fences and get back into the thick of the core group's battle for survival. If the show keeps Michonne, Maggie and Carol and beefs up Beth and/or Sasha, they will have several strong female characters. And if they really want to close the book on the Woodbury story completely, maybe Andrea's death simply falls in line. But sometimes the braver choice is to let a character live. Andrea has earned that much.

What do you think will happen in the finale? Will Andrea survive? How about the Governor? Will Morgan (Lennie James) make a surprise return? Or will the people of Woodbury join Rick's group in a chorus of "Kumbayah"?
Photo/Video credit: AMC