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Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal)
Death episode: "Better Angels"
How it happened: Rick and Shane faced off man-to-man after Rick realizes Shane has a plan to kill him. Rick tricks Shane into thinking he's giving up his gun and then stabs Shane in the heart. When Shane re-animates as a walker, it's Carl who puts him down by shooting him.
Shock factor: The whole season seemed to building up to a showdown between Rick and Shane, but the death was even less surprising because news of Bernthal's exit from the show leaked far before it happened on screen. First, due to his casting in Frank Darabont's TNT pilot "L.A. Noir" and then due to an accidental early release on AMC's website of the Season 2 DVD special features listing including the featurette "Shane's Last Episode."