The Walking Dead has killed off a whole bunch of characters by this point in Season 9, and a great many fans are expecting another very big death to take place sooner rather than later. One of the biggest deaths of the entire series happened when Negan beat Glenn to death with Lucille. It was straight out the pages of the comics and many fans saw it coming, but the brutality was still shocking to behold.
Sadly, Glenn’s death meant the departure of actor Steven Yeun, who was recently quoted as saying that he had no interest in reprising his role in the future. Now, Yeun has clarified his stance on whether or not he’d play Glenn again, saying this:
That was a very aggressively quoted version of what I said from that thing. I think I was just kind of saying, I don’t want to go back to young Glenn. Not only could I not do that physically, I don’t look like the kid that I started as at 25. But also, mentally, that character was just such in a different place that for me to go back there, I think it would be not good for anyone.
From a practical standpoint, Steven Yeun at age 34 can’t pass for Steven Yeun at age 25, when he swooned on set. Other actors — including Andrew Lincoln and possibly Jon Bernthal in Season 9 — played flashback versions of themselves for the show, but filming a flashback to young Glenn is apparently not something that Yeun is interested in. That Glenn was long gone anyway by the time he was killed by Negan. It would be downright strange to see Yeun try to play Glenn the pizza man again.
From a personal standpoint, Steven Yeun’s life has changed a great deal since he wrapped his time as a regular on The Walking Dead. After leaving the show, he got married and had a child. He was in a different place in life when he played Glenn. There’s nothing wrong with moving on, and there are only so many ways The Walking Dead can bring people back. His comments on Larry King Now are perfectly understandable.
In fact, the only ways actors on The Walking Dead can really reprise their roles after their characters were killed off are via zombification, dream sequence, flashback, or hallucination. Glenn is dead and buried, so he’s not coming back as a zombie, and Steven Yeun doesn’t seem especially interested in a flashback.
It would be nice if the show brought him back to reunite with Maggie and perhaps meet baby Herschel via a dream sequence. Maybe Steven Yeun would be willing to make a cameo. He has been open that he’s still in touch with his friends in the cast. Stranger things have happened. He did previously state that he’d be open to returning if it made sense, but that was more than a year ago.
Steven Yeun has weighed in on why he believes people were so outraged at Glenn’s death, especially considering anybody who did a little bit of research could probably guess that he would be the one on the receiving end of Lucille. According to him, it wasn’t the gore, as The Walking Dead has delivered plenty of gore in the past without necessarily traumatizing viewers.
No, Steven Yeun believes that what outraged viewers was that Glenn’s death just kept going even after it was clear that Glenn had to be dead. Negan just kept on beating Glenn, and it was horrifying to watch. Killing off one of the original members of the series (and one of the few then-survivors of the Atlanta group) in such a brutal and ugly way did rub a lot of people the wrong way. Did the manner of his death contribute to the ratings slump of recent years?
The actor also opened up about some of what frustrated him about playing Glenn for all those years until leaving following the Season 7 premiere. Steven Yeun shared that he believed some people at the show didn’t really know what to do with the character and “didn’t acknowledge the connection people had with the character until he was gone.”
He went on to elaborate that he felt Glenn never really got to fly solo in stories. It’s certainly true that Glenn was often a supporting player, frequently as the runner for various chores or the type of guy who could be lowered down into a zombie well. While he did eventually come into his own in certain ways — and the show pulled more than one death fake-out with him — he didn’t necessarily get the focus he deserved.
All of this said, Steven Yeun hasn’t shared any regrets about his part in the series. The Walking Dead certainly turned him into a household name. Before landing the role in the zombie apocalypse, his most notable credit was an appearance on a single episode of The Big Bang Theory. He still appears as a guest at conventions and has fun interactions with fans, including an instance in which he hilariously “revealed” what he would have wanted on Glenn’s headstone.
Steven Yeun did confess that he doesn’t watch The Walking Dead anymore, but he’s also been very busy, and apparently he’s caught “some episodes here and there” since leaving. He’s not the only Walking Dead vet who no longer watches. He believes it’s more important to maintain his friendships with the cast than watch every single episode, and they apparently keep him updated. If he doesn’t return to the show, hopefully he’ll still be able to keep up with his pals.
If you’re still watching The Walking Dead (and therefore aren’t part of the huge ratings slump in Season 9), you can find new episodes on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC, followed by new episodes of Fear the Walking Dead with the reinstated Chris Hardwick. If zombies aren’t always your thing, there are many other viewing options, and you can find some details on our fall TV premiere schedule.