Working as an actor on The Walking Dead means never knowing for sure whether your character is going to make it through an episode, and that apparently applies to everyone all the way up to anchor stars like Chandler Riggs, who played Carl Grimes on the series. Carl was killed off to the outrage of fans (and his real non-TV dad) leading into the back half of season 8, and Riggs walked us all through the roller-coaster of emotions he felt as he realized his run on the show was over.
“I found out when we got the script for episode six, when [the bite] was supposed to happen,” Riggs said during his Fandemic Tour appearance in Sacramento (via ComicBook.com). “We were doing rehearsals for it and then after the rehearsals, [showrunner] Scott Gimple brought me in and then told me. He said ‘That’s why you kind of act weird after you trip, because [the bite] happens.’”
It was a pretty anti-climactic way to go, taken out by a random bite from a random walker. The Walking Dead followers continue to grumble about Carl dying from such a non-event, and it sounds like Chandler agreed at first … until he read the script for his actual death scene, which occurs in the chaos of Alexandria being destroyed.
“I’m gonna be honest, when Scott told me how it happened, he didn’t mention the whole ‘Saviors blowing up all of Alexandria’ thing,” he said. “He just kind of said I went to hide in the sewers and die. I was like ‘Man, that does not sound cool at all!’ But then I read episode eight, and I was like ‘Oh okay, there’s huge explosions, there’s solar panels being blown up, churches blown up, houses exploding!’ I was like ‘Okay, that’s pretty cool, I’m satisfied.’”
That’s not to say everyone is okay with how all that went down. Rabid fans got together and started a massive petition to have Scott Gimple ousted as showrunner. It worked, but not in the way they expected – Gimple was promoted to oversee the entire Walking Dead television universe soon after.
Carl’s death was also one of the big reasons show lead Andrew Lincoln cited when his decision to leave in the upcoming season 9 leaked. What purpose did his character Rick have without his son Carl around to protect, he argued? Just a little more collateral damage Chandler Riggs can tack on and appreciate regarding his death on the show.