With their latest mid-season finale, The Walking Dead proved that they’re still willing to kill off nearly anyone on the show, no matter how popular they may be. This time it was Carl Grimes who took a walker bite to the chest, dooming him to a slow death via infection. It was a pretty bold move for the show and a massive departure from the comics, where Carl continues to sneak out of the house and cause endless amounts of trouble to this day.
Actor Chandler Riggs talked about his character Carl’s impending death with The Hollywood Reporter and clarified a couple of points regarding how it all came to be. First off, it wasn’t his idea and it wasn’t the result of his decision to go to college. It was showrunner Scott Gimple that made the call, and Riggs learned about it in June as they worked through rehearsals for season eight’s episodes.
“It was devastating for me and my family because the show has been such a huge part of my life for so long,” he said. “For a few days, we didn’t know what to do … I decided that I wanted to not go to college for at least a year and move to L.A. and focus on acting and music. It ended up being a great thing because now I get to do all kinds of other stuff that I haven’t been able to do in the last eight years.”
Riggs laid out The Walking Dead producer’s reasoning for Carl’s death, but be warned: Chandler’s explanation involves serious spoilers for the comic that will probably also spoil how season 8 ends as well. So don’t keep reading unless you’re prepared for that.
In the comics, Rick eventually captures Negan but decides to keep him alive in a cell rather than execute him. According to Chandler, the show needed something really powerful to anchor Rick’s decision to let Negan live.
“Scott was trying to figure out how to bridge the gap between Rick not wanting to kill Negan and Rick also really wanting to kill Negan,” Riggs said. “Scott’s way to get around that was to make Carl this really humanitarian figure and a person who could see the good in people and see that people can change and not everyone out there is bad.”
“That’s what Carl’s talk to Rick was in this episode: there’s no way that they can kill every one of the Saviors and not everyone is a bad person and there has to be some way forward than just killing people.”
So it sounds like Carl’s death will inspire Rick to try and uphold his son’s vision for the future: one that includes hope and redemption and not immediately shooting anyone who may possibly pose a threat in the head. We imagine we’ll see that play out in February’s mid-season premiere, which Riggs confirmed will be the last episode he appears in. That’s too bad considering it leaves a lot of Carl’s Walking Dead comic adventures untold.
“I was excited to do a lot of those storylines in the comics because there’s a lot of really cool stuff,” he said. But Riggs sounds like a glass half full kind of guy. “I’m more excited to do other things than The Walking Dead than I was excited about doing those things on Walking Dead.”
(Via The Hollywood Reporter)