The Walking Dead: Did that main character really have to die? (spoilers)

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Spoilers for previously aired episodes of The Walking Dead and TWD comics follow
We don’t have anyone on our writing team who is currently watching The Walking Dead. As I’ve mentioned I watched it up until mid season last season, caught the finale then I tried to pick it up again when it came back but ultimately gave up. I was frustrated with the way I perceived the showrunners were manipulating the viewers, by killing off major characters and by drawing out cliffhangers, which they repeatedly defended. So given the fact that no one on TWD is safe, was anyone surprised when it was revealed last episode that Carl Grimes, the teen son of leader Rick Grimes, was harboring a hidden zombie bite? There’s some speculation that Carl could come back from this, but actor Chandler Riggs says his character is doomed essentially. Incidentally this is a different plotline from Carl’s fate in the comics. Riggs did an exit interview with The Hollywood Reporter. While Carl’s death wasn’t his idea it sounds like he’s ok with leaving the show. Riggs started working on TWD when he was 11 and he’s 18 now and is headed to college. He’s currently taking a gap year before his studies. Here’s some of what he told THR, with more at the source.

“Yes, Carl is going to die,” Riggs tells The Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive interview. “There’s no way he can get back from that. His story is definitely coming to an end…”

Outside of killing off leading man Lincoln, this would be the biggest departure from the source material ever.

But before viewers scream for Carl, it’s worth noting that Riggs still has one episode left — episode 809, the 2018 midseason premiere…

You recently were accepted to college. Was it your decision to leave The Walking Dead?
I’m taking a gap year right now to focus on acting for a while. Leaving Walking Dead wasn’t my decision. It was all story-related. It made sense story-wise for it to happen for Rick and Michonne and all the other characters.

When did you find out?
I was planning on going to college until I found out. I found out when I was doing rehearsals for episode six back in June. It was quite the shocker for me, Andy and everyone because I don’t think anyone saw it coming. It’s definitely not a bad thing because it has been awesome being on the show, but now I get to go and do a lot of other stuff that I haven’t gotten to do before. Scott [Gimple] wanted to meet in person because it was such a big deal. We had just finished rehearsing for a scene in episode six and he wanted to meet with me and my mom and dad and talk about what’s going to happen.

You’re as big of a fan of the comics as anyone out there. How did you respond to Carl being killed off, especially considering that he’s still alive and kicking ass in the comics?
It was devastating for me and my family because the show has been such a huge part of my life for so long. For a few days, we didn’t know what to do; I just bought a house in Senoia [near where the show films in Georgia]. That was a big deal that I wouldn’t be on anymore. 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.

Any parting words you’d like to say to fans?
Thank you to all the fans for giving me a job for eight years and for giving me this amazing experience and blessing me with this career and this chance at having so much opportunity.

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

There’s much more in there about Carl’s story arc and where TWD will go from here. Overall I got the impression that Riggs is just grateful for the opportunity, he sounds very grounded, and that he’s rolling with this and making the best of it.

Carl was annoying for a while, several years ago, and he came back from that, repeatedly proved his worth to the community and was a valued member. If I was still invested in TWD I would be upset right now – I really liked Carl. In fact there are plenty of editorials about how this comes across as a unilateral decision by Gimple and that this is a bad move for the show. Does this feel like stunt killing to anyone else? I guess that pretty much describes the plot of TWD for the last couple of seasons though. You would think they would try to wrap it up at some point but they just keep throwing out spinoffs and crossovers. Viewership has dropped, but the ratings are still astronomically high and Gimple has said he intends to drag it out for twenty years or more. With him continuing to call all the shots, I presume. They had the perfect opportunity to set up Carl as the new leader but we know that’s not happening. I wonder if Gimple just didn’t want to work around Riggs’ college schedule.

After I wrote all that I found this story that Riggs’ dad wrote a Facebook post stating that Gimple misled his son about his future on TWD. He wrote “Watching Gimple fire my son 2 weeks before his 18th birthday after telling him they wanted him for the next 3 years was disappointing. I never trusted Gimple or AMC, but Chandler did. I know how much it hurt him. But we do absolutely know how lucky we have been to be a part of it all and appreciate all the love from fans all these years!” Damn, so things are even worse behind the scenes.

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AMC celebrates the 100th episode of 'The Walking Dead' - Arrivals

Photos credit: WENN and AMC

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87 Responses to “The Walking Dead: Did that main character really have to die? (spoilers)”

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  1. PIa says:

    Um, he sounds surprised, esp. considering his family bought a house in Georgia.

  2. babykitten says:

    The poor kid had just bought a house near where they film. Apparently Andrew Lincoln was pretty upset with this decision.

  3. Odetta says:

    If anybody is disappointed by the show, read the comic, it’s way better and you won’t be disappointed

  4. STRIPE says:

    I’m shocked it still has good ratings. It’s so predictable at this point because they’ve done the same thing over and over:
    Group wanders around the south running/hiding from zombies. They find another group of people and have a conflict with them (but don’t worry, Rick and Daryl will be fine) Rick’s group wins. When someone is finally happy they die or someone they love does. Repeat.
    Havent seen the show in years, am I close? ;)

    • InVain says:

      Yup. This show lost me a long time ago, however we still watch it because… because we hate watch it. I have never been able to stand Carl…but he has been more tolerable in the last season or two. Sounds to me like it was a surprise for all, which is just sh*tty to do to this kid. I figured they’d kill off Morgan since he’s transferring to FTWD.

    • babykitten says:

      Worse. Rick organized three communities to take out the Saviors. Rick’s gang showed up with armor, and loads of guns and ammunition. Negan waltzed out with all of his top enforcers, and gave a soliloquy in full view of the snipers. Rick and his crew proceeded to shoot out every window of the brick building that houses the Saviors. Then they went home. True story.

      And BTW, Negan beat Glenn and Abraham to death with a barbed wire covered baseball bat. Rick retaliated by breaking Negan’s windows.

    • Persistent Cat says:

      The last couple of seasons have improved immensely, probably the best of the entire run, in my opinion.

    • FlyLikeAbird says:

      The show is good if you skip the long speeches, tired monologues and tedious conversations about “what’s the right thing to do”. Unfortunately, that’s 70% of the show. So I only watch 15 minutes per episode and I’m happy with the story.lol

  5. Ellie says:

    They’ve killed off many of the original characters. At this rate I just don’t understand how it could possibly go on 20 more years.

  6. Steph says:

    I only watched the first and second season and then everything went downhill.

    • OnyxXV says:

      You had the right idea! The first and second seasons were by far the best, IMO. That was when Darabont was still involved. Once AMC got cheap and fired him and hired hacks as showrunners (i.e. Gimple), the show did go downhill. I’m still watching because I guess at this point I can’t not watch, even though after almost every episode I think “wow, that was bad.” But for some reason I continue to watch! This episode was no different. Long and boring and then at the very end, oh, Carl got bit! Just for shock value. I feel sorry for Chandler Riggs. That was a sh*tty thing for Gimple to do to him.

  7. launicaangelina says:

    Each season of TWD should only be 10 episodes long. They are so focused on quantity (number of episodes) so they have lost quality. I believe that’s why Netflix series are successful. Each season is short and average 10 episodes each. If I remember correctly, GOT has short seasons that are around 10-13 episodes.

    Ultimately, TWD loses all impact because the stories drag out and AMC seems to rely heavily on cliffhangers. I feel like most episodes are filler now and add tv time between deaths. It’s not effective or entertaining storytelling.

    Additionally, they need to have joy and hope in this world. That is the real reason to keep going on in the apocalypse, but this world is perpetual doom and gloom. If I were in this world, I am pretty sure I would have killed myself.

    • another kate says:

      THIS ^^^ The first season only had 6 episodes and I really wish they had stuck with that. You’re so right in that almost all the episodes are just filler now which makes the seasons draaaag.

    • Rachel says:

      If you take out all the commercials, you’d only have about three full episodes per season, so there you go. I don’t watch anymore, but I swear once AMC realized the cash cow they had, every episode was 3 minutes of show interrupted by 5 minutes of commercials, on a loop for an hour.

    • The Original G says:

      It’s just bad writing. Period. Check out X-Files on Netflix. They uses to do 24 episodes a season. It’s just crap writing. I agree with Rachel on the commercials. I went took stuff out of the dryer and folded, put stuff in the dryer and started a new load during one commercial break. You can’t have that kind of contempt for me and think I’ll still be interested. I do something else while it’s on now.

    • Franklymydear... says:

      So true! Last night’s episode was so painful…there is very little levity, humor, or light moments (except from Negan…gotta love JDM). Given the state of the world today, I don’t need to spend an hour a week watching our heroes get beaten over and over and over again. When Negan showed up, I decided to just start rooting for him. It’s the only way the show is any good. At least he’s funny.

      And why oh why did Rick go to the trash people all alone, threatening them that they’d better side with Rick or else?! More empty threats. I kept waiting for others to come support him, but nope. Trashy Bangs held him captive for what appeared to be several crucial hours (days?!) and then Rick finally got some gumption and beat up Trashy Bangs. They went with him to “defeat” Negan and then immediately deserted Rick when it was clear they had lost. Nonsensical!!! I just can’t with this show anymore. I think I’m done, and I’ve watched every episode. Carl is lucky to get out because I, too, would have killed myself in this world long ago.

      Sorry. Rant over!

  8. BobaFelty says:

    If they don’t like the actor, they could always have moved up the timeline a few years and replaced him with someone else. Instead, Gimple does what he always does…kills of a character during the mid-season or season finale, with boring episodes scattered between. I used to love this show, but gave up last year. They need a new show runner.

  9. Nancy says:

    I was surprised by his departure since his character is so prominent in the comic book. A few have said this is another Jon Snow and that he was bit by a Whisperer, at the same time they are introduced to the show and he could survive. It’s a big FU to the fans either way. With all that said, we still watch every week and I still love Daryl. Afterthought…..where is Maggie carrying her baby in her butt?? Woman has no baby bump, is it another surprise, she lost the baby and that’s why Gracie appeared? All conjecture since they’re so off the CB.

  10. Dorothy#1 says:

    I went into the ugly cry. Carl was just getting to be An amazing character. I’m sad by this but I’ll keep watching.

    • babykitten says:

      Carl was supposed to be John Connor and Gimple killed him off for a ratings ploy. They have already shown us that Rick cannot survive without Carl, and now they’ve killed Carl. Where is the character supposed to go now. He went absolutely crazy when Carl was threatened with rape, and then later when he almost died. More psycho crazed Rick is not interesting to me, and yet that’s where the character will rightfully go as written thus far.

    • Erinn says:

      I’m majorly bummed for him, and I don’t even really watch. My husband loves the show, though agrees that it’s not as good as it was – but he’s invested too much time at this point to care. But I did sit down and watch the episode with him where Carl was eating the pudding from the giant can … and I just felt protective of the kid. People gave him so much crap over the years – but it’s like they forget that he’s a kid living during apocalyptic times – he’s not going to always be sensible.

      But I’m really annoyed that they decided to kill him off- I assumed it had to be on Chandler’s terms – since he’s 18 and at college age. I figured it was a case of him wanting to try out ‘normal’ teen life for a while. I always assumed the show would be about Carl coming through to carry on the fight as kind of the successor to Rick – kind of lead people into the ‘new’ world or whatever. So it’s especially dumb that they just decided to kill him off.

      And two weeks before his birthday. COME ON. That’s majorly sucky.

      • babykitten says:

        Since the female characters are vastly superior to the males on this show, I’m now assuming Judith will be John Connor. Biologically Shane’s, and nurtured by Rick. Add in that she’s also being raised by “a weapon with a weapon”, and she may be the hope for the future.

  11. Lucy says:

    True story, I’ve never watched a single episode of this, yet I know pretty much everything that happens (thanks Twitter). I gotta say, this one hurts. Even more so knowing how everything happened behind the scenes. Chandler is very young, though, I’m sure he’ll find his own way. I wish him well!

  12. Allie B says:

    Honestly been waiting for him to be killed since Season 2. I hate his character lol. Good luck in life, kid.

  13. Sleepy says:

    If I cared about the show this season this characters death would probably sting just as much as Glen’s did-But I’m not invested in the show as much as I was years ago.

  14. CynicalAnn says:

    This show jumped the shark several seasons ago. I stopped watching because it was just a circle of sad/gore with no resolution. I never found Carl annoying-he was just a kid when the show started.

  15. rocky says:

    I hate this. Even more now that I know it wasn’t the actor’s choice.

  16. Veronica says:

    Glenn, to me, was the more egregious stunt killing, especially given where his character arc was and how ugly it went down, but that’s where the show has been for awhile. I lost interest in it after season 2. The only thing I’d really think it has going for it for me is Michonne, mainly because she’s a great character, but also because it’s so exceedingly rare to see a dark-skinned black woman with a very traditionally ethnic appearance be the romantic interest of the lead protagonist (and still have her own character development!).

    • babykitten says:

      Even though I hated Glenn’s death, at least it was faithful to the comic. But killing off a character that most saw as the hope and future was a dreadful decision. Even Andrew Lincoln said he always assumed that Rick was going to pass the torch to his son.

      I agree with the fact that Michonne is an awesome female hero, but I’ll add in Carol. When’s the last time a 50 year old petite woman was as good or better than the males of the group in fighting? Maggie’s also a seasoned fighter, and isn’t sitting out her pregnancy.

  17. Deedee says:

    I lost interest after all the stunt killing and the plot repetition. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.

  18. Eve says:

    Finally! Unfortunately, years late, thousands of dollars short. I gave up on the show for good.

    I stopped watching the show precisely because of this character’s shenanigans.

  19. momoffour says:

    I watched the show with my older teenage boys and husband for awhile- we loved it and it was a big bond. I stopped watching when Glen was killed bc it just pissed me off. This season i watched again bc i wanted to connect with my boys and now this. This show is so stupid. You can’t kill all the characters! For no reason except shock!

  20. babykitten says:

    The show way overdoes Negan’s juvenile potty humor and genital obsession, but some of his jokes really crack me up.

    After being told Maggie is dead, Negan sees her launching an attack and he’s outraged: The widows alive, guns ablazin!

    Then this last episode when Carl is broken and he tells Negan that Carl should be the one he kills. Negan is pissed when he realizes it was a setup, and yells at Carl he thought they were having a moment.

  21. JeanGray says:

    I had such high hopes for Carl. He survived a shot to the torso and lost an eye and still kept a somewhat positive and bad ass attitude where he could have allowed himself to wallow in self pity and negativity. He was raised and trained by the best. Both Rick and Shane and Carol as inspiration. I feel like unless they are pulling a fakeout and Carl ends up somehow being immune, this was a stupid move on the levels on stunt killing to compete with GoT’s shock deaths since those seem to get so much attention.
    It’s also stupid to do that to the character when at this point in the comics there should be a time jump, so if it was all about releasing Riggs, all they had tyo do was recast with an older actor anyway because a teen count play that role at this point so, wasted opportunity and stuffs.
    I was already on the fence about continuing to watch since the quality of the show has decreased, but now since they’ve butchered Carl’s character and storyline and with such a lame and disrespectful death to boot, I may finally just throw in the towel.

  22. klc says:

    I was a Walking Dead defender for so long but I just can’t anymore. I watch thinking it’s going to get better all the time.

    Killing Carl is a bad idea. Carl was the reason why Rick did what he needed to do. Rick doesn’t have the bond with Judith that he does with Carl.

  23. The Original G says:

    This show jumped the shark years ago. It’s long on commercials and short on plot movement. Maybe Carl’s departure will invigorate the story line, but I doubt it. This show has just gotten dull as dishwater and pompous as hell about it’self to boot.

  24. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I confess. I’ve been watching the show since the beginning. It can be an eye-rolling romp for sure these last few seasons. Scratch that, I’ve been eye-rolling for a long time – - Andrea? Shane? Omg those two were the worst. Anywho, the only reason I wasn’t surprised or shocked is because it’s been a long time coming. The gunshot, the eye, his annoying teenage angst and meanderings…given where the show is at and the cheesy way they’re trying to create this steady increase of momentum and climax, it’s a non-issue for me at this point. I want to scream at the writers to just shut up and tell a story without all the cheese whiz like cascading close-ups and ongoing ominous music. Get back to storytelling, and either kill off Negan or wipe his stupid grin off his face, give him some real lines and use him as actor, not as a villainous ornament… it’s frustrating.

  25. jequill says:

    At least he can finally have a decent haircut, hope next is Norman Reedus aha

  26. DesertReal says:

    ..so I guess Carl should’ve stayed in the house after all.

    *I have a Stay in the House Carl! t-shirt that I got at a comic con years ago that still makes me laugh after all this time.

  27. Mina says:

    I think it was a matter of having to kill one of the original cast, and Chandler Riggs was unfortunately the weak link. No matter what the writers say, the day they decide to kill Rick (with Andrew Lincoln being the best actor in that show too) or Daryl, the show is over. They don’t want to kill Carol or Maggie after they’ve become such strong women, and Michonne still has a lot to offer in terms of story and cast diversity. This is a show that thinks it needs to keep killing characters so people stay invested and know the stakes are high, but I think they are starting to stumble a little, because unlike a story like Game of Thrones, that has a clear path and endgame, a Zombie Apocalypse doesn’t. How can this story end without everyone dead, really?

  28. Persistent Cat says:

    I still enjoy the show a lot. It got a little painful the half season where everyone was separated and each episode just focused on a couple of characters (season 4?) but then it tightened up around season 6 and last season was great. This last half-season has been a little too drawn out but I think that’s because I can’t handle the stress anymore.

    I hated Carl for a long time but then the actor got older and less irritating and he stopped bugging me but this is the zombie apocalypse and people die. The whole final episode was a little ridiculous as there were so few zombies, despite the explosions and gun-fire. For a second I thought Michonne was going to die and I wasn’t ready for that.

    I don’t know why they let Maggie go. Negan wants her dead, you would think they would have taken her, rather than let her return home and rally the troops for one more onslaught. But they are all dumb so…..

    If I could choose one character to die, it’s definitely Eugene. He has a lot of blood on his hands right now and I don’t think I can forgive him.

  29. Aerohead21 says:

    Yeah I’ve watched up until the 4th or 5 episode. I just had to stop. All the back and forth, the same plot line, different villains, it got too old for me. And then they kill Carl. I wasn’t even watching. I happened to come across it in the news…bah! Really? So annoying.

  30. JoJo says:

    This was the absolute WORST move by Gimple. Much worse than even Glenn’s death. I really grew to love Carl. He was so believable as the skinny, angsty teenager growing up during the zombie apocalypse, and I was really looking forward to his story arc. This is the one and only time I’d be in favor of some kind of “stunt” where he lives. You know there’s going to be a storyline somewhere, at some point where certain people are immune to the virus, but I don’t think that’s going to happen for Carl.

    Gimple really seems like a complete d*** and an idiot, quite frankly, considering the terrible state of the show over the last few seasons. I used to adore it, primarily because of the core characters. Things changed after the prison and once they got to Alexandria. Now, all character development is gone in favor of ridiculous plots, bad editing and an extended cast that I’m not at all invested in. Not sure I’ll keep watching.

    • Nancy says:

      Pam wakes up to find Bobby alive in the shower…….after a season of him being dead, it was all a dream……..Dallas circa 1980 something?! We thought if a Whisperer bit him, he may live, but that would be such shit to pull on viewers. Everyone knew Jon Snow would come back on GoT, but poor Carl has met his fate…..it would be so romantic to have Enid go with him!!! Bye Enid.

  31. PoliteTia says:

    I stopped watching after the deaths of Glenn and Abraham, that was too much. I can’t sit through the death of Maggie. She is suppose to die before the baby is born!

  32. Pandy says:

    I have to admit that as a faithful viewer (don’t read the comics), I am getting impatient with the show this season. I’m getting tired of the Negan story. Too much brutality/thuggishness. While I’m sure it’s not an unrealistic depiction of post apocalyptic society, I kind of miss just surviving and killing zombie hordes. It’s getting too grim for me.

    Having said that – Chandler announced he was college bound. Why wouldn’t he be killed off? I’m assuming he will sent back to the village to wreak havoc as a zombie?

    Anyway. I’m starting to see an ending to my slavish devotion to the show.

  33. IMUCU says:

    Story is great, but Gimple’s storytelling is so awful. It’s gone downhill ever since he took over. I keep watching because I used to love this show and was willing to tolerate what he was doing, but this season has really been the worst of all of them in regards to storytelling. I don’t typically get invested in tv shows, but because I did with this one, it actually makes me sad and annoyed to see what Gimple has done to TWD. The show really jumped the shark with the introduction of the trash/dump people and now it’s racing towards its grave.

  34. reverie says:

    Carl had more story development than any OTHER CHARACTER on the entire show. To kill him off was not only stupid but it severely limits what can be done in the future. To turn him into some sort of martyr now who prompts Rick to save Negan’s life is ridiculous… and that is exactly how this is going to pan out. Just absolutely ridiculous.

    It was such a good show.

    Rigg’s killed it in the episode though. I thought he did so well! I’m glad he gave it his all and then wrapped it all up with a classy address to the fans. The kid is amazing.

  35. Maum says:

    CORAL!!!!!!

    This show has gone so bad. I used to love it and some of the deaths (Herschel, anyone?) were heartbreaking.
    Now we get too many annoying new characters (Tara, anyone?) and a tedious repetitve plotline.

    What’s the point of having the boring Trash people? And what about 6 episodes of random characters going round seemingly stealing or destroying all the Saviours weapons and killing everyone in the outposts. Then after it looks like Negan is cowering with about 4 henchmen and a panicked group of useless workers left Eugene magically a. gets Negan out and b. somehow resurrects his whole army so that they can unobserved retake Hilltop, Alexandria and the Kingdom in one go without any resistance?
    It’s laughable.
    And then they let Maggie go? (or do they? They go on and on so much I zone out listening to them. I’ve completely given up on Eugene- I just don’t understand what the hell he is talking about).
    The plot is just absurd- why did Daryl and Tara just leave after the wall breach- shouldn’t they, I don’t know, TRY TO FINISH NEGAN OFF??????
    Shouldn’t there be more of them waiting with guns?
    WHY WASN’T CAROL THERE BLOWING SHIT UP?

    I still hate-watch this show but in the background while reading/FBing etc.
    Killing Glenn with such a shit cliffhanger was the worst decision.
    And banking on Negan as a baddie is a terrible move. The actor is tedious, the character’s juvenile dick humour is tedious, and there is no way he wouldn’t have been killed already. He’s not threatening enough to keep his position in his own group, let alone take over other settlements.

    And breathe……

  36. Addison says:

    This is pretty bad then. If they are pulling these stunts. It’s really stupid because the book is just such a fantastic story. I have only been annoyed once by a new character just recently introduced. The girl with the pink jacket. But my brother has a theory about this so I think that if it plays out the way he thinks or maybe he has heard rumors it will all end up fine in the end. But I regret that these people ever got ahold of this story. They are trashing it along with the stupid people at the dump. Is it believable that people would act this way if the end of the world came. Really stupid.

    It really sucks that since he thought he would be there for at least 3 more years he bought a house and then BAM!

  37. SolitaryAngel says:

    I was an AVID fan of this show…to the point that I muted the phone for TWD hour and God help you if you talked during it. That ended when Glenn’s cliffhanger dumpster not-death happened. I was truly devastated. Then he was alive!! Yay! Then the end of that season, yet ANOTHER cliffhanger? I tried to avoid spoilers over the summer but it got leaked that the two people Negan killed were Glenn & Abraham. I QUIT. That was it. I couldn’t take any more. I sorta miss the show but Gimple is still pulling this crap?? Wow….