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.
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.
Photos credit: WENN and AMC