(Warning: this article includes spoilers for The Walking Dead season 8’s midseason finale “How It’s Gotta Be”.) The Walking Dead has sure given its fans a lot to mull over until season 8 returns from its midseason break. With last night’s midseason finale, AMC’s The Walking Dead did what many saw as the unthinkable: by revealing that Carl Grimes (played by Chandler Riggs) has a walker bite, the series has effectively killed off one of its few remaining original season 1 characters.
The reveal has been labeled one of The Walking Dead’s boldest moves ever. Notably, Carl Grimes does not die (yet) in the comics and is still alive in well in Robert Kirkman’s original storyline. Andrew Lincoln, the actor who plays Carl’s father Rick Grimes on the show, spoke to Entertainment Weekly about what Carl’s death will mean for the show.
“[Glenn’s death] was so radical, but this — with the repercussions of it and what it means to lose a boy — to lose this significant character from the comic books is an extraordinary call,” the actor said. “I mean it’s incredibly courageous and I have to commend AMC and Scott, and the writers for making the most daring call they could possibly have made.”
Lincoln later went on to say that watching Chandler Riggs grow as an actor has been “one of the great gifts of my career.” Many speculated that Riggs was itching to move on from The Walking Dead and go away to college, causing the showrunners to write him off the show. But the actor has corrected the record and said that it wasn’t his decision to leave the series.
“I’m taking a gap year right now to focus on acting for a while,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “Leaving Walking Dead wasn’t my decision. It was all story related.” The actor insisted that Carl’s death “serves a good purpose in the story.”
But since the episode has aired, Rigg’s own father has come out and expressed his frustration with The Walking Dead’s decision to write Chandler off the show in a public Facebook post that has now gone viral. AMC has not commented on the post or The Walking Dead’s decision to kill Carl.
Killing off Carl Grimes comes at an interesting point in the show’s run on television. The Walking Dead is currently in its worst rating slump yet, and its viewership ratings have continually dropped as this season has gone on. It remains to be seen if this narrative move with Carl will pull in more viewers or drive even more away due to its shocking nature.
The Walking Dead returns from its midseason break with new episodes on Sunday, February 25 at 9pm EST on AMC.