The Walking Dead ended its midseason finale with a shocking twist, as it was revealed that Chandler Riggs‘ character Carl had been bitten by a walker. In the show’s lore, this generally means an imminent death, so Carl’s bite came as a shock. Carl is one of the five remaining original cast members, along with Andrew Lincoln, who plays Carl’s father Rick Grimes. When showrunner Scott Gimple called Lincoln to share the news of Carl’s death, the actor said he was shocked.

“I never saw it coming because I always thought that the kid would be the future, and that was the whole point of this – that I was going to hand over the revolver and let him walk off into the distance, you know?” Lincoln said. “So it was incredibly shocking.”

Another person who was disappointed with the choice was Riggs’ father, William Riggs. In a now-deleted Facebook comment, Riggs said, “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!”

The actor himself says the move was “devastating,” in an interview with EW. He was told back in June that his character would die this season, in episode 9. According to Riggs, despite the departure from the comics, Gimple’s choice to kill of Carl makes some sense. “His reasoning behind it was that in the comics after All-Out War, Negan gets taken prisoner, so to figure out a way to make Rick not want to kill Negan would be to have Carl see things from a different perspective and try to push those ideals onto Rick,” Riggs explains. “That was kind of touched on in the flashback where Carl is talking to Rick about how they can’t kill every one of the Saviors and not everyone is a bad person. Because even Carl has grown so much over the past eight seasons and evolved into this whole new person — especially from seasons 3 and 4 where he was this coldblooded murderer to now this person who can see the good light in other people. I think episode 9 is really going to focus on Carl trying to teach Rick as much as he can about what he has learned and show him that people can change.”

Riggs also adds that filming with the rest of the cast and crew has been weird, considering his character’s imminent death. “It was really weird, especially because once the script came out, everybody was treating me like I was actually getting killed. Everyone was like, ‘Are you okay?’ And I’d be like, ‘Yeah, I’m totally fine. I’m moving out to L.A. in a month. It’s actually awesome!’ So it was weird, but everybody was really nice and we had a death dinner,” Riggs said.

Gimple has responded to the announcement as well, and shares that the show is still committed to following the storylines of the comics. “Yes, it’s going to be different. And yes, Negan’s relationship to Carl was a big part of the story moving forward, especially in the world changes we see early on. But, as usual, we do plan on telling those comic stories,” he said. “It just will have to be with different people and it’s a different way to tell those same stories. But we hope to still fulfill what those stories do.”

Riggs’ last episode will be the midseason premiere on Feb. 26.


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