Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Fear the Walking Dead
The latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead season 4, "Good Out Here," shocked fans by killing off a main character who has been around since the very beginning: Nick Clark, who is played by Frank Dillane. However, showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg have explained that Nick's exit had been planned since season 3, and was requested by Dillane so that he could "pursue other opportunities."
This season of Fear The Walking Dead has jumped forward in time in order to cross over with parent show The Walking Dead, whose season 8 finale handed Morgan over to the spinoff series. Nick and Morgan had actually been bonding in "Good Out Here," with Morgan offering to show Nick a less violent path - even giving him the book that his former mentor had given to him, "The Art of Peace." Unfortunately, before Nick could be given a chance to learn from Morgan, violence found him. Charlie, the little girl who acted as a spy for season 4 antagonists the Vultures, snuck up on Nick and shot him. He died of blood loss not long afterwards, with his sister and other members of the group at his side.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Chambliss explained that Nick's death had been on the cards for some time, since Dillane approached the producers and network during the previous season.
"It actually goes back to season three, before Ian and I even came aboard. Frank Dillane had asked the producers and AMC if he could leave the show, because he wanted to pursue other opportunities. One of the first things we were tasked with when we came on to run season four was to really find a story that would give Nick a fitting sendoff. He's been with the show from day one, so it was very important to us and to Frank to find a death for him that was emotional and one that would ripple forward throughout the storytelling."
It's worth noting that even though Nick has been killed off in the present day timeline, this won't be the last we see of him in the series. Because of the time jump, a considerable amount of this season is being spent in flashbacks to explain what happened in between the season 3 finale and the group meeting up with Morgan in season 4. Goldberg offered his assurances that there's still plenty of Nick's story left to explore:
"It's safe to say that there's a lot more story to tell with Nick. We understand, to a certain degree, why he's so driven and why he's so violent toward Ennis in this episode. We kind of see the buttons Ennis pushes in him, whether it's the fact that Nick essentially lost Charlie to this other family, the Vultures. He taunted Nick about keeping his family fed, playing on Nick's feelings of failure about the crops dying. There's more story to be told with Nick that we think will provide some emotional context for why he's such a different person when we find him in the present day story, than how we've seen him in the Diamond."
Nick also may not be the only member of the Clark family to die this season, since we still don't know Madison's whereabouts in the present day timeline. Assuming that Madison isn't dead, and that Alicia and Nick were trying to find her, that means she's going to have some difficult news to deal with if and when she returns in the present day timeline.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter