Since appearing in the very first episode of the popular zombie apocalypse show back in 2010, Chandler Riggs' character has become a focal point of the world based on Robert Kirkman's comic series. After being bitten in the first half of season 8, fans knew that Carl's days were numbered, but the mideseason premiere did the unthinkable and saw the long-standing chracter shufffle off to an early grave.
Speaking to TV Line, Gimple opened up about why he decided to end Riggs' time on the show and kill off one of the last remaining original characters:
"We wanted to tell a version of the comic story that kept emotions similar to what you’d get when reading the [source material] but in different ways, so that the comic-book-reading audience didn’t expect what was going to happen. We plan to do that moving forward as well — sometimes pulling moments from the book in sort of verbatim ways and sometimes in ways that are very different, with the goal of heightening the message in some way. Carl’s death fell into that [category]. This in many ways is sort of the ending of an era for The Walking Dead and the starting of a new one."
Kirkman had even teased that Carl might somehow survive his brush with death, but we were under no illusion that Carl was going to make it out alive when the show returned on February 26. Executive producer Greg Nicotero had promised an emotional farewell, so at least The Walking Dead managed to deliver on that part of the deal. However, it still won't take away the taste in some viewers' mouths that we have been wronged by killing off a character that seemed to key to the show.
Given that Carl has a major part in the comics - and is still alive in the current Issue #176 - Gimple's decision to kill him off not only came as a shock, but threw a spanner in the works of the show. Angela Kang is taking over the reins as a new showrunner in season 9, so she will ultimately have to pick up the pieces, however, fans are promised that Carl's comic book storyline will continue with other characters.
Over the years, there have been many huge deaths on the show, but Carl's will ultimately hit us harder than most. Alongside Lori, Glenn, Abraham, and Sasha, the death of such an important character is expected to have a long-lasting effect on the show. However, with Carl's demise being so divisive, there will always be those who disagree with Gimple's decision. Alongside the actor himself, co-stars like Danai Gurira have been outspoken on the curveball twist, while Gimple and even Kirkman have been left to defend their actions.
Riggs has grown up alongside the show, so many feel that we will now be missing a big part of Walking Dead. The same with killing off any original character, there will be a big loss, however, the decision at least emphasizes the notion that no one is safe on the hit show. Agreeing with Gimple's words, The Walking Dead now enters a bold new chapter after Carl's death, and as Gimple promises more changes from the comics for the rest of season 8, who knows who is next to feel the wrath of his ax?
Source: TV Line