The Walking Dead co-creator Robert Kirkman has defended the impending demise of Chandler Riggs' Carl Grimes on the TV series, indicating that it's all part of an emotional long-term journey for his father Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his allies.
Carl's death is a deviation from the books, where he helped fight off Negan's Saviors before helping Rick's crew stave off the Whisperers. This is why so many fans were up in arms after the Season 8 midseason finale showed he was bitten by walkers, which in this show is a near-certain death sentence. Showrunner Scott Gimple even came in for flak from the actor's father, but Kirkman told Entertainment Weekly that all this backlash meant that people cared for the character, one of the few remaining from the debut season.
“I think Scott first brought it up to me as a possibility probably about a year ago at this point,” Kirkman, an executive producer on the show, said. “At first, I was kind of like, ‘Well, that’s a big one, you know?’ I might have had a little bit of trepidation. But once he laid out to me exactly what his long-term plans were, and the things that come out of it, and the things that it leads to, it was something I got on board with.”
“I know that some fans online have been very upset, but that’s by design,” he added. “We’re not supposed to be happy when these characters die. We are supposed to be worried about what comes next, and anticipating what comes next, and stressing about what comes next. That just shows that you’re engaged and you’re interested. Our job is to now pay that off and fulfill that interest, and prove that this was a decision worth making. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
The Walking Dead returns Feb. 25 at 9 p.m. on AMC. The show stars Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler, Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter, Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan.