The Walking Dead fans were crushed when Carl Grimes was killed off halfway through season 8. The teen survivor was a huge part of the show, as we’d literally seen him grow up on screen. If you remember, some folks were so enraged that they even called for AMC to reverse the decision and bring Carl back to life, after he was bitten by a walker.
The bitterness towards the loss of the character wasn’t helped by comments made by actor Chandler Riggs’ dad on social media, either, which made it clear that he wasn’t happy that the writers had decided to write his son out of the hit series. His comments were quickly deleted though and the matter hasn’t really surfaced again since…until now.
This weekend, William Riggs decided to set things straight in a post on his Facebook page, in which he makes clear that his son didn’t plan to leave so soon and it was showrunner Scott Gimple’s decision to kill off Carl. In fact, it seems Riggs’ gripe with how the exit was handled was that his son had just built his whole life around working on The Walking Dead for the foreseeable future, including buying a house and enrolling in the closest university.
“Just to clarify once and for all: Chandler didn’t want to leave the show. He had been accepted at [Universiy of Georgia], and would complete school while working (online when filming) as he had done high school for the last 8 years. Scott Gimple personally called him and said on a conference call in April that they needed him for 3 years. Chandler agreed to a 2 year contract, which was typical. 1 year guaranteed and the next one at their option, which was also typical. He signed the deal, graduated from high school and went back to work. He bought a house near the set and enrolled at UGA so that he could be close to work since we had been commuting nearly 2 hours each way all these years.
Continuing on, he wrote:
It was the middle of June, his 18th birthday was coming up in a couple of weeks, 5 episodes were filmed, and they asked for my wife and I to both be at a meeting with Chandler- which was a little odd. It made me nervous but he and his manager assured me it was to plan for filming schedule, etc. Scott Gimple was the only one there and he told us that Carl would be gone in a few episodes. Chandler was absolutely devastated. I was disappointed Scott had been dishonest with a 17 year old making life decisions and waited to tell us. After it aired, I was asked to comment on how I felt. I did, maybe shouldn’t have. 3 hours later AMC asked me to take the comment down- which I did- 6 hours later TMZ called and wanted me on and I declined.
None of it has ever really been about me. Don’t know why anyone would say anything about me- but that’s ok- teaching Chandler to disregard negativity came with the deal so I can do it too lol. I never made it difficult for my son, our family had to work together to make it possible for him. Extremely grateful for the opportunity and 8 great years; as a parent I felt Chandler had earned better treatment, but that’s the biz. Unkind timing.”
Now that we know the full story, you can certainly sympathize with Riggs’ feelings on the ordeal, as this must’ve come as a huge blow to his son as he clearly believed he was a long-term player on the show. I guess, in Gimple’s defense, the writers hadn’t conceived of the Carl twist when Chandler Riggs signed his contract and they had to stick with what they believed was the right direction for the story, even if it did inconvenience the teen actor.
At least there doesn’t seem to be any grudges for the young star, as he’s since reflected that he’s pleased with how his character left the series. Of course, a year later, his on-screen father Andrew Lincoln also exited the show – though only in order to star in his own movie trilogy. Maybe Riggs will get the chance to reprise his role in one of those, in a flashback or hallucination scene?
Time will tell, but in the meantime, be sure to catch The Walking Dead season 9 Sundays on AMC.