Few shows are able to generate the level of hype and excitement that The Walking Dead can, and fewer still are able to maintain that impassioned following for eight years.
And while Sunday’s midseason premiere posted less-than-stellar ratings among key demographics – a series low, in fact – The Walking Dead continues to be one of the biggest shows on television. But that level of fame comes with problems of its own.
For instance, how do you keep the death of a major character – like, say, Carl Grimes – out of the public eye? That very question was posed to outgoing Walking Dead star Chandler Riggs at a recent conference call (h/t Cinema Blend), to which he replied:
Nobody knew it at the time, because it didn’t explicitly say it in the script that I got bit. So it was really just kind of like me and a few crew members. It was kinda weird filming that scene. But I’m definitely happy with how it all turned out.
It’s not unusual for a television series of The Walking Dead‘s caliber to keep secrets from its cast and crew – just look at HBO’s ongoing Game of Thrones.
But when it comes to Carl’s death, in particular, executive producer Scott M. Gimple recently acknowledged the split from canon (Grimes Jr. is still alive in Robert Kirkman’s source material), and how AMC’s creators intentionally crafted a version of events that would surprise even those familiar with The Walking Dead comics.
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.
Carl Grimes is no more, but The Walking Dead lives on. And it’ll return to our screens this Sunday with “The Lost and the Plunderers.”