Of the many, many ways that The Walking Dead TV show has differed from the comic books, the death of Carl Grimes will undoubtedly go down as one of the biggest. Rick’s son has been a constant presence in the source material and it was truly a shock when Chandler Riggs’ character was revealed to have been munched on by a walker at the end of the midseason finale, ahead of his eventual passing in the following episode.
Executive producer Scott M. Gimple recently acknowledged the split from canon (Grimes Jr. is still alive in Robert Kirkman’s source material), too, and explained that the writers 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.
But it wasn’t only the audience who didn’t expect what was going to happen, as Riggs himself was also caught off guard. Speaking to a crowded panel the other week at Walker Stalker Con in Nashville, the actor said that not only did he not see it coming, but having to shoot that episode really sucked – and understandably so.
“The whole episode sucked in general. I still get to see all of the other castmates at these conventions and things like that. It did kind of suck moving away from the show but, honestly, it’s so awesome getting to do other roles and other things I haven’t been able to do before and not just being confined to one role. Being Carl was super, super fun but getting to do other things has been the most fun I’ve had in years.”
Though Rick’s son may be gone, The Walking Dead certainly isn’t. Production on the ninth season is currently underway – with set pics to prove it! – and it’s expected to air sometime in October. Though we imagine things will be very different when the show returns, what with both the aforementioned Grimes and Maggie set to be written out.