Carl Grimes was the future of The Walking Dead. Don’t believe me? (Spoilers Ahead!) Carl’s death was also the biggest error in the writing of the series. Still don’t believe me?
Chandler Riggs, who portrayed Carl for 8 seasons didn’t want to leave and Carl Grimes was never supposed to die.
The Source Material
The Walking Dead comic book creator, Robert Kirkman, surprised readers this year when he abruptly ended the book at number 183. The book follows Rick Grimes’ story. However, as Rick aged and became disabled, it was clear that Carl was the future of book and even took on more focus with time. After Rick’s death in the comics, Carl was the focus and the future. Ultimately, in the final book, it was clear that Carl was the central character and gave credit to Rick’s legacy. Carl’s ability to now live and grow up in a civilized world was Rick’s ultimate achievement.
As well, the current story lines on The Walking Dead, the Whisperers, Lydia, and the future story line, with the Commonwealth, all find Carl as the central character in the comics. Henry took on Carl’s story with Lydia on the show. Judith took on Carl’s story with the relationship with Negan. And, who knows who will take on the story line with the Commonwealth now that both Carl and Rick are no longer on the show.
The Show’s Material
Season 8 saw the death of Carl Grimes after he was bitten in the side while protecting Saddiq (Avi Nash). Yes, the episodes with his passing were difficult to watch. The mourning of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) was gut wrenching. Additionally, watching other characters mourn was equally difficult. However, it didn’t make his death and the timing of his death right in the minds of viewers and for the purpose of telling the overall story of The Walking Dead.
Remember when Lori died? Remember Rick post-Lori? He was a freaking disaster. The impact of Carl’s death did not appear to impact him nearly as it did when Lori died.
Over the course of 8 seasons, Carl’s safety and well-being were the focus for Rick. He wanted to build a future for his son. How many countless times did other individuals sacrifice for Carl? Yes, Judith was also alive, but Carl was the future leader and he was learning from his father how to do so.
Carl’s death served absolutely no purpose on the show. Carl sacrificed for Siddiq’s safety and Siddiq is now dead. Saddiq was a doctor and did do some positive things but did it really move the story along further or change the world?
The show seemed to force the perspective that his death would somehow create a truce between Rick and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and their respective groups. However, it didn’t, as it still resulted in fighting.
So what is Carl’s legacy? Maybe the only thing is that he saved Siddiq so Siddiq could father a child. Does that child become something special to the world of The Walking Dead? If so, there is absolutely no emphasis on the child. And, it’s going to take a really long time to develop that story.
Chandler Riggs didn’t want to leave The Walking Dead. Between statements made by Chandler and those made by his father, Will Riggs, it was clear that Chandler did not want to leave. Rumors and accusations of contract disputes, money, and other terms abound. However, it is curious the timing of his contract with his death.
There have been clear, defining moments on The Walking Dead where viewers stopped watching in large chunks: the deaths of Abraham and Glenn, the death of Carl, and the departure of Rick Grimes. These moments are always telling, as they signal viewers’ displeasure in the show, which is the greatest evidence of if the creatives got the story right. Carl Grimes didn’t have to die. Chandler Riggs didn’t have to leave. And, The Walking Dead would be in a better place right now with him on the show.