This was not his idea. He never thought his character would die. And he *is* dying. This is not a drill.

SPOILERS AHEAD from "The Walking Dead" Season 8 midseason finale, which aired Sunday, Dec. 10.

Carl Grimes is dying, and we'll probably see his actual death in "The Walking Dead" Season 8 midseason premiere in 2018. He's not immune to walker bites, despite that theory. It's not clear how long he's been living with this bite, and why he hasn't died and turned yet, when it seems to have at the very least been ... a few hours? How long does it take to turn nowadays?

Anyway, actor Chandler Riggs is 18, and there was speculation that maybe he wanted to leave the show to go to college and do other things. But that's not the case. As he told The Hollywood Reporter:

"I'm taking a gap year right now to focus on acting for a while. Leaving Walking Dead wasn't my decision. It was all story related. It made sense story-wise for it to happen for Rick and Michonne and all the other characters."

He was as surprised as anyone when "The Walking Dead" showrunner Scott M. Gimple called him in June when he was doing rehearsals for Season 8, Episode 6.

"It was quite the shocker for me, Andy [Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes] and everyone because I don't think anyone saw it coming. It's definitely not a bad thing because it has been awesome being on the show but now I get to go and do a lot of other stuff that I haven't gotten to do before. Scott wanted to meet in person because it was such a big deal. We had just finished rehearsing for a scene in episode six and he wanted to meet with me and my mom and dad and talk about what's going to happen."

We think of the characters when watching the show, but on a practical level, being killed off out of nowhere really affected the star's life. He just bought a house! Here's more from Chandler Riggs to the Hollywood Reporter:

"It was devastating for me and my family because the show has been such a huge part of my life for so long. For a few days, we didn't know what to do; I just bought a house in Senoia [near where the show films in Georgia]. That was a big deal that I wouldn't be on anymore. I decided that I wanted to not go to college for at least a year and move to L.A. and focus on acting and music. It ended up being a great thing because now I get to do all kinds of other stuff that I haven't been able to do in the last eight years."

Apparently Chandler Riggs' dad William Riggs wasn't happy about what happened, sharing a comment on Facebook blasting Gimple and AMC:

The choice to kill Carl marks a major departure from Robert Kirkman's ongoing "The Walking Dead" comic book series. THR asked Riggs if he was surprised they decided to kill Carl rather than have him live at Hilltop as in the comics:

"I didn't expect for Carl to ever get killed off. But it serves a good purpose in the story. There's still a little more left in Carl's story — in episode nine [the midseason premiere in 2018] — and that impacts Rick, Michonne and everyone. Although Carl's story is coming to an end it's not over yet."

Scott Gimple's reasoning for killing Carl, Riggs said, was the spoilers ahead on how All Out War ends. Apparently the showrunner wanted to come up with a reason why Rick Grimes changes his mind of how to resolve the situation. Comic book readers know what's ahead, and apparently Carl's storyline is meant to tie into Rick's decision on what to do -- or not to do, as the case becomes.

Speaking of Rick Grimes, Entertainment Weekly talked to Andrew Lincoln after the midseason finale revealed Carl was bitten. Lincoln was shocked by the decision, but called it "incredibly courageous" since it's not the obvious thing for the show to do.

"Scott Gimple always makes a phone call to everybody, and he said to me, 'You're going to hate this one.' And I mentioned four names. None of them were right, and he had to tell me that it was the kid. I was so shocked that he said three times, 'Are you there? Are you there? Are you there?' I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to say.

I never saw it coming because I always thought that the kid would be the future, and that was the whole point of this — that I was going to hand over the revolver and let him walk off into the distance, you know? So it was incredibly shocking. Everybody was reeling from it and continue to reel from it. [...]

Glenn was so radical, but this — with the repercussions of it and what it means to lose a boy — to lose this significant character from the comic books is an extraordinary call. They made the call. They could've played safe and had the hero live and take on the show. They didn't do it. They shouldn't. He's the new hero, he's the hope and the humanity, and everything left in this guy — and yet they took him down. The torch is the kid. They can't pass the torch on to the kid. That's the standard way to do it and they've not done it. I mean it's incredibly courageous and I have to commend AMC and Scott, and the writers for making the most daring call they could possibly have made."

Fans were left shocked on social media, but also a bit confused because it wasn't clear when Carl got bitten and we didn't see him die. So some fans still think he won't die. Others were just left numb by it all, unlike the deep mourning for, say, Glenn or even Shiva the tiger. But the real emotional punch may be to come, since Carl's story isn't quite over. He'll be back in at least some of the eight episodes ahead in the second half of Season 8.

"The Walking Dead" Season 8 returns in early 2018.

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