Can you imagine being on the set of "The Walking Dead" Season 8 when the news came down about Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs)?
Sure, this show is known for killing off characters, major and minor. But Carl is/was not only an original Season 1 character, he was presumed to be the future of the show. Robert Kirkman, whose "Walking Dead" comic book series is still ongoing, said his series could survive without Rick Grimes, basically because it has Carl. Even Glenn's death, though devastating, was sourced to the comic book so it wasn't so shocking.
Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) was among the many who assumed No One Is Safe ... Except Carl. But the Season 8 midseason finale showed that Carl is not safe. It was a shock to everyone, including actor Chandler Riggs, his on-screen dad Andrew Lincoln, his real-life dad, and costar Reedus.
"I was desperately unhappy about that," Norman Reedus told Entertainment Weekly, when asked about Carl. "I've seen Chandler grow up from a little boy. I've known that kid so long, and it always hurts when you lose a family member on the show. Chandler is definitely a family member to me. I was not happy about it. I always thought Chandler would be the last man standing, to be honest."
Reedus said the people that started the show are the heart of the show.
"When you lose those key members, it's such a big blow to the show, and to the fans, and to us that are there. Who's left? There's only a few of us left out of all those people. If you wanted to turn it into a totally different show, you get rid of those people. But if you want to hold onto what made the show special, you've got to be very careful what you do with those people."
"Those people" now include Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Reedus as Daryl Dixon, and -- if you wanna see it that way -- Lennie James as Morgan Jones. Morgan was a major part of the pilot episode, and fans were happy to see him return briefly in Season 3, and then regularly after Season 5. (They were less happy to see how his character was treated, and now they're just confused about his future on "Fear.") Everyone else showed up in Season 2 or later.
Chandler Riggs' final episode as Carl airs Sunday, Feb. 25 in the midseason return of Season 8. It's a quandary for fans. Do they tune in for Chandler in honor of Carl's final hour, or protest the decision to not only kill Carl but drag out his death through a cliffhanger for maximum ratings?
There are eight episodes left to Season 8 before "Fear" Season 4 starts with Morgan as the crossover character. When TWD Season 9 returns in October, it will have a new showrunner at the helm, and maybe more hope for the future.
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