The Walking Dead said goodbye to another main character last night, but instead of the brutal, bloody way most people seem to die in on AMC’s zombie drama, it was actually quite an emotional affair. Carl (Chandler Riggs), precocious teen turned mature young adult, succumbed to his walker bite and took his own life rather than becoming a walker himself. He approached his inevitable death with extreme pathos, and even decided to use his last days for good by convincing his father Rick (Andrew Lincoln) to end the violent cycle of bloodshed and find a way to build a peaceful life.
That’s when The Walking Dead finally revealed the secret of the Old Man Rick flashforward, by showing Carl’s vision for an idyllic future that combined Kingdom, Hilltop and Alexandria into one community. It was a beautiful dream, seeing Rick at peace with his daughter growing up in a world where she didn’t fear for her life every waking moment. Even Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) was there, living as a happy farmer (and nary a baseball bat to be found). And Carl finally found the agency he never really had on the series by choosing to take his own life instead of having his father or someone else do it or becoming a walker from his bite. In a heart wrenching scene, Carl committed suicide by gunshot, and the camera lingered on Rick and Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) faces to show their mourning. Carl was buried, and with that, one of The Walking Dead‘s only five remaining main characters on the series and in the comics left the show.
As if that isn’t emotional enough, Riggs’ father took to social media when news broke of his son’s impending exit from the AMC series, and he was ready to air some dirty laundry. Because, according to him, showrunner Scott M. Gimple actually fired Riggs. In a Facebook post, Riggs’ father wrote that “Gimple fire[d] my son 2 weeks before his 18th birthday after telling him they wanted him for the next 3 years.” And Riggs himself confirmed that it wasn’t his decision to leave the show. “I’m taking a gap year right now to focus on acting for a while. Leaving Walking Dead wasn’t my decision,” Riggs told The Hollywood Reporter.
But while Riggs politically kept his explanation vague for why Carl was written off the show, fans are still left wondering why The Walking Dead decided to fire the young actor. Especially since Carl is still alive in the comics!
While Riggs was planning on going to college until he found out the news, he wasn’t planning on leaving the show (and he’s only now focusing on a music career since leaving the show). So if he wanted to stick around despite his ongoing education, and his family supported him, and the character was still alive in the comics books upon which the show is based (and Carl actually has a pretty major arc in the comics that the show hasn’t really brought to life), why did The Walking Dead decide to kill of Carl?
This is a mystery of which we may never get to the bottom.