Warning: If you haven’t watched this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, come back and read this later!
The Sunday, December 10, mid-season finale of The Walking Dead ended with a tough pill to swallow. Carl (Chandler Riggs) revealed in the final moments that he had been bitten by a walker while saving Siddiq (Avi Nash). His bite, unfortunately, was not on a limb he could just chop off, but on his side.
you’ll hear from me soon.
— chandler riggs (@chandlerriggs) December 11, 2017
In November 2016, Riggs’ father posted on Instagram that his son’s seven-year contract with the show was finished, adding “#freedom.” The actor, 18, also posted on Twitter he had been accepted to Auburn University, causing many fans to speculate that he was leaving the show. However, that was not the reason his character was killed off, Riggs revealed in an interview following the episode.
“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,” he told The Hollywood Reporter, adding he found out about the twist during the summer. “I was planning on going to college until I found out. I found out when I was doing rehearsals for episode six back in June. It was quite the shocker for me, Andy 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.”
During the aftershow, Talking Dead, executive producer Scott M. Gimple explained that the shocker will of course, impact everyone. “The bite is going to play out as we’ve seen bites play out, and it’s very important to Carl’s story and the entire story what happens in the next episode,” Gimple said. “So I’m just focused on the fact that Carl right now is alive and he has some business to attend to.” However, he did confirm that bite is “a one way ticket.”
Andrew Lincoln also revealed that this is “the biggest death we’ve ever done,” and Rick’s going to be reeling from this.
“[Showrunner] Scott Gimple always makes a phone call to everybody, and he said to me, ‘You’re going to hate this one,'” Lincoln told Entertainment Weekly about when he found out. “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.”
He added he “never saw it coming” because as most thought, he felt Carl was the future of the show. “It was incredibly shocking. Everybody was reeling from it and continue to reel from it,” he added. “I would’ve thought there’d have been some warning from Scott that something this big was coming because this is by far the biggest death we’ve ever done.”
The Walking Dead returns on AMC Sunday, February 25, at 9 p.m. ET.