Carl Is Alive In 'The Walking Dead' Comics So The Series Is Making A Huge Change
The Walking Dead gave fans the bombing of Alexandria with more than a few moments from the comics to devour on screen, but that final image was a major departure. Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8 midseason premiere ahead. Carl is alive in The Walking Dead comics, so the fact that he gets bitten on the AMC series is a pretty big deal.
Sometime, likely while bringing Siddiq to Alexandria, Carl sustains a large bite on his side. It's unlikely that an amputation or operation can save him now, so Rick Grimes' son is unfortunately as good as dead. Of all the ways to remind us that this actually is a show about zombies, right? This is particularly brutal.
Because at this point in the comics, Carl is very much alive and actually a huge part of the story. He gets knocked out by the grenade blasts, but is unharmed. He later tried to kill Negan himself, but is stopped by the others. Even though he and Negan bond while the latter is behind bars, Carl still wants to kill him. When the series flashes forward two years, Carl is alive still and asks to move to Hilltop so he can apprentice as a blacksmith.
He also has, like, multiple love interests in the comics, from a girl named Anna in Alexandria to a grown-up Sophia and a captive Whisperer named Lydia. He actually goes off with the Whisperers for a while, and learns about their society. There's honestly so much more of Carl's story in the comics that this development on the show is even more heartbreaking. We won't get to see any of this.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, actor Chandler Riggs cited the source material when talking about the decision to have Carl get bitten in the first place. "In the comics," he said, "[showrunner Scott Gimple] was trying to figure out how to bridge the gap between Rick not wanting to kill Negan and Rick also really wanting to kill Negan, which he does right now." In the comics, Rick has a knife to Negan's throat and is ready to kill him, but the story jumps to two years later and Rick has kept Negan alive and in prison.
"Scott's way to get around that," Riggs continued, "was to make Carl this really humanitarian figure and person who could see the good in people and see that people can change and not everyone out there is bad. That's what Carl's talk to Rick was in this episode: there's no way that they can kill every one of the Saviors, and not everyone is a bad person, and there has to be some way forward than just killing people."
Riggs did express some disappointment in the THR interview. "I was excited to do a lot of those storylines in the comics because there's a lot of really cool stuff," he said. But the chance to work on other projects is equally enticing, and the actor is looking forward to the chance to expand his horizons and move on. So that's something.
If not Carl, who will take on these arcs in the comics? The Walking Dead often substitutes characters as a way to creatively adapt Robert Kirkman's graphic novels. For example, Michonne has largely taken the place of Andrea, and Enid's storyline is an awfully lot like Sophia's. Will Enid take on Carl's role? She's in a lot of trouble herself. While she and Aaron make a good choice to bring booze to Oceanside, Enid kills their "grandmother" sight unseen. That's not the welcome they hoped for from the all-female beach community, and Enid will be lucky to survive.
What about Judith, or that child that tried to get Carol to mentor him at the Kingdom? Carl is not replaceable by any means, but there are always plenty of younger people on The Walking Dead. Someone has to give us hope for the future. This is one of the biggest changes from the comics yet, and while it's totally depressing, it will be interesting at least to see how the show moves on from here.