Ever since AMC premiered The Walking Dead, the fan loyalty to their series has been through the roof. But ever since Season 7, when the show killed off both fan favorites Glenn and Abraham Ford, fans have slowly begun to turn away. That fan rage got louder during the fall finale on Dec. 10 when Carl, played by Chandler Riggs and who has grown up on the show, was bitten by a zombie, signaling his death. But is he really going? Actor Chandler Riggs' The Walking Dead contract gives us a big clue if the kid is gone for good.
It's not good news, either. Riggs is almost 18 years old, and has spoken on-and-off about heading to college next year. That impending deadline, if in fact he wants to go to college at the same time his peers do, is now fast approaching, and fans have wondered if this would mean his character, Carl Grimes, was toast.
As fans learned this weekend, Carl is very toast. And butter and jam and other things that are part of a healthy zombie breakfast. And, furthermore, according to Riggs' dad, his son's contract is up, too.
Chandler's father, William Riggs, posted the following on Facebook last month:
7-year contract completed! Grateful to AMC, Cast & Crew, TWD fan base and especially Chandler for always being 100% dedicated.
But while the November post is happy smiles, when it came time to see Carl go down, Chandler's dad didn't take it so well. In a (now deleted) comment, he posted this:
While Riggs' father might not be behaving on social media, his son is far more professional. Chandler Riggs has been handling his exit interviews with grace.
Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, he admits it was hard, but that it has made him rethink his plans and opened up opportunities he wouldn't have had otherwise.
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.
Riggs' exit is partly a shock to fans because he has been with the production since the very beginning. He is (or was) the only original cast member from the pilot left other than star Andrew Lincoln, who plays his father, Rick Grimes. But also, this is a shock because it's such a huge deviation from the source material. In the comics, Carl is alive and well in his mid-20s, and maturing into the leader of the survivors they will need after the war ends.
One of the things The Walking Dead fans pride the show on is the ability to stay so dedicated to the material after all this time. Even before Game of Thrones ran out of source material, they were already condensing and streamlining from Season 2 onward, with each small choice leading to larger and larger changes down the line (Martin calls this "the butterfly effect.")
But The Walking Dead has largely avoided this, managing to still pull entire segments of dialog and plot from the comics even all these years in. To finally make this massive left turn leaves fans in a state of emotional shock.
But Riggs sees his time on the show as over, and he's ready to move on.
I was excited to do a lot of those storylines in the comics because there's a lot of really cool stuff. I'm more excited to do other things than The Walking Dead than I was excited about doing those things on Walking Dead.
Let's hope fans can get to the same acceptance too, by the time the spring premiere rolls around, and we see Riggs' final farewell.
The Walking Dead Season 8 returns with their midseason premiere on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018 on AMC.