Warning: The following post contains spoilers for the most recent episode of The Walking Dead and the comics on which it is based.
The writer behind The Walking Dead comics, Robert Kirkman, has finally shared his thoughts about the recent major twist in TWD television show, which marked a big departure from the comics. And Kirkman’s comments may be a beacon of hope that maybe it’s not going to turn out so bad after all.
The Walking Dead TV show mostly stuck to the same storylines and character developments as the comic book series it’s based on until Season 8’s mid-season finale in December, in which series mainstay Carl was bitten by a zombie. This means Carl, the son of lead character Rick Grimes, is either going to turn into a zombie himself or die before he has the chance to turn, a shocking end to Carl’s story.
In the comics, Carl never experienced a fatal encounter like that, but Kirkman shared his confidence in the showrunners’ decision to add the plot development to the show, Entertainment Weekly reported Friday.
“I think [showrunner Scott M. Gimple] first brought it up to me as a possibility probably about a year ago at this point,” Kirkman told EW. “At first, I was kind of like, ‘Well, that’s a big one, you know?’ I might have had a little bit of trepidation. But once he laid out to me exactly what his long-term plans were, and the things that come out of it, and the things that it leads to, it was something I got on board with.”
The decision to have a zombie bite Carl came as a huge surprise to fans of The Walking Dead, both because it never happened in the comics, but also because Carl is one of the few characters who has survived since the first season.
“I know that some fans online have been very upset, but that’s by design,” Kirkman told EW. “We’re not supposed to be happy when these characters die. We are supposed to be worried about what comes next, and anticipating what comes next, and stressing about what comes next. That just shows that you’re engaged and you’re interested. Our job is to now pay that off and fulfill that interest, and prove that this was a decision worth making. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
Even the actor who plays Carl, Chandler Riggs, was surprised by the decision, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “It was devastating for me and my family because the show has been such a huge part of my life for so long.”
Riggs’s father also expressed his own disappointment in the show “firing” his son on Facebook, The Hollywood Reporter reported.
“Watching Gimple fire my son 2 weeks before his 18th birthday after telling him they wanted him for the next 3 years was disappointing,” he said.
Kirkman acknowledged that Carl’s departure will cause a ripple of changes in the show because Carl remains an instrumental character in the comics.
“There are plans in place to make it all work,” Kirkman said. “The loss of Carl doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to be losing big swaths of the comic book story. It means that there will be some differences to them. The goal is that those differences will be as exciting to the audience as they are to me.”
The next episode of The Walking Dead airs Feb. 25 on AMC.