Carl Grimes

Why Killing Carl Grimes May Be the Worst Mistake from ‘The Walking Dead’

‘The Walking Dead’ killed major character Carl Grimes and his unexpected and controversial death may signal a more negative future for the show.
March 9, 2018
7 mins read

*Warning: Spoilers Ahead*

AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is known for its shocking, graphic and sometimes unexpected death of its characters. Over the course of the show’s eight seasons, “The Walking Dead” has killed off many of its major characters, from Beth Greene to Glenn Rhee to Sasha Williams.

“The Walking Dead” premiered the second half of its eighth season with the death of Carl Grimes, the son of the main character Rick. The decision to kill Carl was a controversial one among fans and a huge mistake for the TV show to have made.

First, Carl has seen tremendous growth as a character since he first appeared on the show in 2010.

Since his introduction in the season one episode, “Tell It to The Frogs,” audiences have watched Carl grow up on-screen. Long-term fans of the show have seen Carl lose his best friend, Sophia; lose his mother, Lori; find a girlfriend, Enid; tragically lose his eye; and, in the past season, take charge over the Alexandrians as they fight against Negan’s rule of the community.

Carl has seen significant character development since his first appearances and has grown from a hot-headed child to a powerful leader amongst the Alexandria community.

In the past few seasons, few characters have gotten the opportunity to have multiple impactful story arcs, and it now seems pointless for showrunner Robert Kirkman and the writers of “The Walking Dead” to have spent so much time developing a character, especially in the past few years, if they were ultimately going to throw all of his character development away by suddenly killing him off.

Secondly, the death of Carl Grimes takes away another connection that earlier fans of the show have. Of the original cast members, the only ones left alive are Carol Peletier, Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon.

The core characters of the show have rapidly thinned themselves out, and Carl’s death further narrows down the list of characters that connect the earlier seasons to the current seasons. Part of what makes shows continuously popular is the connection to characters.

Although by nature, “The Walking Dead” has kept a rotating cast list, many fans have consistently tuned in to see some of their favorite characters’ developments.

Personally, I have not been able to connect with many of the new characters that have been introduced from Hilltop and Alexandria, and now I won’t have the chance to see Carl, whom I have seen each Sunday night for years and whom I came to enjoy watching.

Realistically, many of the main characters from earlier seasons have died in order to further the plotlines similar to events that occur in the “Walking Dead” comic book series.

For example, Sasha died after being kidnapped by Negan, similar to the way that Holly died in the comics. Glenn also died in the manner that he did in comic books, as a means to further along the story to the events of “All Out War.”

To date, “The Walking Dead” TV show has been similar to the events of the comic book series. This is part of the reason to why Carl’s death is so disappointing; there is no similar act in the comic books. In fact, Carl plays a significant role in the future story arcs in the comic series.

walking dead comic
‘The Walking Dead’ comic books have been continually updated since the early 2000s (Image via Cleveland)

After the events of “All Out War” and Negan’s defeat, the point that TV viewers are currently at, Rick and his communities become involved in a conflict with The Whisperers. Carl’s romantic involvement with Lydia, daughter of The Whisperer’s leader Alpha, is one of the main reasons that Rick and his groups even come to learn about The Whisperers.

Carl is active in the fight between the Hilltop community and The Whisperers, so it seems oddly timed that they would kill off a character that is so critically relevant to the story arcs that have not yet been played out on-screen.

The worst part of seeing Carl Grimes die is that it just felt pointless. I can’t reasonably foresee why it was necessary to kill Carl, except to further the number of tragedies that have befallen Rick Grimes since he woke up to find himself in the apocalypse. Carl has managed to survive a lot of near-death scenarios, including several close-call walker attacks.

To see him die after all this time from a walker bite that could have been easily avoided seems almost cheap. It wasn’t a logical death, and it’s certainly not the death that Carl Grimes deserved after all these years.

Although not everyone was a Carl fan, I think everyone can agree that he was a huge part of the show. “The Walking Dead” would not be what it is today without Carl Grimes, and he deserved a much better send-off than the one that he received. His death is going to change the nature of the show and not necessarily for the better.

Kate Maxwell, NC State University

Writer Profile

Kate Maxwell

NC State University
Political Science


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Don't Miss