Spoiler Alert: The article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead episode, “How It’s Gotta Be.”
It’s official: Carl Grimes is a goner. The beloved Walking Dead character, who was first seen in the AMC post-apocalyptic drama when he was just 11-years-old, will be killed off in the mid-season premiere in February. Carl has been played by child actor Chandler Riggs since The Walking Dead pilot in 2010, appearing in more than 100 episodes, but in Episode 808 it was revealed that the son of lead character Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) sustained a walker bite and was dying.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Riggs confirmed Carl’s death two months before viewers will actually see it play out.
“Yes, Carl is going to die,” Riggs told THR. “There’s no way he can get back from that. His story is definitely coming to an end.”
Carl’s imminent death will mark the biggest death ever on the long-running AMC series as well as the biggest departure from The Walking Dead comic books to date. Riggs told THR that he had taken a gap year from college to focus on his acting career and that leaving The Walking Dead was never in his plan.
“Leaving Walking Dead wasn’t my decision,” Riggs said.
“I found out [about Carl’s death] when I was doing rehearsals for episode six back in June. It was quite the shocker for me, Andy [Lincoln] and everyone because I don’t think anyone saw it coming.”
Chandler Riggs revealed that he was devastated by the news of his character’s demise at first. The teen star admitted he was blindsided and had thought his TWD career was so solid that he had just recently purchased a house in Senoia, near where the show films in Georgia.
“I didn’t expect for Carl to ever get killed off. But it serves a good purpose in the story.” Chandler told THR.
“There’s still a little more left in Carl’s story — in episode nine [the midseason premiere in 2018] — and that impacts Rick, Michonne and everyone. Although Carl’s story is coming to an end it’s not over yet. Episode 809 is really Carl trying to teach Rick as much as he can about what he’s learned and trying to convince Rick to not kill every single Savior because there’s still good people out there…There’s some humanitarian aspects that Carl is going to try and teach Rick in his final moments.”
Series star Andrew Lincoln also spoke to the Hollywood Reporter, describing the death of Carl as “huge.” Lincoln added that he couldn’t even speak when he first learned that Riggs’ character was being killed off of the show after eight seasons by his side.
“I always thought Carl was going to be the one who led the show forward; that Rick would hand over his boots and revolver when he walked off into the sunset in Season 28,” Lincoln said.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) December 11, 2017
The Walking Dead star said everybody on the set was “reeling” after the shocking news about Carl’s fate was delivered by showrunner Scott Gimple.
“It was incredibly sad, as you can imagine,” Lincoln said.
“This is the biggest death [of a character] we’ve ever had and probably ever will have, actually, if you are a comic reader and realize the importance of Carl in the comics…The beginning [of the midseason premiere] is the most painful episode I’ve been involved in.”
The Walking Dead stars aren’t the only ones who have a strong reaction to the impending death of Carl. Longtime fans of the series flocked to social media to pay their respects to the teen character—two months before his death will be shown on the show.
“Thank you @chandlerriggs for 8 incredible seasons,” tweeted former walker, Matt Nelson. ” I will never forget my first day on set as a Hero walker. You were the first person to ever kill me on the show. You are a talented actor and I hope to work with you in the future.”
— Mandy Hale (@MissMandyHale) December 11, 2017
— Brandon Davis (@BrandonDavisBD) December 11, 2017
I'm done. Done. Done. DONE. This is like a freaking nightmare. Carl deserves so much better. I HATE EVERYTHING. #TWD
— Brittany Butler (@ibrittanybutler) December 11, 2017
— Cyndi B. (@Mirimomma) December 11, 2017
So much love, gratitude and respect for @chandlerriggs. It takes talent to start at such a young age to bring a character to life, and to develop his character the way he did. You did such a brilliant job, wishing you the best. Thank you! ❤️ #TheWalkingDead #TWDfamily
— Tara Chambler (@TaraFknChambler) December 11, 2017
You can see the shocking scene from the midseason finale below, which all but seals Carl’s fate on The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC Feb. 25.