The father of one of The Walking Dead's longest-serving cast members is once again speaking out about his son's departure from the show, calling what happened "unkind timing."
Chandler Riggs, who played Carl Grimes on the hit AMC series, left the show after the Season 8 midseason premiere "Honor" in February 2018, after the midseason finale in December of 2017 revealed that his character had suffered a Walker bite and would soon die. After the midseason finale aired, Riggs' father William posted on the Facebook page he runs for a zombie tour business tied to his son's Walking Dead role, claiming Riggs did not want to leave the show and that he was fired by then-showrunner Scott M. Gimple.
"Watching Gimple fire my son 2 weeks before his 18th birthday after telling him they wanted him for the next 3 years was disappointing," William Riggs wrote in the post, which was later deleted. He also claimed he "never trusted" Gimple.
Over the weekend, nearly a year after his son's final episode of the series, Riggs posted yet again on his zombie tour Facebook page to "clarify" a few things surrounding his son's departure from the series. According to Riggs' more detailed account, Chandler Riggs was offered a two-year contract renewal on The Walking Dead with an additional one-year option in April of 2017, which he describes as "typical."
Chandler Riggs had, according to his father, just been accepted at the University of Georgia and bought a house close to The Walking Dead's set to be closer to work. Then, in June of that year, Riggs and his parents were asked to take a meeting with the production, which turned out to be a meeting with only Gimple.
"It made me nervous but he and his manager assured me it was to plan for filming schedule, etc. Scott Gimple was the only one there and he told us that Carl would be gone in a few episodes. Chandler was absolutely devastated," William Riggs wrote. "I was disappointed Scott had been dishonest with a 17 year old making life decisions and waited to tell us. After it aired, I was asked to comment on how I felt. I did, maybe shouldn’t have. 3 hours later AMC asked me to take the comment down- which I did- 6 hours later TMZ called and wanted me on and I declined. None of it has ever really been about me. Don’t know why anyone would say anything about me- but that’s ok- teaching Chandler to disregard negativity came with the deal so I can do it too lol. I never made it difficult for my son, our family had to work together to make it possible for him. Extremely grateful for the opportunity and 8 great years; as a parent I felt Chandler had earned better treatment, but that’s the biz. Unkind timing."
At the time of his departure from the show, Chandler Riggs confirmed that it had indeed been a surprise and hadn't been his choice to leave The Walking Dead. Months later, speaking to SYFY WIRE, he noted that while he was enjoying his freedom after leaving the series, he "definitely" also still missed it.
One of Carl's last acts on the show, and the storytelling reason for his death, was to pass on a message of mercy and unity to his father Rick, with the hope that the elder Grimes' hardening heart might soften a bit and lead to the building of a better world. That was the in-story, thematic reason for his death, though it did mean a young actor would no longer have a role he'd carried for nearly a decade.
The show has moved on, to the point that even Rick Grimes himself, Andrew Lincoln, isn't a part of it anymore and Michonne (Danai Gurira) will be on her way out soon as well. As for Carl's lingering storylines (the character is still alive in the comics), a new teenage character has actually been introduced in recent episodes to seemingly take on some of his storylines within the "Whisperer" arc.
As The Walking Dead heads for more cast shake-ups ahead of its 10th season renewal, we're pondering this particularly contentious one once again.