Deaths on The Walking Dead are never easy. For one thing, they're often just plain gruesome. For another, it often means losing a beloved character. It also means an actor who's been on the show for years is now out of a job. It's nasty business.
It seems to be a little nastier this time, though, as an actor's family member has now called out showrunner Scott M. Gimple for the decision to supposedly "fire" his son after last night's midseason finale, as he aired his grievances in a Facebook post that has since been deleted.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
At the end of last night's midseason finale, "How It's Gotta Be," Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) reveals to his father, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) that sometime during the evacuation of Alexandria, he was bitten. Gimple confirmed after the episode that it is indeed a Walker bite, and that means that sometime in the ensuing episodes Carl will die.
There are a lot of deaths on this show that are shocking, but this impending one is particularly heavy. For one thing, Carl always seemed like one of the few essential characters (along with Rick and fan favorites like Daryl) that it would be very difficult to kill off. For another, Carl Grimes is still alive and well in Robert Kirkman's comic book series (though the TV show has often made a point of deviating from its source material for the purpose of surprising viewers). As with all deaths on The Walking Dead, some fans will find it satisfying, while others will downright hate it. One of those fans is Riggs' own father, who took to Facebook to lash out at Gimple for the decision to "fire" his son.
"Watching Gimple fire my son 2 weeks before his 18th birthday after telling him they wanted him for the next 3 years was disappointing," Riggs wrote on Facebook (his first name is unlisted as the Facebook page is for a tour business), as first spotted by The Hollywood Reporter. "I never trusted Gimple or AMC but Chandler did. I know how much it hurt him. But we do absolutely know how lucky we have been to be a part of it all and appreciate all the love from fans all these years!"
It's unclear where Riggs got the claim that Gimple and the show wanted to keep Chandler around for three more years, but speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Chandler Riggs does confirm that it was indeed not his decision to depart.
"I'm taking a gap year right now to focus on acting for a while. Leaving Walking Dead wasn't my decision," Riggs said, in response to speculation that he was leaving the show on purpose to focus on college. "I was planning on going to college until I found out. I found out when I was doing rehearsals for episode six back in June. It was quite the shocker for me, Andy, and everyone because I don't think anyone saw it coming. It's definitely not a bad thing because it has been awesome being on the show but now I get to go and do a lot of other stuff that I haven't gotten to do before. Scott wanted to meet in person because it was such a big deal. We had just finished rehearsing for a scene in episode six and he wanted to meet with me and my mom and dad and talk about what's going to happen."
As with Game of Thrones, unless the departure is planned in advance (such as an actor leaving to focus on other projects), Walking Dead cast members often do not know they're going to be killed off until shortly before the episode is produced, in part to prevent spoilers and in part to preserve the emotional weight of the scene. It's quite possible that Riggs was told his job was safe right up until he was told that he was out, and while that sounds shady, it's also the nature of the beast. As Riggs pointed out, though, he did get eight years on the show, longer than most characters can ever dream of. Still, it's understandable to be disappointed when a lucrative, popular job you love suddenly loses its stability.
So, that makes two main cast members from the first season (the other being Steven Yeun) who are now no longer with us. Lincoln (Rick), Norman Reedus (Daryl), Melissa McBride (Carol), and Lennie James (Morgan) remain alive. But for how long?
The Walking Dead returns, presumably revealing Carl's final fate, on Feb. 12.