The following contains spoilers for the ninth episode of The Walking Dead's eighth season, titled "Honor."
The Walking Dead returned last night with the seco,nd half of its eighth season and fans were forced to say goodbye to a character who was there from the beginning: Carl Grimes (Chandler Ricks), son of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).
After helping the residents of Alexandria escape via the sewers following Negan's attack in "How It's Gotta Be," Carl reveals to his father and Michonne (Danai Gurira) that he has been bitten by a Walker. On that veritably dark note, the first half of Season 8 came to a close, and audiences had to wait over two months to see the resolution in "Honor" (directed by Greg Nicotero), where Carl shoots himself and is buried by Carl and Michonne.
It was truly an emotional episode for characters and fans alike who were reeling from the all-out action and shocking twist of the previous episode. Carl's departure from the show also hung over the set as Chandler Riggs was filming his last scenes as the character, the final one being his farewell to Judith. To say their own goodbyes, the crew came up with a fitting way to send Carl off into the great unknown.
"I remember reading the script and thinking how depressing all these scenes were. It was a really awkward day," Riggs told The Hollywood Reporter. "When we finished the last shot, the entire crew had patches or bandages over their eyes [in a nod to Carl] and were clapping and cheering. It was overwhelming, and everyone was both excited and sad to see me go. They gave me one of the original hats that Andrew Lincoln wore in Season 1 and a framed T-shirt of one of the science dog T-shirts that Carl wore in Season 1, which was really cool."
Luckily, the scene where he says goodbye to his dad and Michonne was one of the first ones shot for "Honor," with Riggs likening the experience to ripping off a band-aid right away.
“I’ve done countless super-emotional scenes with Danai and Andy, but this was definitely different,” he said to Variety. “That final goodbye scene was one of the first ones that we shot for the episode. That was good to get it out of the way and get it over with. It was bittersweet in a way, and since I didn’t have a negative outlook on it, I think it improved the morale among the rest of the cast. It was so awesome having that amazing experience. Eight years of being employed in the first place was great, but getting to do what I want to do was really incredible. Now I get to go do other things. It’s really fun and exciting.”
Riggs also posted on Twitter after the episode aired, expressing his appreciation for fans and thanking them for letting him follow his dream.
Carl's death is a major departure from the comics by Robert Kirkman, but showrunner Scott Gimple promises that it's all part of a master plan.
"I know that Carl’s death has massive importance to the characters and even to the fate of the world that we have on the show and how it moves forward," he said in an interview with Deadline. "Obviously, I want our audience to be happy and I don’t like them in pain, but it’s part of a very big story that takes a lot of hard turns. But honestly, it is going towards a greater purpose and a greater message."
The worst part of it all is that there won't be any more "Carl" memes like this one:Rest in peace, Coral. You're really sleeping with the fishes now.