The Walking Dead's mid-season finale saw Rick Grimes' son, Carl Grimes, reveal an incurable walker bite on his midsection, dooming the teen to death.
Carl showed his wound to Rick and Michonne after stepping up to defend Alexandria, which had come under seige by Negan and an army of Saviors. With Rick away and dealing with Jadis and the Scavengers, it was up to Carl to attempt to negotiate with Negan when the bat-wielding baddie strolled up to a sitting-duck Alexandria.
Carl offered himself as a sacrifice, telling Negan, "if you have to kill someone, if there has to be punishment, kill me."
While Carl appealed to Negan, the moment proved itself a diversion as the Alexandrians used trucks to escape.
"Son of a b—ch, Carl! Was that just a play?" Negan said, furious. "I thought we were having a moment, you little a—hole! Bombs away!"
Even with Carl's deception, actor Chandler Riggs said Negan will be "really sad" when he finds out about Carl's death.
"Negan had a very special relationship with Carl," Riggs said during a Q&A session at Fan Fest Portland. "I think he's going to be really sad when he finds out."
Carl and Negan had a one-on-one in 7x07 when Carl sneaked away and infiltrated the Saviors' home base, the Sanctuary, in an attempt to assassinate Negan.
The villain bullied Carl into showing off his missing eye, a prodding that upset Carl and drawing a rare — and sincere — apology from Negan. He came to respect Carl, despite his being Rick's son, even when he nearly executed Carl with his beloved baseball bat in 7x16.
Carl's looming death is inevitable, and the long-time survivor will be definitively killed off in the first episode of the back half of season 8.
Leading man Andrew Lincoln said the loss of Rick's son will drive the second half of the season, and will see the Alexandria leader "trying to live through the unbelievable pain, in the middle of a war, and trying to reconcile this loss with what he’s fighting for."
Riggs said he "didn't expect for Carl to ever get killed off" in a revealing interview, but added his character's death "serves a good purpose in the story."
The character plays an important part in the comic book series — the books saw Carl and Negan continue to explore their relationship after the war between Alexandria, the Hilltop, the Kingdom and the Saviors — and Gimple still plans on telling those stories, even without Carl.
"It just will have to be with different people and it's a different way to tell those same stories," Gimple said. "But we hope to still fulfill what those stories do."
The Walking Dead returns with its mid-season premiere Sunday, February 25 on AMC.