One of The Walking Dead's longest running survivors, Carl Grimes is the son of former Sheriff's Deputy turned Alexandrian leader Rick Grimes. A young Carl quickly adapted to living in a world overrun with the cannibalistic undead, adopting his father's handed-down sheriff's hat and, in time, his same proclivity for leadership.
Come season 8 of The Walking Dead — spoilers — Carl Grimes fell victim to a walker bite, revealing his mid-section wound to Rick and surrogate mother Michonne after staying behind to evacuate the Alexandria community after it came under siege by a retaliatory Negan and the Saviors.
Despite overwhelming fan outrage in response to Carl's pending doom, the young Grimes' fate is set in stone: Carl Grimes is going to die.
Carl's death will play out in the mid-season premiere when the second half of The Walking Dead season 8 returns in February, and Carl's looming demise has us looking back at the one-eyed teen's top ten scenes.
Rick and his band of survivors found refuge in the idyllic suburban community of Alexandria, where Rick struck up a romantic relationship with battered mother Jessie Anderson.
After an attack from outside forces saw walkers breach Alexandria's walls, Rick escorted his family and Jessie's family to safety — a plan that went swimmingly until Jessie's youngest son, Sam, froze up, subsequently getting devoured by walkers, who then feasted on a devastated Jessie.
Jessie's oldest son and rival of Carl's, Ron, went to shoot Rick — only to be cut down by Michonne's blade. The misfire resulted in Carl taking a shot to the head, Carl looking up only to reveal he'd been shot through the eye.
The moment was a shocker, and resulted in some of the show's best drama as Rick and Michonne hurried their way to resident doctor Denise, saving Carl's life. With Carl in safe hands, Rick and Michonne rampaged against the walker horde outside — arm-in-arm with Alexandrian residents new and old — reclaiming their newfound home.
Rick's group of survivors suffered a disastrous loss with the fall of the prison, what was meant to be a permanent home for the weary band of travelers. There was the even more devastating loss of baby Judith, with Rick and Carl coming across her emptied — and bloodied — carrier.
The father son pair took refuge in a nearby neighborhood, with a beaten and bloodied Rick passing out on a couch. Their fellow survivors presumed dead, an upset Carl exploded on an unconscious Rick, who had traded in his Colt Python for gardening tools, opting instead to live the peaceful life of a pacifistic farmer.
"I don't need you anymore. I don't need you to protect me anymore," Carl said. "I can take care of myself. You probably can't even protect me anyways. You couldn't protect Judith! You couldn't protect—" he gets the words out. "Hershel, or Glenn, or Maggie, Michonne, Daryl... or mom."
Carl set out on his own, rummaging through nearby houses and scoring an oversized can of pudding, which he promptly enjoyed while sat on a roof — just out of reach of a clawing walker.
The moment came as a nice reminder that despite being forced to grow up early, Carl was still a kid.
In another major turning point for Carl, the pre-teen was responsible for Hershel and Beth's safety after an attack on the prison by the Governor and his Woodbury soldiers.
The trio's hiding spot in the woods was discovered by Jody — a teen barely older than Carl — who asked an armed Carl and Hershel not to shoot. "Drop the weapon, son," Hershel commanded, with Jody complying. "Sure, take it," he said, handing his rifle over — slowly.
Too slowly. Carl shot him point blank, shocking both himself and Hershel.
Hershel confronted Rick over Carl's actions, saying the boy acted in cold blood. Realizing that Carl was headed down a dark path, Rick would later embrace Woodbury's non-combatants after the Governor's defeat as a means to show the boy this is who we are.
After the fall of the prison, a wandering Rick, Carl and Michonne grew closer as they sought out a new place to live. Their travels saw them encounter Joe and his band of Claimers, who wanted to kill Rick and rape Carl — a horrifying fate prevented by Rick's blood lust, as the protective father ripped Joe's throat out with his teeth and eviscerated Carl's would-be rapist.
"I was gone for a long time. But then Andrea brought me back. Your dad brought me back. You did," Michonne told Carl during a moment alone. "I see how you've been looking at your dad. You don't have to be afraid of me. Or him."
"He told me the other day that he was proud of me. That I was a good man. I'm not," said a tearful Carl. "I know more now. About what he wanted from me. And I tried, but... I still have these thoughts. I'm not what he thinks I am. I'm just another monster too."
Carl would be proved wrong several times over, but the bonding moment helped to solidify one of the show's most touching relationships as Carl and Michonne would continue to grow close. Her, gaining a son after losing her own, and him gaining a mom after losing his own.
With Rick laid up in the hospital and presumed dead, it fell on best friend and partner Shane Walsh to look after the Grimes family.
Shane got Carl and mother Lori out of Atlanta, where the pair were eventually reunited with a freshly revived Rick. Shane's jealously quickly grew out of control, and the former partners came to blows after the revelation that Lori was pregnant.
Rick and Shane's volatile relationship came to a head outside the Greene family farm, when Shane lead Rick into the woods in an attempt to murder him and lay claim to Rick's family. Rick stabbed Shane to death, leaving his old partner to turn.
Confronted by Carl, Rick was surprised when the boy drew his gun — only to shoot down a reanimated Shane. Putting down a man who had become a father-like figure to him was a big step for Carl, and it was a moment that would soon cause a major schism between the boy's parents.
Carl Grimes' childhood effectively ended the second he squeezed that trigger.
During their first encounter with Negan — who imposed his dictatorial rules on Rick and the group after horrifically executing Abraham and Glenn — the show's newest big bad wanted to break Rick Grimes.
Identifying Carl as Rick's son, Negan forced Carl onto the ground and marked the boy — ordering Rick to severe his son's arm. Do it, Negan said, or watch your friends die.
A distraught Rick pleaded with Negan, but Carl was more accepting.
"Dad," he said, "just do it. Just do it."
Rick readied himself. He took Carl's hand. Lifted his axe. Going to do it — and was stopped by a smarmy Negan, who got what he wanted.
It was another grown-up moment from Carl, who resigned himself to his fate without so much as a whimper. It was a moment reflective of Carl's defiant and selfless nature, proving the young Grimes was just as ballsy as his dad.
"No more kid stuff. People are gonna die," Rick told a young Carl during a talk on the Greene farm. "I'm gonna die. Mom. There's no way you can ever be ready for it. I try to be, but I can't. Best we can do now is avoid it as long as we can, keep one step ahead."
The words would ring in Carl's head as the child was faced with shooting Lori after she died giving birth. Putting a bullet into his mom is still the hardest thing Carl has had to do.
If Carl's childhood died when he put down a zombified Shane, he officially grew up when he squeezed the trigger again — saving his mom from turning into a monster.
A walker attack on Alexandria left former leader Deanna Monroe dead. The turned Deanna wandered into the nearby woods, where she was lead around by Carl and eventually discovered by her son, Spencer, who finally laid his mother to rest.
Michonne confronted Carl over his supposed reckless actions, telling him he should have left her or killed her.
"No. That's stupid," Carl said, recalling the time he left a walker alone — only for it to later make its way to the Greene farm and kill Dale.
"I wasn't gonna leave her out there like that," Carl tells Michonne. "You wouldn't. You wouldn't! I know it."
He says he couldn't kill her. Michonne asks why.
"Because it should be someone who loved her. Someone who's family. And I'd — I'd do it for you," Carl tells her. "I would."
Michonne smiles. They hug. "Me too."
What was already a heartwarming moment could prove even more devastating after 8x08 if Michonne is forced to be the one to put down Carl after his death.
The Grimes family had a tearful reunion in 1x03, with a shocked and excited Carl and Lori rushing to embrace a man they believed was dead.
Later, the Atlanta survivors sat around a peaceful campfire, Carl was nestled into Rick's lap as he recounted what it felt like to wake up in a world gone bye.
"I felt like I'd been ripped out of my life and put somewhere else," Rick said. "For a while I thought I was trapped in some coma, dream, something I might not wake up from ever."
Carl looked up. "Mom said you died."
"She had every reason to believe that," Rick told him. "Don't you ever doubt it."
Rick's arrival to the camp and reuniting with his family is among the show's sweetest moments — and Carl's death coming just two years after that moment is a gut-wrenching blow for the Grimes clan.
A pregnant Lori Grimes went into labor as walkers infiltrated the otherwise secure prison. Her only company was Carl and Maggie, who had the task of delivering the child.
"Baby, I don't want you to be scared, okay?" Lori said, Carl by her side. "This is what I want. This is right. You take care of your daddy for me, alright?"
"You're gonna be fine," she says through broken breaths. "You are gonna beat this world. I know you will. You are smart, and you are strong, and you are so brave, and I love you."
"I love you too."
"You gotta do what's right, baby. You promise me, you'll always do what's right. It's so easy to do the wrong thing in this world.
So don't — so if it feels wrong, don't do it, all right? If it feels easy don't do it. Don't let the world spoil you. You're so good. You're my sweet boy. The best thing I ever did. I love you."
"Maggie, when this is over, you're gonna have to—" Maggie knows. "You have to do it. It can't be Rick."
Carl handed Maggie a blade. "It's all right."
One last look.
"Good night, love."
Lori's death would devastate Rick and Carl, but the Grimes' soldiered on.
Carl would prove Lori right, proving more than once his strength and his bravery: from facing down Negan more than once to stepping up as interim Alexandria leader during an explosive Savior attack in 8x08, Carl never let this world beat him.
It was an act of goodwill — helping a stranger in need — that resulted in Carl being bitten, but Carl went out doing the right thing. He lived up to his mom's last words and didn't let the world spoil him.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC Sunday, February 25.