Former Carl Grimes actor Chandler Riggs, whose character was killed off midway through The Walking Dead Season Eight, says it will be “interesting” to see how the series realizes storylines that featured Carl in a pivotal role — namely the unique dynamic between Carl and an imprisoned Negan that will remain exclusive to comic books.
“I’m actually excited to kinda see what they do with it,” Riggs told ComicBook.com’s Brandon Davis during Walker Stalker Con Orlando. “But there was a lot that kind of rode on such a heavy relationship being built over the span of the war.”
Robert Kirkman’s comic book series saw Carl make covert visits with ousted Savior leader Negan, who was dethroned by Rick Grimes and imprisoned in the Alexandria jail.
Because Carl’s TV counterpart is six feet deep, the show will dole out Carl’s comic book storylines to other still-surviving characters as it adapts the overarching comic book story for Season Nine.
“I was actually really excited for the rest of Carl’s story arcs, but it will be interesting to see what they fill that gap with,” Riggs said.
Poised to one day succeed his father as leader, Carl goes on to become the apprentice of a Hilltop blacksmith and forms a relationship with 16-year-old Lydia — daughter of Alpha, the vicious leader of a new enemy group — with Castle Rock actress Cassady McClincy freshly cast in that role, and Samantha Morton (Minority Report) playing her barbaric and unforgiving mother.
“We’re committed to keep telling the story from the comic book. Yes, it’s going to be different. And yes, Negan's relationship to Carl was a big part of the story moving forward, especially in the world changes we see early on. But, as usual, we do plan on telling those comic stories,” executive producer Scott Gimple previously told EW.
“It just will have to be with different people and it’s a different way to tell those same stories. But we hope to still fulfill what those stories do.”
Negan actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan mourned the loss of the relationship during San Diego Comic-Con, telling Hall H attendees, “There was a whole story that Robert wrote that I was excited to play, and it didn’t pan out that way. It ended a bit abruptly.”
“I think that relationship brought out something in both characters that we don’t see in any other way,” he said. “Those character traits that Carl brought out in Negan, I hope they’re brought out some other way because I think that [contributed] a lot in humanizing Negan.”
Morgan said he’ll share more face time this season with characters he’s had little interaction with in the series thus far, hinting parts of the Negan-Carl relationship could be salvaged and played out through Daryl (Norman Reedus), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Maggie (Lauren Cohan).
Also acting as a sort-of surrogate for the late Carl is Henry (Macsen Lintz), young ward of Kingdom leader King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), who is expected to adopt some of Carl’s up-for-grabs storylines — likely one day inheriting the Carl-Lydia romance.
Despite The Walking Dead foregoing the Carl-Negan dynamic, Riggs is hopeful the series will maintain the unconventional relationship between Negan and Whisperer leader Alpha as it played out in the comic books.
“I’m really excited for the whole Negan and Alpha thing, it’s gonna be fun to watch,” he said.0comments
The Walking Dead will suffer another major shake-up with the looming exit of Rick Grimes actor Andrew Lincoln, who steps away from the series this season to spend more time with his young family — bringing an end to the Grimes era.
The Walking Dead returns Sunday, October 7 on AMC.