The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang says it’s a “funny coincidence” that Aaron (Ross Marquand) now resembles the Rick Grimes of creator Robert Kirkman’s comic books since losing an arm in a logging accident.
“We actually came up with the idea of [Aaron] losing his arm before he was at full bearded capacity,” Kang told Skybound of the bushy-bearded Marquand.
“I kind of knew what he looked like with a beard but I didn’t really think about it too hard because [Rick Grimes actor] Andy [Lincoln] was still growing his beard, and then I was like ‘huh, that’s interesting.’ It wasn’t like fully intentional, but it’s kind of like a fun parallel.”
While Aaron won’t be a surrogate for Rick, who will soon be off the show as Lincoln makes his exit, Kang did say the forcible amputation paid homage to a comic book moment that saw Rick’s hand severed by the villainous Governor.
“The arm chop was a little bit of a nod of the thing that we never did with Rick, [and] it’s going to play out differently with Aaron,” she said.
The shocking moment came as a means of exploring an otherwise able-bodied character having to navigate the world of a zombie apocalypse after losing a limb, as audiences saw previously with Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) and Hershel (Scott Wilson), who lost a hand and a leg, respectively.
“You know we were just really interested in telling the story of… if somebody starts the apocalypse and they are fully physically able and then something drastically changes with them physically… how do they cope with that?” Kang said.
“[Aaron] is such a strong character and I just think it allows us to tell a different sort of story that finds more ways to represent the various people who watch the show. So that’s been really cool.”
Marquand told ComicBook.com he thought the idea of Aaron losing a limb was “fantastic.”
“I love the idea of having the extra challenge. As a character, losing an arm is a significant one,” Marquand said, explaining he’s since taken to tying his arm behind his back and getting into the habit of having that arm be immobile.
“It’s been great because you realize that the biggest thing that comes with that is, obviously the sadness of losing a limb, but also the frustration of it,” he said. “There’s this immense frustration of not being able to do the things you do. I’ve talked to a few people who have lost limbs and that’s the thing that keeps coming back is just this frustration.”