The Real Reason Carl Didn't Appear On Rick's Final 'The Walking Dead' Episode Revealed

Throughout Andrew Lincoln's last episode, fans were shown several touching scenes that included several deceased characters from his character's — Rick Grimes — past.

At the end of the hour-long episode, fans were left scratching their heads as to why Rick's late wife Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) or late son Carl (Chandler Riggs) were nowhere to be found.

According to The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang, there was "a reason" for that.

“We dove into this idea of the ‘third man phenomenon,’” Kang the Huffington Post. “When people are close to death, sometimes they imagine seeing somebody that they knew or that they don’t know that helped drive them to survive and keep them going."

"We had these three particular characters [Shane, Hershel and Sasha] who are sort of filling an emotional need for him in the moment, but Rick’s entire journey is looking for his family, and I felt, creatively felt, that if he sees Lori or Carl he would feel like, ‘OK, I fulfilled my mission. I found them. I’m home. I can lay down and die now.’”

Kang went on to explain that Rick's hallucinations didn't include his real family members because he was, instead, focusing on the friends that became family throughout his journey on the show.

“He needed to keep going for the family that is still there, and so to have that kind of restlessness of like, ‘I still haven’t found them. Where are they? Where are they?' bringing him back to realizing his family has always been there all along ― that the people he’s fighting for now are still his family ― that’s what keeps him going. So he can’t find them, otherwise it’d be too easy for him to give up.”

While Lincoln's time as Rick Grimes is up on The Walking Dead show itself, the actor has signed on to appear as the character in a trio of made-for-television movies set in the wildly popular AMC universe.

“This is not a trick. This is the end of Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead. This is not going to be the end of Rick Grimes’ story,” AMC executive and The Walking Dead producer Scott Gimple said on the live aftershow immediately trailing Lincoln’s last episode of the flagship series.

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“We’re going to continue telling Rick Grimes’ story in a series of AMC original films. There’s a lot of story to tell.”

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.