The Walking Dead Creator Addresses Carl’s Death and TV Show Changes

The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman continues to endorse the television series’ dramatic changes from his comic book, even if it rules out the TV show from adapting the storybook ending between Carl Grimes and daughter Andrea.

“I like that everything is different and they change it up,” Kirkman said Thursday during his In Conversation panel at San Diego Comic-Con.

“I definitely have conversations with [TWD chief creative officer and former showrunner] Scott Gimple where I say, ‘If we lose this, you lose this,’ but he says, ‘Yes, then we gain this.’ The audience doesn’t get to see that, so it can be tough when a major character dies and we have a plan.”

He added: “I hold that I’ve endorsed everything, for better or worse. If you’re mad about something that happens on the show, please be mad at Scott Gimple — but I am a little bit culpable.”

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(Photo: Image Comics)

Carl survived through the final issue of Kirkman’s comic book, and his death in the television series is “something that I’ve gotten used to, it happens from time to time on the show,” Kirkman said in a 2018 episode of Talking Dead after Chandler Riggs’ Carl was killed off in Season 8.

“Really if anything, it just makes me more excited. I think that any time that path is not set, any time you can’t look at a comic book series and go, ‘oh, I know exactly what’s going to happen,’ it makes things a little bit more exciting.”

Kirkman added those unknowns and “all those changes that kind of snowball out from that, it just makes for a better show.”

As it heads into its tenth season, due out on AMC this fall, TWD has drifted even further from its comic book counterpart following the departures of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) — who was killed off only in the penultimate issue of Kirkman’s book — and Hilltop leader Maggie (Lauren Cohan), who may return sometime this season.

For showrunner Angela Kang, Gimple’s successor since Season 9, the show never set out to exactly replicate the book.

“We’re all so inspired by the comics. Kirkman is such a master of the page-turner. You read it and it’s like a juicy, juicy, just fun comic book to read,” Kang said at PaleyFest in March.

“There’s so many wonderful, iconic moments in the comics. Moments you get to and just say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe he just did that. I have to see this on screen!’ As writers, as with any fans of the comics, we have those same responses. But with the show we have such a different array of characters and such different circumstances that it’s never going to be exactly the comic, nor should it be. It’s a different medium.”

Kang and the team instead aim to recreate certain beats while honing in on the same emotions expressed by the pages, even if characters or circumstances differ.

“So what’s really fun is to go, here’s that amazing moment in the comic and here’s how it made us feel,” Kang said. “Now, how do we capture that feeling, even if the way you get to it is not literally the same way that the comic book got to it?”

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Kirkman is working alongside Gimple and developing the coming trilogy of Walking Dead movies centered on Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). Gimple said in January Kirkman is “heavily involved” in the movie side of the franchise.

The Walking Dead premieres its Season 10 trailer Friday at Comic-Con ahead of an October 6 return to AMC.

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