A six-year time jump introduced an aged-up Henry (Matt Lintz), adopted son of Carol (Melissa McBride) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton), and the new Walking Dead star has real-life ties to the past.
Lintz is the older brother of Macsen Lintz, who played the young Kingdom ward from Season Seven through the first few episodes of Season Nine. Matt and Macsen are the brothers of Madison Lintz, who played Carol’s doomed daughter Sophia in The Walking Dead’s first two seasons.
“That’s been really fun to have that family with us for another chapter of the show,” showrunner Angela Kang told EW.
Teenage Henry is the latest major addition to join The Walking Dead as result of that large leap forward, which brought with it a slew of new child characters:
There’s 10-year-old Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming), Aaron’s (Ross Marquand) adopted daughter Gracie (Anabelle Holloway), and R.J. Grimes (Antony Azor), the first biological child born to the Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) coupling.
Henry is only a partial stand-in for Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), whose hefty comic book storylines are beginning to play out on the television series, but tailored for other characters — including those who are long-dead in the books, like Judith, and those who never existed in the books, like Henry.
“The show has often diverged from storylines in the comic. It’s always a process remixing things for us. There’s nobody that’s going to exactly replace Carl. Carl is his own character, but there are definitely plotlines from the comic that we didn’t want to completely lose,” Kang said.
“Henry just organically would be with this time jump about the age of Carl in the comics. There were certain aspects that we felt play well with Henry, especially because Carol is now that parent.”
One of the storylines expected to be inherited by Henry is a Romeo and Juliet-like romance with the soon-to-arrive Lydia (Cassady McClincy), daughter of terrifying new enemy Alpha (Samantha Morton) — a path that would bring Carol into tense conflict with Alpha, taking over a storyline from comic book Rick Grimes.
Even as Carl’s comic book beats are adapted for the television show, Kang is clear Henry isn’t a Great Value Carl — and the story with the Whisperers won’t unfold in the exact way comic book readers expect.
“Obviously, all of that plays differently because Henry is a different kind of kid in the show than Carl was in the comic at this point. He’s had a different upbringing. He’s had a bit of a sheltered life. He’s also faced different kinds of things,” Kang explained.
“We just wanted to make sure that anything that we take from the comic that maybe once was part of Carl’s storyline, it’s a little different when you have Henry playing it. We don’t intend for it to be exactly the same.”