The Walking Dead star Chandler Riggs "would have loved" to work with Cailey Fleming, the 12-year-old actress who inherited the role of Carl Grimes' younger sister Judith in Season 9. Riggs played Carl until the character's death in Season 8, leaving just a number of episodes before Judith's adoptive father, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), disappeared and was presumed dead in Season 9 episode "What Comes After." It was a major change from the comic books: there it was a one-month-old Judith Grimes who died alongside her mother, Lori Grimes, while Carl survived through the book's final issue. But Fleming's Judith has long outlived her comic book counterpart, and Riggs would have wanted to play out the dynamic between an older Carl and Judith.
"It would have been really interesting to see that kind of blossom and kind of see the role Judith would fill, since in the show Judith kind of took on Carl’s storyline with Negan and whatnot," Riggs said at FAN EXPO Vancouver. "I think they really would have bonded over Rick leaving and Michonne being their kind of parent that’s raising them. I think they definitely would have bonded over that a lot. It would have been really cool to see that, for sure."
In the comic books, it was Carl who would sometimes sneak away to converse with an imprisoned Negan. In the show, the ex-Savior leader (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) emerged as a sort of uncle figure for Judith, a relationship once contested by mother Michonne (Danai Gurira) before Negan put himself at risk to save the young girl.
It was during a six-year time jump following Rick's presumed death that Michonne gave birth to RJ (Antony Azor), the couple's first biological child.
Following an 18-month time jump separating Seasons 8 and 9, the six-year skip, and another months-long period skipped over between Seasons 9 and 10, Carl has been dead for nearly eight years. But Riggs would have wanted to see an older Carl helping raise two younger siblings.
"I love Cailey, the girl that plays Judith. She’s so sweet," Riggs said. "Cailey’s incredible, and I would have loved to have worked with her. She’s an incredible actress and it’s amazing seeing her fill that role. It would have been cool to see that."
For Fleming, the feeling is mutual.
"I think that seeing the bond that they had would have been amazing to see [in Seasons 9 and 10]. I think that would have been so cool," she said during an Instagram Live stream in December. "I think having a scene with him would have been really special, but that would have been really cool."
Asked if Carl and Judith would still get along if they were both six years older, Fleming answered, "I think so. I think seeing Judith look up to Carl as the big brother role that he could play, I think they would get along. All brothers and sisters have some fights, like little tiny things, but I think that if they were to grow up together and to fight together, I think that would have been really cool."
Fleming added Judith is "really thankful" for baby brother RJ, making sure she shares with him stories of their brave father. Riggs previously told the Talk Dead to Me podcast he expects Judith to take over Carl's comic book ending, which sees Carl, now 20-something years older, reading a book documenting Rick's history in the apocalypse to young daughter Andrea Grimes.
TWD Season 10 returns with new episodes Feb. 23 on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.