With Carl having being killed off of The Walking Dead in its eighth season, the character's comic book stories are being handed out to character who survived him like Henry and Judith.
In Episode 9x06 on Sunday night, a massive time jump aged Henry up to about 15-years-old and Judith toward the age of 10. Within the latest hour of AMC's zombie drama, Henry was revealed to be working as a blacksmith apprentice and Judith was carrying on conversations with an imprisoned Negan. Both of those are key elements of Carl's story.
"The show has often diverged from storylines in the comic," The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang told EW. "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. 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."
Of course, with each adaptation of the comic comes an inherent deviation, without Carl. "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," Kang said. "He’s had a different upbringing. He’s had a bit of a sheltered life. He’s also faced different kinds of things. 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."
While Judith, on the other hand, might wear a costume similar to Carl's from the comics and be carrying out some of his narratives, Kang promises Cailey Fleming's character is very much her own.
"With Judith, she bears certain similarities to Carl," Kang said. "She’s also very much her own character as well. She’s really spunky. She’s funny. She is an apocalypse native. That makes things a little different than a kid who remembers life before the apocalypse. What’s exciting about it is we get to have that feel of the Grimes kid who’s 10 years old, like we have in the comics, but we’ve really been enjoying finding Judith’s unique version of what that story is because she, again, has a very different background than Carl."
It seems Kang is more invested in paying off certain comic book beats in the live-action series than her predecessor may have been. At the same time, she and the creatives are also bringing unique stories to life.
"For us on the creative side, we really enjoyed getting to look back at some of those plotlines that we loved so much from the comics, while also creating something that is unique to the show, because it’s our characters and their experiences are different," Kang said. "We’re just really thrilled to have Cailey Fleming playing Judith because she’s such a ray of sunshine for the cast and the crew. They just absolutely love her. People teared up when they saw her step on the set. She looked so much like Sarah Wayne Callies. There’s a resemblance to Chandler, who played Carl. That’s really been a bright spot for us in making this season."
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET. Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fifth season in 2019. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter and watch ComicBook.com's After The Dead each Sunday night following new episodes.