'The Walking Dead's Chandler Riggs and Jeffrey Dean Morgan On How Carl And Negan See Each Other

The Walking Dead stars Chandler Riggs and Jeffrey Dean Morgan opened up about their characters — frenemies Carl and Negan — in a mini-featurette aired during the lead up to tonight's mid-season premiere.

"Carl has never really been afraid of Negan," Riggs said. "I don't think he sees Negan as a threat. He just sees him as an annoyance getting in the way of a better world."

"Negan respects Carl because of who Carl is. Carl's always come at Negan very honestly, guns ablazing, and told it as it is," Morgan said. "He sees Carl as the future of this world."

The episode, "Honor," killed off Carl — bringing the live-action series its biggest deviation yet from Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman's ongoing comic books.

In the books, Carl and Negan form an unusual relationship, which plays a major part in both Carl and Negan's stories moving forward — stories that will now have to be dramatically altered.

Then season 8 showrunner Scott M. Gimple, who has since been promoted to overseer of the entire Walking Dead brand for AMC, told EW the live-action series is "committed to keep telling the story from the comic book."

"Yes, it's going to be different," Gimple explained, "and yes, Negan's relationship to Carl was a big part of the story moving forward, especially in the world changes we see early on. But, as usual, we do plan on telling those comic stories."

Gimple said the show's adaptation "just will have to be with different people," saying Carl's comic book plots being divvied up and given to other characters makes for "a different way to tell those same stories."

He added the filmmakers "hope to still fulfill what those stories do."

Appearing at Fan Fest Portland in January, Riggs said he thinks Negan is "going to be really sad" when he learns of Carl's death.

Riggs, who admitted he was blindsided by the news of his abrupt departure, explained why Carl was killed off in the show despite being a major player in the comic books:

In the comics [spoilers], Scott was trying to figure out why there was a hole between Rick slitting Negan's throat at the end of the All Out War arc and then there's the time jump and Negan is alive and in prison and Rick didn't kill Negan. Scott was trying to figure out how to bridge the gap between Rick not wanting to kill Negan and Rick also really wanting to kill Negan, which he does right now [in the show's story]. Scott's way to get around that was to make Carl this really humanitarian figure and person who could see the good in people and see that people can change and not everyone out there is bad. That's what Carl's talk to Rick was in this episode: there's no way that they can kill every one of the Saviors and not everyone is a bad person and there has to be some way forward than just killing people.
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The 18-year-old actor isn't ruling out a future return to the show, telling ET Live he could see Carl one day returning by way of flashback or dream sequence.

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