Former Carl Grimes actor Chandler Riggs admits he didn't know how he was "going to get through" a sad farewell in his final episode of The Walking Dead, a scene topped only by another "really depressing" sendoff from the zombie drama's early seasons. After outliving most of the original group of survivors once led by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), including "uncle" Shane (Jon Bernthal) and best friend Sophia (Madison Lintz), Carl took his own life in Season 8 before he could succumb to an incurable walker bite received when helping Siddiq (Avi Nash) honor his late mother by "freeing the souls" of walkers. But it was a tearful goodbye with Carl's own mother, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), that stands as the most heart-wrenching scene Riggs performed on The Walking Dead.
"I remember reading the script for that last episode, and I was like, 'Man, this is so depressing. I don't know how I'm going to get through this,'" Riggs said of Carl's death episode, "Honor," at FAN EXPO Vancouver. "And obviously it was super sad when we were watching it, but with the script, I remember my goodbye speech to Judith. I was like, 'Dude, what? Why do I have to say this? This is so sad.'"
Carl and a younger Judith (at the time played by twins Chloe and Sophia Garcia-Frizzi) exchanged goodbyes in the sewer beneath Alexandria, where he bequeathed to her the handed down sheriff's hat an aged-up Judith (Cailey Fleming) continues to wear more than six years later.
But it was the goodbye with Carl and Judith's mother in Season 3 episode "Killer Within" that Riggs identified as the "hardest thing" he did on The Walking Dead.
"That was really depressing for everyone involved," he said of the scene that ended with Carl having to shoot Lori just moments after she died delivering Judith. "That was probably the saddest."
Recalling his own exit, Riggs was "pretty bummed out" before realizing he could move on to other roles and "really explore my potential as an actor."
On Walking Dead, Riggs said, Carl was locked into a loop, flip-flopping between a stone cold killer and a pacifist urging for peace at a time when the survivors were at war with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his Saviors.
"It was kind of like, for so many years, it was just kind of an arc that was just kind of up and down of him going crazy and wanting to kill everyone, and then him being really humanitarian and not wanting anyone to die, then back to killing people, and then humanitarian again," he said. "So it's really, really cool to be able to explore other arcs and other stories."0comments
"But still, being a part of Walking Dead, it was just insane. I don't think I realized how big of an impact my character had on so many people," Riggs continued. "From time to time people will come up to me saying [that] seeing Carl go through what he did in the apocalypse helped them get through chemo when they had cancer, or get through depression. Stuff like that is so cool. And it reminds me of why I'm even an actor in general, it's for things like that. For affecting people, and making people feel something and getting to connect with a character. So getting to play that role and help so many people with so many things in their lives was just incredible, and I couldn't be happier that I was a part of that, and I hope to be part of more things like that."