Before The Walking Dead killed off Carl Grimes midway through its eighth season, Chandler Riggs never thought Carl's story would "end at any point." While the comic book focused almost the entirety of its run on Carl's father, Rick Grimes, creator Robert Kirkman has long viewed The Walking Dead as Carl's story — and when the book concluded after 193 issues in July 2019, it was Carl, not Rick, who survived until the final issue. The story ended with Carl, now 20-something years older, sharing his father's trials with his own child, a sequence likely to be inherited by Carl's younger sister Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) in the show.
"In the comics, Carl lives until the end. So I didn't think that Carl's story would end at any point," Riggs said at FAN EXPO Vancouver. "I found out when we were doing rehearsals for episode 6 of Season 8."
That episode, "The King, the Widow, and Rick," saw Carl locate lone survivor Siddiq (Avi Nash) after he was scared off by a cautious Rick (Andrew Lincoln), at the time in the midst of the war against Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his Saviors. While helping Siddiq put down walkers, Carl ended up with an incurable walker bite that forced him to commit suicide three episodes later in "Honor."
"I was pretty bummed out at the time, but now I get to go on and do other things," Riggs said of his career as an actor and musician. "It's fun, it's really fun being able to explore other roles and be able to actually audition for films and whatnot. When I was on the show, I was locked into the show. I couldn't do anything else. So it's really cool to be able to do other things in the meantime when I'm not working."
"I love acting, I love being an actor and exploring new things," he added. "It's a lot of fun."
Since the airing of Carl's death episode in 2018, Riggs has joined ABC drama A Million Little Things and appeared opposite Josh Hartnett and Bruce Dern in feature film Inherit the Viper. A trailer for Riggs' next project, sci-fi Only, was recently released.
Kirkman previously said he's "not at all bothered" Carl was killed off on the television show, saying on a 2018 episode of Talking Dead such major deviations from the comic book make him "more excited."
"I like that everything is different and they change it up," Kirkman explained during last year's San Diego Comic-Con. "I definitely have conversations with [TWD chief creative officer] Scott Gimplewhere I say, 'If we lose this, you lose this,' but he says, 'Yes, then we gain this.' The audience doesn't get to see that, so it can be tough when a major character dies and we have a plan."
"I hold that I've endorsed everything, for better or worse. If you're mad about something that happens on the show, please be mad at Scott Gimple," Kirkman joked of the former showrunner, adding, "but I am a little bit culpable."
TWD Season 10 returns with new episodes Feb. 23 on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.