Lori and Carl Grimes are dead.
The Grimes clan has been whittled down to two, leaving behind just patriarch Rick Grimes and daughter Judith Grimes, the product of an affair between Lori and Rick's former best friend and partner Shane Walsh.
Lori and Shane's love child has been fully embraced by Rick, who considers Judith his child — regardless of her true parentage — something Rick did since first acknowledging her illegitimacy back on the Greene farm.
Rick Grimes is a man whose entire post-apocalypse existence has centered around keeping his family safe, and now he's lost the only two ties he had to the world before it all went to sh*t.
And Don't You Know That It's Just You, Hey Judith, You'll Do
Despite the severity of those cut ties, not all is lost: the Grimes family has taken a new form with precious daughter Judith and matriarch Michonne, who Carl came to see as a mother-like figure.
Lori, who was impregnated by Shane in the early days of the apocalypse, perished back at the prison after encountering complications during childbirth.
Now Carl, two-something years later, met his end after succumbing to a fever brought on by a fatal walker bite. With no way out, Carl turned his gun on himself — a final act of selflessness to spare Rick and Michonne having to squeeze the trigger themselves.
With both Lori and Carl dead, have Shane's words come true?prevnext
Rick vs Shane
Season two saw Shane butt heads with de facto group leader Rick, freshly returned from his presumed death in a Georgia hospital.
Shane, who had usurped Rick's role in his absence, took the role seriously, playing daddy to a young Carl and having impromptu whoopie sessions with mommy in the bushes.
With Rick returned and Shane ousted from his newfound role as the esteemed protector of the Grimes clan, things boiled over with the close-knit buddies as they came to blows in a high school parking lot.
"I don't think you can do it, Rick," Shane said, throwing the words in Rick's face. "I don't think you can keep them safe."
A knock-down, drag out fight left the former partners battered and bloodied — only for Rick to save Shane's ass from a closing-in pack of flesh hungry walkers.
They seemed to come to an understanding: "That is my son. That is my unborn child. I will stay alive to keep them alive."prevnext
Rick vs. Shane: Dawn of Just Us
A short time later, a crazed Shane did the unthinkable and lured Rick into the woods outside the Greene farm in an attempt to murder Rick and pin his death on a captured outsider.
Shane taunted Rick, goading him into a violent confrontation.
"I thought you weren't the good guy anymore," Shane said. Ain't that what you said? Even right here, right now, you ain't gonna fight for 'em?"
He kept pushing.
"I'm a better father than you, Rick. I'm better for Lori than you, man. It's 'cause I'm a better man than you, Rick."
Rick stabbed Shane to death and his reanimated corpse was put down for good by Carl.prevnext
M'Ask You Somethin', Shane. Ever Hear Of Protection?
Shane was wrong about Rick because neither Lori nor Carl's deaths were on his hands.
Lori died because Shane recklessly knocked her up during the most tumultuous period in the history of the world.
Carl ultimately died because the values instilled within him by his parents — his mother and his actual father — inspired him to be a good person, the kind of person who selflessly ventures outside the walls of safety to retrieve a lone stranger in need of help.
Shane was proved wrong by a dying Carl, who in his final moments said to Rick, "thanks for getting me here."
Rick got his boy as close to paradise as you can get in a world overrun by the undead: a walled-off suburban community filled with people, houses and accompanying running water and electricity. Rick gave Carl a home.
Rick killed for Carl. Rick bit into a neck for Carl. And, more than anything, true to Lori's last words, Rick didn't let this world ruin Carl.
Shane was wrong. F—k Shane.prevnext
What Comes Next
"I think it's seismic, everything that drove Rick from the first episode, everything, his engine, was his family," says Rick Grimes actor Andrew Lincoln in a featurette released by AMC. "I'm trying to figure out how he moves on from here."
"Rick Grimes doesn't have his son anymore," Lincoln added, saying there's "nothing more terrifying" than someone who has lost everything.
The loss of his son will bring about an irrevocable change in Rick Grimes, according to co-executive producer Denise Huth.
"That I think has always been so critical to the show, and losing that I think changes Rick in ways we can't even imagine yet," Huth said. "Not having [Carl] here to sort of be his mirror."2comments
Lincoln is more blunt: "I think he will come back and he will be willing to lose every part of himself to wreak vengeance on this."
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.prev