"There are big, huge stories coming up that you might think will be massively altered because of the absence of Carl," Kirkman told EW. "But we have known these story lines have been coming for years. There are plans in place to make it all work. The loss of Carl doesn't necessarily mean that we're going to be losing big swaths of the comic book story. It means that there will be some differences to them. The goal is that those differences will be as exciting to the audience as they are to me."
Immediately, comic book readers think of the Whisperer War story when Carl is ruled out. The character played a major part in the arc which saw Rick and Alexandria's surrounding communities pitted against a savage bunch. In fact, Carl's actions with the Whisperer leader Alpha's daughter Lydia were a major proponent of the war beginning in the first place. Kirkman, however, seems to believe the TV series will have no trouble adapting such a story -- or moving forward without it.
"I know that some fans online have been very upset, but that's by design," Kirkman said. "We're not supposed to be happy when these characters die. We are supposed to be worried about what comes next, and anticipating what comes next, and stressing about what comes next. That just shows that you're engaged and you're interested. Our job is to now pay that off and fulfill that interest, and prove that this was a decision worth making. That's what we've got to do."
The ripple effect has been felt by the cast, as well. "This is bigger than any other death that we've ever had and we realize that as it plays out in the back eight," Rick actor Andrew Lincoln told ComicBook.com. "The back eight is completely different from the front eight. This episode happens and everything changes. We spin off into a completely different new world."
The Walking Dead returns for the second half of its eighth season on February 25, 2018. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.