The Walking Dead: Carl Grimes Was Bitten by a Zombie Three Years Ago Today

As you sink your teeth into dinner on Thanksgiving 2020, remember that The Walking Dead took a bite out of Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) on this day three years ago in "The King, the Widow, and Rick." In the season 8 episode taking place amid All Out War against Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors, Carl catches up with the lone survivor scared off by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in "Mercy." When the stranger (Avi Nash) tells Carl that he's put down more than 200 walkers — a way of honoring his mother, who believed the practice freed the souls of the dead — Carl offers to help Siddiq kill walkers before escorting him to Alexandria.

While Siddiq wrestles with a walker over the carcass of a half-eaten elk, accidentally pushing Carl into the path of a bumbling biter, Carl topples backward and shoves the zombie aside to fend off a second skinbag. The first biter goes for Carl's side, but he guns down his would-be devourers and seemingly escapes the struggle without a scratch.

It's not until the midseason finale, "How It's Gotta Be," that a zombie-bitten Carl reveals his wound to parents Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira) in the sewers beneath Alexandria. In the midseason premiere, "Honor," we learn the cause of Carl's untreatable zombie bite when a flashback to the forest scuffle shows a walker sinking its teeth into Carl's abdomen. The episode ends with Carl committing suicide to avoid succumbing to his wound and reanimating.

Riggs later poked fun at Carl's death when replying to the official Walking Dead account on Instagram, where he shared advice for Carl's younger half-siblings Judith (Cailey Fleming) and RJ (Antony Azor): "'Just don't trip into a deer carcass while fighting a bunch of walkers and you'll be fine.'"

According to Riggs, who starred on The Walking Dead since its first episode in 2010, he found out about Carl's looming death while performing rehearsals for "The King, the Widow, and Rick," which would premiere on AMC on November 26, 2017.

"I found out [when] we got the script for episode six, when [the bite] was supposed to happen," Riggs said during a 2018 convention appearance. "We were doing rehearsals for it and then, after the rehearsals, [then-showrunner] Scott Gimple brought me in and then told me. He said, 'That's why you kind of act weird after you trip, because [the bite] happens.'"


As recently as this summer, Riggs said he is "absolutely" open to returning to the Walking Dead Universe — whether that be through a flashback, dream sequence, or hallucination — and that "we'll see" if he's reunited with TV dad Andrew Lincoln in the Walking Dead feature films.

The Walking Dead returns with new episodes on February 28, 2021, on AMC. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD.