Why “The Walking Dead” Dies With Carl Grimes


Photo Credit: Carl-Poppa


If you’re like a lot of fans, you’ve developed a strained relationship with AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Based on a graphic novel of the same name created by Robert Kirkman, the show was met with lackluster reviews when it debuted in 2010. Hobbled by its tight budget and PG leash, it seemed that “The Walking Dead” was doomed to fail and be reduced to nothing but a blip on AMC’s already strong TV lineup. But the rich source material and the talent of actors like Andrew Lincoln and Jon Bernthal shone through. By season 5, “TWD” had managed to become a primetime heavy hitter in its own right. But now it seems that we have already passed the crest of its popularity wave and are spiraling downwards towards its demise.

But the waning interest of fans isn’t new — and show runner Scott Gimple and his writers know it. Since the fake-out death of Glenn and the real death of Beth, fans have been feeling like the writers constantly write themselves into corners that can only be escaped through cheap tricks. Their repeated use of rushed cliffhangers, shameless fan service, and their most recent sleight of hand regarding the demise of Carl just demonstrates that they too are aware we have reached the end of an era. Sure, the fat lady hasn’t sung, but they’re definitely refreshing their resumes.

“Raise your hand if you believe that killing Carl Grimes is a mistake”


But it’s hard to say exactly when and how the show started to decline so rapidly. One glaring issues is that the writers and Scott Gimple don’t know how to properly translate the material from which they are pulling. This is especially obvious when it comes to their handling of the less grounded-in-reality characters like King Ezekiel or the Trash People. Listening to them speak can only be compared to hearing nails on a chalkboard. Let’s not even get started on Ezekiel’s felt disaster excuse for a wig. The second is the budget. Despite its overwhelming commercial success, AMC has always been tight on the purse strings. Even though dressing a mini army of the dead seems like a much more justified expense than recreating a 70’s an ad agency break room, “TWD” always had to fight for the same budget per episode as “Mad Men.”

To be fair, it has been rumored that Chandler Riggs had wanted to leave the show for a while before being written off, with the common line being that Riggs was looking to take a break from acting to focus on school. But these rumors were quickly dispelled when Riggs’s own father wrote:

“Watching Gimple fire my son two weeks before his 18th birthday after telling him they wanted him for the next three years was disappointing… I never trusted Gimple or AMC but Chandler did. I know how much it hurt him. But we do absolutely know how lucky we have been to be a part of it all and appreciate all the love from fans all these years!” So, the fact that Chandelier didn’t want to leave at all makes this choice by Gimple & Co. even more bizarre. And reveals even more about his and AMC’s attitude toward the show.

Sure, Gimple’s camp has mumbled out half-baked excuses like “we needed a reason for Rick to make the choice he makes in regard to whether or not he kills Negan” or “Carl’s story can still be told by other characters,” but the fact remains. “The Walking Dead” was a story already signed off on by fans. Carl surviving was never among the top list of gripes that readers had with the graphic novel. So again, why reinvent the wheel for the sake of shock?

There are some fans holding out hope. That somehow Carl hasn’t actually been bitten or he is immune. But his fate and thus the trajectory of the show has been sealed by Gimple. For some reason, they thought it okay to write out arguably the most important character on “The Walking Dead.” In fact, most fans of both the TV show and graphic novels would have hands-down agreed that Rick would’ve died before Carl. He represented the last of the humanity in Rick and the future of the post-apocalyptic world. Regardless, we’re at a point in television where there isn’t any room for these kinds of choices. There’s quality content oozing out of every streaming platform and “The Walking Dead” is all out of chances.

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