This week sees the return of The Walking Dead, and after the shocking reveal of Carl Grimes’ (Chandler Riggs) demise, showrunner Scott Gimple has spoken on the reasons why the choice was made to kill off one of the show’s most integral characters.

Since the show’s first season back in 2010, the character of Carl has been something of a focal point in the story. Becoming a shocking depiction of how the post-apocalyptic world has corrupted the group, Chandler Riggs’ character began as a fresh-faced innocent little boy, into a one-eyed teenager who has inherited his father’s reckless streak and cutthroat survival instinct.

However, the mid-season finale of Season 8 saw the show’s audience rocked to their core, when it was revealed that a bitten Carl had very little time left. Speaking to TV Line, Scott Gimple opened up about why he decided to kill off one of The Walking Dead’s longest-serving characters:

“We wanted to tell a version of the comic story that kept emotions similar to what you’d get when reading the [source material] but in different ways, so that the comic-book-reading audience didn’t expect what was going to happen. We plan to do that moving forward as well — sometimes pulling moments from the book in sort of verbatim ways and sometimes in ways that are very different, with the goal of heightening the message in some way. Carl’s death fell into that [category]. This in many ways is sort of the ending of an era for The Walking Dead and the starting of a new one.”

Given that Carl still has a major role in the comics – and is still alive in the current Issue #176 – the decision wasn’t only shocking to the audience, but seemed to mess up the whole idea of the show’s future. Angela Kang will be taking over as showrunner in Season 9, so she’ll be picking up the pieces, but fans have been promised that Carl’s comicbook storyline will continue with other characters.

Suffice to say, the rest of the cast must be feeling a sudden lack of job security.

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