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The Walking Dead: Carl’s Death Sent the Show into a Ratings Nosedive, as the Worst Death in Show’s History

Published on February 3rd, 2021 | Updated on February 3rd, 2021 | By FanFest

Carl Grimes was the future of The Walking Dead. Don’t believe me? (Spoilers Ahead!) Carl’s death was also the biggest error in the writing of the series. Still don’t believe me?

Chandler Riggs, who portrayed Carl for 8 seasons didn’t want to leave and Carl Grimes was never supposed to die.

The Source Material

The Walking Dead comic book creator, Robert Kirkman, surprised readers this year when he abruptly ended the book at number 183. The book follows Rick Grimes’ story. However, as Rick aged and became disabled, it was clear that Carl was the future of book and even took on more focus with time. After Rick’s death in the comics, Carl was the focus and the future. Ultimately, in the final book, it was clear that Carl was the central character and gave credit to Rick’s legacy. Carl’s ability to now live and grow up in a civilized world was Rick’s ultimate achievement.

As well, the current story lines on The Walking Dead, the Whisperers, Lydia, and the future story line, with the Commonwealth, all find Carl as the central character in the comics. Henry took on Carl’s story with Lydia on the show. Judith took on Carl’s story with the relationship with Negan. And, who knows who will take on the story line with the Commonwealth now that both Carl and Rick are no longer on the show.

The Show’s Material

Season 8 saw the death of Carl Grimes after he was bitten in the side while protecting Saddiq (Avi Nash). Yes, the episodes with his passing were difficult to watch. The mourning of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) was gut wrenching. Additionally, watching other characters mourn was equally difficult. However, it didn’t make his death and the timing of his death right in the minds of viewers and for the purpose of telling the overall story of The Walking Dead.

Remember when Lori died? Remember Rick post-Lori? He was a freaking disaster. The impact of Carl’s death did not appear to impact him nearly as it did when Lori died.

Over the course of 8 seasons, Carl’s safety and well-being were the focus for Rick. He wanted to build a future for his son. How many countless times did other individuals sacrifice for Carl? Yes, Judith was also alive, but Carl was the future leader and he was learning from his father how to do so.

The Walking Dead: Carl's Death Sent the Show into a Ratings Nosedive, as the Worst Death in Show's History
Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Carl’s death served absolutely no purpose on the show. Carl sacrificed for Siddiq’s safety and Siddiq is now dead. Saddiq was a doctor and did do some positive things but did it really move the story along further or change the world?

The show seemed to force the perspective that his death would somehow create a truce between Rick and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and their respective groups. However, it didn’t, as it still resulted in fighting.

So what is Carl’s legacy? Maybe the only thing is that he saved Siddiq so Siddiq could father a child. Does that child become something special to the world of The Walking Dead? If so, there is absolutely no emphasis on the child. And, it’s going to take a really long time to develop that story.

The Walking Dead: Carl's Death Sent the Show into a Ratings Nosedive, as the Worst Death in Show's History
Walker Stalker Con/Heather Millsap

Chandler Riggs

Chandler Riggs didn’t want to leave The Walking Dead. Between statements made by Chandler and those made by his father, Will Riggs, it was clear that Chandler did not want to leave. Rumors and accusations of contract disputes, money, and other terms abound. However, it is curious the timing of his contract with his death.

There have been clear, defining moments on The Walking Dead where viewers stopped watching in large chunks: the deaths of Abraham and Glenn, the death of Carl, and the departure of Rick Grimes. These moments are always telling, as they signal viewers’ displeasure in the show, which is the greatest evidence of if the creatives got the story right. Carl Grimes didn’t have to die. Chandler Riggs didn’t have to leave. And, The Walking Dead would be in a better place right now with him on the show.

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51 thoughts on “The Walking Dead: Carl’s Death Sent the Show into a Ratings Nosedive, as the Worst Death in Show’s History

  1. THANK YOU! I quit watching TWD the day I found out they killed off Carl, and haven’t watched it since. It was bad writing, and the EP’s should’ve been fired for it. Carl WAS the future and should’ve continued to be the future.

  2. Amen! I loved the show until they killed off Carl. I have not watched since his last scene and won’t. It has no point without him now. Thank you for writing this as it is the same thinking as many former viewers.

  3. Preaching to the choir. Carl’s death was some bit of petulance on the part of the “powers that be”, I suspect, and WRONG in every way. It wasn’t even a believable accident. Made me think of Adric in Doctor Who, when the producer got annoyed with the actor. I don’t think Rick would have left the show, with all his legitimate reasons, if they hadn’t killed Carl. Glenn and Abraham’s unnecessary deaths, with the lack of the big “pay off” we were promised as the reason it had to happen– those were a knife to my heart. When Carl died the show was over. Rick walked away… can’t blame him (and I miss him). Now the show itself is truly the Walking Dead… just doesn’t know when to fall down. Too bad. So much potential, so many stories left to tell… But the stories of the survivors we were following are over, and what’s left is emptiness.

  4. 100% Agree with this article! We Love and miss Carl so much! What they did to him was so wrong! Bad Bad Writing! Thank you for doing this article so glad somebody finally said it!!!

  5. Everything said here Finally I’ve said it since Carl died. Have not watched that episode and since then my excitement for the series is faded.

  6. It was indeed a mistake to kill off Carl. No changing that but I stopped watching it, or should I say I”tried”, watching it. Rick took his son’s death very mildly compared to his entire being to protect Carl’s future! Damn shame!

  7. Scott MF Gimple. What did the kid ever do to you? I was so pissed when Carl died. What purpose did his death serve, other than completely go off balance with the storyline as presented by the CREATOR, RK? Scott, you’ve shown that you’re not only not perfect, you’re unstable!

  8. It was the worst thing that ever happened on The Walking Dead. I just about quit watching and the show has never been the same since. Dumbest move they ever made.

  9. I stopped watching TWD the day that Rick “left” without carl and Rick their isn’t no such thing as TWD and I use to watch it religiously TWD was my church TWD was my everything but now life goes on for me without the walking dead lol I even closed my TWD site on Facebook after they left

  10. I knew I wasn’t the only one stopping watching the show once Carl died, the show got hurt really bad, it was agonizing… and got killed when Rick disappear, making half of the viewers disappear with him too.

  11. I LOVE this article! It states exactly what I’ve said about Carls, Abes and Glenns deaths. I actually go back even further to Beth’s demise. I know she wasnt typically a fan favorite, but I saw something change in Daryl when they were on the road together. I would’ve like to see that relationship blossom for Daryl bc Beth wasn’t afraid to tell him how HE felt, and I think that really helped him open up and he liked the feeling it gave him. YES, I had shipped them. Who cares abt their age difference, it was an apocalypse, rules change. It wasn’t like Beth was a little girl, and Daryl isn’t pursuant of women so I think he would have treated her well. Anyway, sorry to get off subject….I have only watched the episode with Abe and Glenns deaths the one time it aired, and its the only episode I’ve only watched once throughout the entire series. Then Carls death pushed me further away (totally pointless) and Ricks departure sent me reeling. I have hung in there as a loyal fan, and because I am waiting to see if the words of Beth Greene will hold true. “Daryl will be the last man standing” and based on the original Atlanta crew, he already is. I don’t crave this show like I once used to, and that is because of the writers. How do you take a show that has exploded from day 1, and continuously kill off the characters that helped it get to where it is (or was)? The excuse that its the walking dead and everyone dies doesn’t work for me. Its a story of survival, the lead characters should have survived a little longer, and their deaths should have had more meaning. Most of them had plenty of story left in them.

  12. Thank you!!! I will NEVER forgive Gimple for that! This is not the only mistake he made, but was certainly the biggest! I can’t believe AMC hasn’t fired him yet, but no, they put all forms of TWD in his hands. This is a classic case of “failing upwards”.

  13. I too believe that killing off Carl was a fatal mistake, I do still watch still trying to get back that feeling the show first had for me but it’s just not there , true
    Fan till the end but the feelings gone

  14. I haven’t watched it since Carl’s death either. There was no point to. The future leader was dead.

  15. I too stopped watching TWD after Carl died. With some of the best characters killed off, I thought it fitting not to watch the show anymore. To me, Carl’s death was the end of The Walking Dead.

  16. I stopped watching when they killed off Glenn but then I decided after awhile I was going to just suck it up and watch it again. Only to find out Carl grimes dies so hell naw this show went to the pooper. I’m surprised this show is still going I was in shock.

  17. It was the biggest mistake Gimple did killing off Carl.Ive been saying it for years.It in turn made Rick leave and so many viewers with him.Carl was supposed to be the future. I stopped watching when Rick left and never went back.If they don’t bring Rick back for the final season you might as well cancel it now.It all started with Rick it should end with Rick.The saddest part for me is it was my favorite show.Now I keep looking for news of Rick’s return. Carl survived being shot losing a eye only to die from a bite we never even saw how disgusting.

  18. I was done after Carl’s dead and Rick leaving the show. What a waste of talent. I can’t get into it as much I love Carol and Daryl. Rick was and Carl were the heart of the show.

  19. Everyone that has read the comics, self included, knew Carl was not supposed die yet. It has not been the same. I used to make sure I watched the episode as it aired. Now I record it and watch whenever.. Heck, people used to say my son looked like Carl for years. Even as he got older, my son grew his hair out like Carl..

  20. You LOST a WHOLE very large multi-generational family and extended family (13 children, 39 grandchildren and 3 great- granchildren! Plus all of our friends, who ALL loved TWD and FTWD!!!) Bad choices!!! We all quit when Carl died and now WE DON’TMISS IT!!!

  21. Carl’s death was possibly their biggest mistake but not the only mistake. There were many. While I generally agree with this article I also have to say they killed too many people too fast, choked off storylines before they truly developed and blew the concept of building a new world for future generations by killing most of said gen. Not only that but what cop loses that many fights that badly and give characters remarkable talents and then not use them? Many things could have been done better.

  22. Yes…..killing Carl so soon was one of their biggest mistakes.Killing Glenn and Abraham didn’t really help much either,but when they wrote Rick off what a HUGE mistake that was.The Walking Dead’s ratings went down.Great story lines with the Whisperers was good.Negan killing Alpha was awsome!! But the ratings still went down.
    I think the only thing that could save them is to bring Rick and Machine back and somehow sneak Carl back or let Rick have memories of Carl.I think Carol and Daryl really held held the show above water.
    Its so very sad that The Walking Dead is ending when not to long ago they said the story line could go on for years and years.
    I truly hate what the writers did.

  23. I loved the show until they killed Carl! He was the future of the show and showed more strength than others! I say, bring back Carl and you will have better ratings!

  24. I was sad for Rick and Michonne as they grieved the loss of Carl but he was not one of my fave characters so I did not stop watching because he was killed off. I kind of lost interest a bit because of The Whisperers. Just seemed implausible to me that so many of them would choose to live that way (yuck) and follow Alpha. I have to say though that Alpha was played brilliantly by whoever that actress is!!
    Judith way more likeable than Carl but he probably didn’t need to die.

  25. Yes that was a bad mood and I remember when Lori told Carl he was going to beat this world a way better story to love out instead of saving sadiq

  26. The ratings price it. Killing off all the invested characters like Carl that doesn’t move the story along just makes viewers disappointed and quit watching it.

  27. You are all right. The show really started to fall apart after the death of Carl. Meaningless comes to mind along with fragmented story telling and new characters nobody really cares about. But after Rick left things became even worse. The show became wildly uninteresting. Really too bad considering the incredible run it had.

  28. Carl is missed, but not to the degree I am hearing. Sorry! Rick’s departure was far more damaging to the show, than Carl dying off. We survived that, and the lost of so many wonderful actors that have made The Walking Dead the great show it’s been over all these years. Carl is a fine young actor and no doubt will do much more over the coming years. This was a great start for his resume, I would think. Less than 30 more episodes and The Walking Dead will be no more. Now that is something to cry about. A faithful fan!

  29. So much disappointed when carl was died…! Im walking dead fanatic of course when the original cast died their characters like Glenn, abraham, tara, enid, and carl. When i watch season 9 and season 10, less appetite to watch twd i always find the main casts. Im not contented !

  30. Glenn and Abraham’s death were epic, awesome, and very necessary. They both die in the comics, and give way to the new era with Negan. Just because you didn’t like how Glenn and Abraham died doesn’t mean it wasn’t necessary. It was. You just couldn’t handle it.

  31. The show lost its soul after this. That, and when Rick “died.” Haven’t watched it since.

  32. You can’t keep getting rid of so many characters we are invested in and expect us to stay and want to care about any more.

  33. I quit watching when Carl was killed off too! Wtf were they thinking?? It almost seems like someone was personally trying to sabotage the success of the show!? And this whole Rick movie thing is BS! It never going to happen!

  34. Talk about bad writing. This article didn’t even get the correct ‘word’ in its headline. But agreed, killing Carl, especially deviating from the comics by doing so, was a bad decision. Think of all the wonderful scenes Carl and Judith could’ve had together.

  35. They dragged out the Negan & Saviors storyline season 7 & 8. Then they killed off Carl but once Rick left the show that was it for me. I watched TWD from day one but they blew it.

  36. They dragged out the Negan & Saviors storyline season 7 & 8. Then they killed off Carl but once Rick left the show that was it for me. I watched TWD from day one but they blew it.

  37. But sooooo many people that don’t die in the comics (yet) were killed before their time in the tv show. It’s weird to not follow the comics by killing characters for shock value and then also kill characters that die in the comics. At some point you are left with a cast that literally no one cares about.

  38. I was extremely ticked off when they killed Carl. I have all the comics and pretty much knew what was gonna happen each show. I was excited to see how they would make each comic come to life each week. When they decided to abruptly change it so much as to kill Carl, I stopped caring. I still watch just to see what happens to Carol and Daryl, but I don’t care if I watch it while it is airing or a day or 2 later on dvr.. I got more interested in watching Morgan save everyone on FEAR..

    #Gimple was stupid killing Carl

  39. I totally agree clear back to Beth something shifted on the whole show at that point my boys were devastated by the graphic deaths of Glen and Abraham no way did it have to be so extreme though we reeled past it when Carl died and Neagan still was allowed to live our whole family left the show that meant so much as something our teen boys would actually participate with us in very sad and very BAD Writing

  40. They CAN’T bring someone back who got bit by a zombie and then shot himself in the head lol

  41. I agree killing Carl Grimes was a foolish mistake and because of that I stopped watching walking dead after Rick Grimes left show sucks without Carl and Rick Grimes ty.

  42. I personally stopped watching walking dead after Carl Grimes was killed off show sucks now I was heartbroken about Carl and sad when Rick Grimes left tyvm


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