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The Walking Dead: Chandler Riggs Appeared On-Screen in the Finale – Did You Catch It?

Published on November 23rd, 2022 | Updated on November 23rd, 2022 | By FanFest

Many original Walking Dead characters returned for the show’s final episode — in voice form, at least. Actors like Steven Yeun, Laurie Holden, Michael Cudlitz, and Sonequa Martin-Green joined Andrew Lincoln’s Rick and Danai Gurira’s Michonne in proclaiming “We’re the ones who live.” But one actor went even further than that.

Chandler Riggs, who originally played Rick’s son Carl Grimes in season 1 but was killed off in season 8, actually had a key scene– even though you probably didn’t see him.

In the final scene at the Hilltop, Lauren Cohan’s Maggie tells Norman Reedus’ Daryl and Melissa McBride’s Carol, “I want to talk about the future. There’s a lot out here to find out about. And I think it’s time we did.” But those were not the only old-school Walking Dead actors milling about Hilltop for that scene.

“Chandler was in the scene at Hilltop,” says Cohan. “He was in the background as a Hilltopper farming.” That’s right, the prodigal son returned! But how did it happen?

“Chandler Riggs was in town and he just asked to visit to say hi to friends,” says showrunner Angela Kang. “I had such a good time hanging with him on set, and it was just really nice to see him. And then they were doing these scenes and needed some extras, and Greg was like, ‘Well, you want to go for it? Get in there! Go get in the back.'”

“That was our last day of shooting and Chandler wanted to come visit,” says Greg Nicotero, who also has been with the show since the very beginning and directed the series finale. “And I looked at him and I went, ‘Hey, you. Take that, go stand in the back of that shot.’ It wasn’t planned. I don’t even think we put wardrobe on him. I think he was just wearing whatever he wore when he came to set. We’re just like, ‘Throw him in the background.’ I think we gave him a hat to disguise him a little bit.”

Indeed, they did, as the photo above proves. “It was great,” says Reedus of the impromptu background cameo. “They’re trying to hide him in the scene, and I kept trying to move my head like I’m looking at him to sort draw the audience’s attention to, ‘Hey, there’s Chandler over there!’ Which I don’t think anybody really wanted me to do, but I thought it was funny so I kept trying to do it.”

To a person, the cast and crew were thrilled to have Riggs — who grew up on set — back on their final day of shooting. “God, it was great to see him,” says Nicotero. “And we were so grateful that he came down.” Says Cohan, “Chandler is such an amazing guy. He’s just really lovely. It was a class act for him to come that day.”

EW caught up with Riggs—who recently appeared on ABC’s A Million Little Things and will soon be seen in the independent film The Undergraduate—to chat about his big (and super sneaky!) return to The Walking Dead screen.

Chandler Riggs – The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 13 _ BTS – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, how did you end up back on set?

CHANDLER RIGGS: Well, I heard they were shooting the last episode, and I thought, “I feel like I should be there. It’d be so great to see all the old crew and the old cast and new cast that are all there.” And basically, I felt like I should just be there for it. So I texted executive producer Denise Huth and was just like, “Hey, can you let me know the final day of filming? I’d love to be there for it. I’ll be in Georgia, and it’d be great to come by.” And so she sent me the dates, and I made the trek down to Senoia, Georgia.

And apparently Denise hadn’t told anybody that I was coming, and I didn’t realize that. [Laughs] So I showed up, and Denise told the rest of the cast, “So I told you guys I had a surprise for you on the last day. Here it is!” And I’m just like, “Hey, guys!” And it was so just wholesome.

What did it feel like to be back?

It was probably about half of the same crew was there from when I left, so it was great seeing all those guys again, and all the cast and producers and everyone. It was really incredible. I had showed up early when they started filming because I didn’t have anything else to do that day. So I figured, “Well, I’ll just head on down, and I’ll be there for the whole day.” And so, I was just hanging out in Video Village.

So how did you end up on screen?

It was for one of their wide shots, and they were like, “Let’s get you in there. Here!” I was just in this shirt and jeans that I came down there in. They grabbed a hat from wardrobe. It was like Father Gabriel’s hat! And they gave me a hoe and said, “Be a part of the background for one of the last shots.” And they just tossed me back there, and I just did some hoeing in the ground in the background. [Laughs] It was a lot of fun. It was just a quick thing before the rest of the filming for the day, so it was pretty cool.


I love that you were not only able to be there for the finale, but for the last day of filming, and for a day where Norman, Melissa, and Lauren — who all were on the show with you for so long — were all there.

Yeah, to see all of them get wrapped on the show and just to hear those words of, “That’s a wrap,” on the series for everyone, that was just so wild to be there for it.

Was this your first time back on set since Carl’s death back in season 8?

Yeah, it was my first time. My last day was in August of 2017, but I came back probably about two months later for some pickups. But that was my first time back since I was working there. It was really awesome getting to be there for their last scenes on the show and hear their big speech at the end about how much the show has meant to them.

And it was so cool to see how welcomed the new cast was, to be honest. All the new folks that had come in and been a part of the show for the last couple years, it was like they had been on the show for 10 years. It was really cool to see just all of them be just as welcoming as I was on that set by Norman and Lauren and their whole crew and everyone. I think that was the thing that stood out to me the most.

When they cut on the last shot, they blasted confetti, and everyone was cheering, and it was a really, really cool moment, and I’m really happy I got to be there for that.

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