Walking Dead fans who still can’t wrap their minds around the idea of a series without Carl Grimes have been performing mental gymnastics in an effort to figure out how the seminal character (played by Chandler Riggs) could survive being bitten by a zombie (as was revealed in the Season 8 midseason finale). Just last week, I wrote an editorial outlining 5 possible Cark Grimes survival scenarios—although none of them seemed particularly likely.
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Then it hit me like a ton of bricks; a new theory that’s either preposterous or immensely possible—especially if you believe The Walking Dead can’t survive without Carl. Hear me out: Showrunner Scott M. Gimple must have known killing-off Carl could potentially trigger a fan revolt resulting in a mass exodus. So, what if he never planned on eliminating Carl? What if he only planned on making Carl disappear for a little while?
Is Carl Grimes Faking His Death to Remind Rick of His Humanity?
Earlier this season, Carl became deeply concerned about his father, Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln) after he shot at a scavenger looking for food. It seems to Carl that Rick is losing his humanity and that the All-Out War won’t be worth winning if people become the things they hate the most. Carl later befriended the scavenger, Siddiq (played by Avi Nash), and tells him “You’re my responsibility now”.
Knowing that Rick won’t allow any new followers, as he’s become obsessed with killing Negan (Jeffery Dean Morgan) and the Saviors, Carl decides to show him what life would be like if he died; this will, hopefully, melt his father’s icy heart. He asks his new friend Saddiq to bite him, giving him a real wound, but not a fatal one.
Since we saw clips of Rick mourning at a grave in previews for Season 8 Episode 9, we can assume that Carl went through with his plan. In this scenario, Carl would have asked his father not to kill him, but instead allow him to voluntarily exile himself before he turns. Thus, Rick will be mourning at an empty grave, nonetheless believing Carl is really dead.
So, where will Carl go? He’ll strike out on his own in an effort to find himself, disappearing for months or years. It’s during this time that he’ll meet The Whisperers and fall in love with a member of their clan. This will lead to The Whisperer War story-arch in future seasons. Also, this means that it really is Carl in the Old Man Rick flash-forward; by that point, he’ll have come home.
What do you think Walking Dead fans? Is Carl Grimes faking his own death to teach Rick a lesson? Let the debates begin!
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Official Synopsis: Last season Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his group of survivors were confronted with their deadliest challenge yet. With the comfort of Alexandria, they let their guard down, only to be reminded how brutal the world they live in can be.
Feeling powerless under Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) rules and demands, Rick advocated the group play along. But seeing that Negan couldn’t be reasoned with, Rick began rallying together other communities affected by the Saviors. And with the support of the Hilltop and Kingdom, they finally have enough fire power to contest the Saviors.
This season Rick brings “All Out War” to Negan and his forces. The Saviors are larger, better-equipped, and ruthless — but Rick and the unified communities are fighting for the promise of a brighter future. The battle lines are drawn as they launch into a kinetic, action-packed offensive.
Up until now, survival has been the focus of Rick and our group, but it’s not enough. They have to fight to take back their freedom so that they can live. So that they can rebuild. As with any battle, there will be losses. Casualties. But with Rick leading the Alexandrian forces, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) leading the Hilltop, and King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) leading the Kingdom — Negan and the Saviors’ grip on this world may finally be coming to an end.
Season 8 of The Walking Dead and Red Machete return Sunday, February 25th.
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