'Walking Dead' Boss Cements Iconic Character's Fate: "That Is a One-Way Ticket"

Showrunner Scott M. Gimple confirmed the looming fate of a fan favorite during Sunday's 'Talking Dead.'
Gene Page/AMC

[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from episode 808, "How It's Gotta Be," of AMC's The Walking Dead as well as the comic book series on which the show is based.]

Sunday's supersized The Walking Dead midseason finale closed the book on season eight for the year with one of its biggest episodes ever.

The AMC zombie drama based on Robert Kirkman's comics of the same name set the stage for the shocking death of one of the franchise's most important characters: Carl (Chandler Riggs). The son of the show's central hero, Rick (Andrew Lincoln), revealed in the closing moments that he had sustained a walker bite a few episodes back and was indeed dying.

For his part, Riggs tells The Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive interview that showrunner Scott M. Gimple informed him in June that Carl was being killed off. Riggs' final episode will be the Feb. 25 season-eight midseason premiere in which Carl will take his final breaths as the show enters unprecedented territory as the character — in the comics and now formerly on the show — was considered Rick's heir apparent and the future of the new world.

"That is a bite on his side.… It will play out as bites play out on the show," Gimple said Sunday on AMC's post-show Talking Dead. "It's very important to Carl's story and the entire story, what happens in the next episode. I'm just focused on the fact that Carl right now is alive and he has some business to attend to. That is a one-way ticket. But I'd like to think that the things we see in the next episode are so important to his life and the other characters' lives."

Host Chris Hardwick acknowledged just how big Carl's looming death is, calling it a "radical" departure from the source material. The series, during its weekly in memoriam segment, also included a nod to Carl: "Carl, you've been with us...since the very beginning. And we'll be with you...until the very end."

"Throughout the series Carl has been in Rick's shadow and learning form him and observing him," Riggs said in a prerecorded video on Talking Dead. "He sees when Rick does something wrong and takes action from it. I think every moment throughout the series has led up to that moment with Carl commanding everyone in Alexandria to make this escape plan. When Carl pulls up his shirt and pulls down his bandage to reveal the bite, it's a huge moment for him, Rick and Michonne and everyone in the group. He's definitely happy with the way things ended up with him saving all of Alexandria and making sure everyone is alive. That's going to be really interesting to see what happens next."