[This story contains spoilers from The Walking Dead TV series and the comics it is based on.]
Add Jeffrey Dean Morgan to the list of Walking Dead diehards disappointed by the shortened Carl-Negan storyline.
The actor behind dastardly villain Negan posted a lengthy tribute to Chandler Riggs after the teenager’s Carl Grimes was killed off during Sunday’s season eight midseason premiere. In his post, Morgan shared his respect and admiration for Riggs, noting that his performance as Carl — and arc from the comics with Negan — was a major reason why he wanted to join Walking Dead. But he also took issue with how Carl and Negan’s onscreen storyline was cut short by the AMC drama’s decision to shockingly kill off the one-eyed wonder.
“Honestly … a huge reason I wanted so badly to join this band of misfits … was because I was such a fan of the Negan-Carl relationship in the comics … that storyline was one of my favorites, as I know it was one of yours. I’ll forever be disappointed we only scratched the surface of what could have been,” Morgan wrote.
In the comics, Negan and Carl form an unlikely bond in the time jump after the “All-Out War” arc. With Riggs’ time as Carl having been cut short on the AMC series — the character is still very much alive in the comics and is seen as the future of that version of the story — Negan and Carl were able to share only the first chapter in their story.
Morgan previously told The Hollywood Reporter that he was a fan of the graphic novel that inspired the series and one of his “favorite things” was the “relationship Negan has with Carl.”
“I felt moved and totally fascinated by it when I read it,” he said in an October 2016 interview. “As a fan of the comic and the guy playing Negan, I’d certainly be pushing for a lot of that relationship to stay intact for the television show.”
For his part, Riggs told THR in December that Walking Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple’s shocking decision to kill Carl was part of a way to bridge the gap between Rick (Andrew Lincoln) not wanting to kill Negan and Rick also really wanting to kill Negan. “Scott’s way to get around that was to make Carl this really humanitarian figure and person who could see the good in people and see that people can change and not everyone out there is bad,” Riggs told THR after December’s midseason finale revealed that Carl had been bitten and was dying. “That’s what Carl’s talk to Rick was in this episode: There’s no way that they can kill every one of the Saviors and not everyone is a bad person and there has to be some way forward than just killing people.”
Read Morgan’s full tribute to Riggs, below.
SPOILER (for the six people that are somehow in the dark… and get news from Instagram?) @chandlerriggs5 man…. what a pleasure. Not only getting to work with you… but, getting to know you. You, my friend, are an incredible young man. Well before joining this cast I was a fan… a fan that loved watching you grow up in front of a camera. From the moment you first put on the way too large sheriffs hat as a boy… to the end, the hat so befitting of the man Carl had become. Wiser and more compassionate than all of us. You held all of our hearts. Honestly… a huge reason I wanted so badly to join this band of misfits… was because I was such a fan of the Negan Carl relationship in the comics… that storyline was one of my favorites, as I know it was one of yours. I’ll forever be dissapointed we only scratched the surface of what could have been. BUT… I can take total solace in the fact that you are out there… doing your thing. You’ve grown into an amazing young man as well as a powerful actor… the world is your oyster Riggs. We all get to sit back and watch you kill it. So.. know you are missed on the show… but know you have a big ole group of family all here for you if needed… and eagerly awaiting whatever comes next. Love you Riggs. See you soon.
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