By now, you’ve probably heard the shocking news that Andrew Lincoln is leaving The Walking Dead sometime during Season 9. I’m as shocked about the whole thing as you are. But I’m also sad because this change would be so different if Carl had never died. This post has spoilers (of course) for The Walking Dead and for this season of Fear the Walking Dead.
I was one of the people really upset about Carl’s death in Season 8. He was one of the most interesting characters on the show, and Chandler Riggs didn’t want to leave. This is so different than Nick leaving Fear, since the actor was ready to go in that situation.
I already felt like Carl’s death was a missed opportunity in terms of Fear. Chandler wanted to stay, and Frank Dillane wanted to go. We were already crossing Morgan over and Carl’s death was already going to be a huge departure from the comics. Can you imagine how epic it would be if Carl had also crossed over to Fear, and Morgan crossed over because he was following Carl to make sure he stayed safe? It could still have the same impact on Rick’s storyline (Carl leaving because he disagreed with Rick’s tactics), but we could still have Carl.
Now I’m thinking the show missed an even bigger opportunity. Rick’s departure is going to hurt The Walking Dead. But it would hurt a lot less if Carl was still around. If Carl could pick up the mantle and take over as leader after Rick left, that would be an amazing evolution to watch.
Instead, it looks like Norman Reedus has been offered a pay increase to stick around and let Daryl take over the leadership role. I’m honestly not sure how this will work. They’ll need to change Daryl’s character a bit and make him more outspoken. I mean, it will be nice to see a more rounded version of Daryl rather than the more 2D version we’ve seen lately. But I’m still not sure how it will work. And in all honesty, Carol is far better prepared and capable of taking over in Rick’s absence. But she probably wouldn’t command the same viewership.
I’m worried about the future of the show. I know the creators have said they’re prepared to stick around forever. But I’m not sure if the ratings will stick around too. Maybe Negan should have a change of heart and take over in Rick’s absence. That actor could definitely carry the show, if anyone could.