‘The Walking Dead’: Why Carl’s Death Will Be Good For the Show

The Walking Dead‘s Season 8 midseason finale shocked many fans because an original character was shown to die. In “How’s It Gotta Be,” Rick’s group goes into battle with the Saviors after they get out. But his plan isn’t followed — and it has dire consequences.

It’s revealed that Carl was bitten on his abdomen while trying to help Siddiq. It’s shocking, and in the midseason premiere, we saw he was unable to survive this. So where do we go from here and should fans be worried that this is the end of the show?

Our answer is no. Here are seven reasons why Carl’s death will actually be good for the show.

1. It will force Rick to change

Rick looks at the camera in a field.

Carl’s death may force Rick to change. | AMC

Rick Grimes has been a strong leader for most of the show. Sometimes he struggled with that because of the changes and decisions he’s been forced to face, like Lori’s death and killing Shane. But for the most part, he has returned to being the leader the group needs, and The Walking Dead has been kind of stale because of that.

Yes, Rick has a new nemesis to go up against with Negan, but fans have seen this repeatedly before. Rick hasn’t had a real motivation to change how he leads or what type of person he wants to be since Lori died in Season 3.

We saw Rick become much more cautious when he thought he was going to lose Carl with Negan’s threats. We could see Rick do that again after Carl’s death, or he could be much more aggressive in his plan against Negan since he has a lot less to lose now.

But it’s not just Rick who will change because of this death. All of the other characters will be affected by this forever — especially Daryl.

2. The show might become more Daryl versus Rick

Daryl and Rick crouch down holding guns

Daryl and Rick may face off even more. | AMC

We’ve previously talked about the possibility of Daryl becoming the villain of the show. The reason behind this theory is that Daryl has become more of a cold-blooded murderer now that he’s seeking revenge. The root of it is also partly his guilt over Glenn’s death. His reckless actions have been noticed by Rick, and it’s obvious he doesn’t approve.

Many fans believe Daryl is also to blame for Carl’s death because he decided to go against the plan. Daryl might become darker because of this new addition of guilt. Rick may also take his anger about the situation out on Daryl, potentially giving the show a much more interesting dynamic.

3. The show might become less about surviving and more about living

Carl and Rick embrace while Michonne stands away from them

Carl questioned his dad’s motivates before his apparent death. | AMC

In “How’s It Gotta Be,” we very much get the sense that Carl is having an epiphany about how the group has been surviving. He asks his father, “Why are we doing this?” — which makes sense, given he probably was questioning whether fighting was a good way to spend his last moments alive.

But he also points out that the goal can’t be for one group to wipe out the other. There have to be survivors on both sides, and they have to work together. Carl then acknowledges “that’s how it’s gotta be,” although Rick doesn’t seem like he wants to hear it.

The show has been largely about surviving since the first season, and killing has been a huge part of that. Rick probably became even more of a ruthless survivor when he killed Shane. But the show has really worn down its characters and even the audience with this mentality.

Moving forward, there needs to be more focus on living rather than just surviving. Even though Rick mocks the idea of picking strawberries with Negan one day, the show needs to make a turn in that to grow.

4. Killing off older characters will force the show to get new and better ones

Carl in The Walking Dead Season 8 episode "Mercy" holding a gun

Carl’s death could pave the way for newer, exciting characters. | AMC

The Walking Dead is actually always getting new characters. But few have been able to get fans as excited about the future of the show. There is Ezekiel, but he can only do so much.

Although it’s devastating when the show kills off the few original cast members, it might force writers to inject better and well-rounded characters to replace them.

5. The stakes of the show are getting higher

Negan and Carl in The Walking Dead Season 7

Carl’s death has actually raised the stakes of the show. | AMC

Some may argue that the stakes have lowered because the future of the show has been killed. But his death could actually be a sign of the opposite. If the younger characters are also at risk, then the future of the show could lie with any character.

We can’t forget, Robert Kirkman said Rick will definitely die. If his son isn’t around to be the next leader, then who will it be?

6. This could be a sign the show will fulfill its promise of killing Rick

Rick, looking sweaty and disheveled, looks directly into the camera

Carl’s death could be a signal that his father’s death is also coming.  | AMC

Some may doubt Rick’s reported fate, even though the creator of the comic book has confirmed he will die. That’s fair, since the show has played dirty tricks on the audience before.

But Carl’s death could be a sign Rick’s killing will indeed be carried out, and that could also force the show to start over in a new direction.

7. It could bring back viewers who have quit the show

Carl and Rick Grimes walk down a road

Old fans may return to the show to find out what happened to Carl. | AMC

The show still has a pretty big following, but it’s no secret that viewers have been dropping off, making it hard for remaining fans to find others who are still excited about it. A lot of fans from the start are going to want to know what happened to Carl. His death might help pique interest in former fans, leading to a stronger return of the show.

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice

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