Why THAT Walking Dead Character Had To Die
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Why THAT Walking Dead Character Had To Die

Spoilers. You've been warned.

Why THAT Walking Dead Character Had To Die

If you don’t already know what this article is referring to, maybe consider avoiding this article until catching up on the show.

Alright, with that warning out of the way: Carl is dead. Talk about an absolute punch to the gut. I’ll be the first to admit that he was never my most favorite character, but the very fact that he was still just a teen — not to mention Rick’s son — makes it incredibly heart wrenching to watch him wither away from the fever and ultimately decide to end his own life so that neither Rick nor Michonne would have to put him down themselves.

Once it was revealed that Carl was bit in the mid-season finale, fans were pretty unified in their reactions — why the heck kill Carl? Many people have brought up the fact that Carl would’ve been the perfect ending for the series, the one who lives to see the new world and the rebirth of society, taking over for Rick. In light of the earlier killing of Glenn and Abraham, Carl just felt like another major character who was killed simply for the shock factor rather than for any real purpose to the story. Even compared to the comics, Carl is still very much alive and is continually taking on more responsibility, becoming an ever more important character.

If you couldn’t already guess, I would disagree.

The premiere of this current season held multiple dream-like scenes of an old Rick touting a grand beard. Carl and Judith are older, and they all live happily together with Michonne. As the season went on, more scenes like this appeared, with Rick traveling through the prospering Alexandria and greeting the many members of the community. Flash forward to the mid-season premiere and Carl’s dying moments: he tells Rick to stop the violence and the fighting, and we suddenly learn that these dream-like scenes scattered throughout the season have been Carl’s imaginations of what the future could be like. As Carl dies and the episode ends, we’re suddenly shocked with the appearance of Negan living in the community of Alexandria, cheerfully greeting Judith.

Carl imagined Negan living in peace with them in Alexandria. Negan, the ruthless head-basher who murdered Glenn and Abraham and Spencer and so many more. Negan, the one who has humiliated Rick and Daryl and so many other members of Alexandria, Hilltop, and the Kingdom. Negan, the one who, just a season ago, Carl attempted to kill.

And in Carl’s last moments, he appeals to Rick to stop the violence. Carl makes the statement that sometimes the children have to show their parents the way. He repeatedly reminds Rick that it’s no one's fault that he’s dying.

This transformation in Carl’s view on life is powerful. We are left to wrestle with the question of whether or not Rick should honor Carl’s request or continue to seek revenge. We are forced to answer the question of when enough violence is enough, to wonder what the world could look like if Rick and Negan agreed to work together in harmony. And — maybe some would see this as a stretch — killing Negan would not be what Glenn would want. Consider the fact that Glenn refused to kill Nicholas even after Nicholas shot him. Even Maggie’s killing of one of the Saviors seems to represent her losing a tie to Glenn.

In the comics, Negan is still alive. Rick spares him, keeps him prisoner until finally releasing him years later. Rick keeps Negan alive, despite wanting to kill him; even when Maggie tracks down Negan and has an opportunity to kill him, she makes the decision to let him live. Enough is enough.

I think Carl’s death might be the only catalyst strong enough to change the outcome of the All Out War story arc. Carl’s death can be the one thing that stops the death of many more beloved characters and, more importantly, can be the one thing that can pave the way towards reclaiming society. Negan and Rick as allies — not enemies. They are both powerful leaders and have done so much on their own. Just imagine what kind of world could be created through them working together.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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