On Sun., Dec. 10, The wade Dead’s eighth season aired the last episode of 2017. The midseason finale, “How that Gotta Be,” featured a tense standoff between the Saviors and also Rick’s allies. And also it ended with one of the series’ most horrifying moment yet: Carl revealing the he was bitten.

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While the episode finished up a bit of a cliffhanger – us didn’t actually see Carl dice – Chandler Riggs confirmed the his personality is a goner. And also on the midseason premiere top top Feb. 25, we saw the death we knew to be coming. The a vast change for The wade Dead. And it’s one the may have actually struck a fatal punch on the long-running series’ ability to attach with that is audience.

1. Pan have regularly criticized The walking Dead because that being as well grim


The go Dead has actually been criticized for being so bleak, particularly after Rick’s meltdown. | AMC

It’s not just Carl’s death that has fans feeling blue. Since early top top in its run, The walking Dead has earned a reputation for gift too dismal. Also though the a series set in a post-apocalyptic landscape, part fans have concerned feel that TWD never ever offers fans, or its characters, anything to expect for.

That was specifically true that Season 7, which observed the rise of Negan, Rick’s emotional meltdown, and also the brutal deaths of many fan-favorite characters. For some, the persistent darkness was also much. But for those that stuck around, the seemed choose Season 8 was transforming a corner and also offering a glimmer of hope.

2. Carl was much more than simply Rick’s son


Carl was a signal the hope. | AMC

Speaking of hope, stop talk about Carl. As the Grimes men and their allies settled into life in Alexandria, The walking Dead ended up being a TV display that was about more than just surviving the day-to-day truth of maybe being consumed by zombies.

It began to sell a glimpse of what the future can hold. V the bear of Judith, Carl’s sister, and the elder Grimes’ children slow advancement into a pragmatic, strategic young man, The walking Dead felt favor it was beginning to display us the the next generation of survivors could thrive.

And the collection laid out that template from the very first episode.

3. The go Dead started with Carl together the mission


Rick, Carl, and Lori in Season 1 the The go Dead | AMC

Before Negan, prior to the Governor, before even Daryl Dixon and his glorious crossbow, The walking Dead was a collection about one guy trying to find his household in a nightmarish world. The faster episodes centered on Rick in search of Carl and his mam Lori. And also when he lastly reunited through them, his relief to be truly palpable.

In the seasons since, Carl has actually frequently been the catalyst because that Rick’s greatest moments. He’s watched his son endure a variety of truly near calls, from gift shot twice to having to supply his sister and also kill his mom. Maintaining Carl alive has actually been a grounding force for Rick, one that’s reminded the what he’s fighting for.

And Carl didn’t simply offer that stability to Rick.

4. He was one of the just original personalities left


Carl was one of the just original personalities left. | AMC

If you’ve to be a pan of The walking Dead long enough, you’ve most likely watched at the very least one of your favorite personalities die (#GlennDeservedBetter). Of the initial crew that characters, only three at this time remain that showed up in the an initial episode — Rick, Morgan, and Carl.

Now, Carl will be leaving, and also Morgan is likewise shipping off to one more storyline on another show. That will leave just Rick and a handful of other personalities that we’ve to be following because TWD’s early days.

Sure, a high mortality rate deserve to be supposed on a collection like The go Dead. But with every long-lasting far-reaching character’s death, the series loses a small bit an ext of its humanity. And fans have actually taken notice.

5. The backlash roughly Carl’s fatality was swift


Fans aren’t happy with the lose of Carl. | AMC

For a lengthy time, Carl Grimes wasn’t even a particularly popular character. As he muddled v his azer preteen years and also made part questionable decisions, fans frequently complained the he was among the worst personalities on the series.

But together he’s get an impression up, we learned come love him. So when we found out that Carl was The go Dead’s latest casualty, lot of of pan were much less than thrilled. Also Riggs’ father take it showrunner Scott Gimple to task for allegedly misleading his son about his future on the series.

The negative reaction come this shocking breakthrough isn’t great news because that The wade Dead or AMC. Ratings have been under all year, and the midseason finale’s numbers were decidedly grim. The negative reactions come Carl’s fatality it could mean the AMC’s ratings juggernaut has ultimately hit a snag that can’t recover from. 

It’s not simply the ratings autumn that can spell doom for TWD, though.

6. This is a large departure from the comics


Carl is tho alive and well in the comics. | photo Comics

There have actually been lot of of differences in between The walking Dead comics and also AMC’s adaptation over the years. However Carl’s fatality marks probably the most significant change yet.

Carl is still alive and also well in Robert Kirkman’s series. And also many that his most interesting storylines from the comics have yet to play out on screen. Castle could change his function to other characters. Yet ultimately, Carl’s lose will median a huge change in how the story feels going forward.

And it leaves fans emotion even much more uncertain about what’s coming following — which no necessarily a good thing.

7. Carl dying alters everything — and also not for the better


Carl’s death may it is in the last straw for some fans. | AMC

In the midseason finale, Carl told stack they had to begin thinking about much more than just killing their enemies. “Finding some means forward, it is order,” that said. “That’s something more. That’s how it’s gotta be.”

Maybe Gimple and also the remainder of The wade Dead crew should have listened to him. The collection has make a name for itself v its shocking deaths. However these days, even when they serve a purpose, they take a large toll on the audience’s ability to remain invested in the show.

Carl’s fatality feels especially cruel. It’s partially his age, and also partly the fact that Season 8 saw him yes, really coming right into his own and also deciding what sort of a guy he want to become. And it’s also because that feels together though it to be done, when again, come shock fans — maybe even more than to actually relocate the story forward.

By snuffing the end Carl, and also thus his optimism, because that the work ahead, the collection is taking a substantial risk. Yes, it will propel Rick, Michonne, Maggie, and also the remainder forward. However then what? also if castle win, they’re looking in ~ a future without one of the an essential people they to be fighting for.

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It will be tough for The go Dead to shake the nihilistic aura that originates from Carl’s death. And the series may have just given numerous fans the best reason yet to give up ~ above the series, and its perceived heartlessness, because that good.