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The Walking Dead likes to present all of its characters as being expendable and in permanent danger, though viewers well know there are some survivors that will likely never be killed off. Carl Grimes is definitely one of those characters, but rumors have swirled around the possibility of Chandler Riggs leaving the show in the future, now that he's been accepted into college. Is this actually going to happen, though? Let's discuss.
Conversations about Chandler Riggs departing The Walking Dead started earlier this month after the actor took to Twitter with his celebratory news that he'd gotten into Auburn University, and those conversations were strengthened by social media posts from his father, William. The elder Riggs did some of his own celebrating on Facebook and Instagram about his son having completed his seven-year contract with The Walking Dead, but the original FB post was reportedly soon deleted and replaced with something shorter. According to MoviePilot, that first post was more detailed about the hardships that Chandler Riggs dealt with during productions shoots, such as leaving behind friends and working in the freezing cold, which has some inferring the actor would no longer have to worry about such things.
The same kind of razor-sharp speculation was given to William Riggs' Instagram post seen below. It is far more brief, but makes use of the hashtage "#freedom," which obviously has some thinking this signifies something more permanent than just a between-seasons hiatus.
Those are the reasons why people think Chandler Riggs IS leaving The Walking Dead, but now it's time to talk about why he probably won't be leaving. For one, he's a major part of one of the biggest shows on TV who is finally getting more interesting. And while young actors leaving projects is something that does indeed happen, I cannot imagine that he would walk away from a role that will likely last many more years and provide him with the financial security to do whatever he wants. And it's not like it would be strictly necessary for him to quit the show in order to relocate to Auburn (if he's even doing that).
The show's widening setting means fewer characters are shown in each episode. So if Carl is in, say, four episodes in the first half of Season 8 and is only on screen for less than ten minutes an episode, he would only need to show up for filming on a limited scale. That presents its own set of scheduling issues, admittedly, but nothing so impossible. Plus, Atlanta is a relatively short trip up I-85 from Auburn, Alabama, so commuting isn't such a ridiculous concept. And then there's online classes, and so on and so on.
Showrunner Scott Gimple and comic creator Robert Kirkman have almost definitely kept the actor's future very much on the forefront of conversations with him, so unless something comes directly from those three people, we shouldn't worry about a Carl-free society happening in the near future. Unless things go REALLY haywire following the ending of last Sunday's episode.