Spoilers ahead for the midseason finale of The Walking Dead Season 8.
Season 8 of The Walking Dead has been an interesting one. The promise of All Out War against The Saviors was extremely enticing before the season began, and the results were a bit mixed. While plenty of shootouts and action were present, the first half of the season didn't do much in regards to character development. This is largely because there was no time for real conversation between the survivors, and the episodes all took place over just a few days. Plus, only nameless character seemed to be dying in battle. But that changed with the midseason finale "How It's Gotta Be" which ended with the realization that Carl Grimes had gotten bit, and would be dying shortly. This twist was met with massive fan backlash, especially since Carl is still alive and well in the comics. And now TWD head honcho Robert Kirkman himself has weighed in on the controversy, saying:
At first, I was kind of like, 'Well, that's a big one, you know?' I might have had a little bit of trepidation. But once he laid out to me exactly what his long-term plans were, and the things that come out of it, and the things that it leads to, it was something I got on board with.
It looks like The Walking Dead isn't killing Carl off just to be dramatic, or to allow Chandler Riggs to attend college. Instead, it's apparently serving a greater narrative purpose, which is why Robert Kirkman seems to be supportive of this change from the source material.
Carl's impending death was a majorly divisive plot point for The Walking Dead fans, and was also the source of some drama from within Chandler Riggs' family. Following the midseason finale's airing, Riggs' father slammed production for unceremoniously firing his son after eight years on the series, while Riggs' mother penned a heartfelt thank you letter to the fans for their support. Some fans even started a petition for TWD's showrunner to be fired for the decision.
Regarding how emotional the fans are in the wake of Carl's walker bite, Robert Kirkman certainly seem to understand. But as he pointed out to EW, major character deaths in both the show and comics are meant to evoke that type of response. He recently spoke to this, saying:
I know that some fans online have been very upset, but that's by design. We're not supposed to be happy when these characters die. We are supposed to be worried about what comes next, and anticipating what comes next, and stressing about what comes next. That just shows that you're engaged and you're interested. Our job is to now pay that off and fulfill that interest, and prove that this was a decision worth making. That's what we've got to do.
Once again, the man has a point. Major character deaths are designed to make us upset, and The Walking Dead hasn't been shy about killing off its starring cast in the past few seasons. From Abraham, Glenn, and Sasha all perished last year, proving how high the stakes are with Negan and The Saviors.