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When The Walking Dead returns for the back half of Season 8, fans will get to watch one of the biggest character deaths in the series' history, with Carl Grimes falling victim to a deadly walker bite. Losing Carl and actor Chandler Riggs, who'd been there since the beginning, was a hard for one for the cast and crew to deal with. In fact, star Danai Gurira says that the grief over Carl's impending death carried over into her daily life. In her words:
I got a little depressed for a while. Straight up. You're in the story. You're in it, and you're also in a family. It was hard.
For many people, losing a longtime coworker can be about a emotional as buying a hat, but that's obviously not the case with the Walking Dead ensemble, since they function more as a constantly shifting family than simply a squad of employees. Danai Gurira worked with Chandler Riggs about as much as she's worked with anyone else over the years, so it had to have been a strange and potentially lonely feeling to know that she wouldn't have him around anymore throughout the rest of Season 8 and beyond.
In the past few seasons, going back to even before Michonne started up her courtship with Rick, her relationship with Carl has grown and expanded, and she has been a solid stand-in for Lori, serving as another mother figure for Carl to look up to. She protects him and guides him and inspires him, so Michonne losing the younger Grimes male would be very much like once again losing one of her biological children. And we've seen how those past tragedies have continued to haunt Michonne at times, though she'd been as stable as ever in the first half of Season 8.
That hopefully won't change now that Carl is going the way of the dodo bird, though, even if Danai Gurira's performance is conditionally influenced by her real-life depression over Chandler Riggs exiting the show for good. The actress talked with Huffington Post about how her feelings are comparable to her character's feelings.
Carl and Chandler are a blessing to Michonne and to Danai, you know what I mean? I adore Chandler, and [for] Michonne, Carl is her healer. Everything she and Rick do is to protect Carl, so this is kind of the worst nightmare realized for him to reveal [the bite] at the end of the last episode. . . . These are very resourceful people who do everything they can. Rick and Michonne don't really stop easily. What do you do when that's what you're facing? So, yeah, I was devastated. Michonne was devastated.
We knew that Norman Reedus wasn't too happy about Carl's fate, while Andrew Lincoln was saddened but happy that the show allowed Carl a proper send-off. Will Michonne break through the sadness in order to get revenge, or will her peace rise above her rage? Fans will be able to watch that send-off in full on Sunday, February 25, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what other new and returning shows are on the way in the near future, head to our midseason premiere schedule.