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Does Carl Grimes Die?

Updated on January 16, 2013

Who is Carl Grimes?

He’s the subject of a successful meme the world over, so the chances are that you have seen Carl Grimes already. He’s a young boy wearing a cowboy hat, with a series of confusing-looking text messages displayed above and below him. Yes, but precisely who is Carl Grimes? Carl Grimes is the son of Rick Grimes, the hero of the amazing The Walking Dead graphic novels and TV series. The Walking Dead follows the fate of policeman Rick Grimes after he awakes from a coma to find his country and presumably the entire world overrun by zombies. After Rick’s initial coming to terms with his rather unique predicament the story of The Walking Dead sees him reunited with his wife and young son, Carl, and ultimately lead the small, ragtag band of survivors with which they have become associated during his absence. In a key visual reference to the original graphic novels of The Walking Dead, the TV series’ Carl Grimes is often seen wearing his father’s cowboy-style police hat, making him a memorable part of the TV series.

If You Enjoy The Walking Dead...

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Carl Grimes' Bad Luck

Another reason for Carl’s prominence within the TV series of the Walking Dead, and a recurring theme within the meme which surrounds the character, are the scrapes in which he often finds himself and the role he plays in the death of other characters through either his own misbehaviour, failure or inability to act, or just plain bad luck. One of the most notorious examples of this is when Carl Grimes, while angry at his father for having killed his former police colleague and love rival Shane Walsh, levels a gun at him only to use it to shoot Shane who had risen from the dead as a “walker”. The tension over whether Carl had originally planned to shoot his own father or perhaps whether he even knew that Shane had turned into a zombie, coupled with Carl’s generally taciturn nature and apparent failure to explain himself in most situations, are some of the key traits mocked by the popular meme.

Carl Grime’s ability to survive despite the deaths of many of the story’s major characters has given him an increasingly central position within the story. Carl has been close to many of the characters who died- in addition to Shane Walsh, his young friend Sophia has been killed and Carl was subsequently forced to kill the zombie resurrection of his own mother having helped to deliver her of his younger sister. With all this death all around him, it’s tempting to ask the question Does Carl Grimes Die?

So... Does Carl Grimes Die?

There are several distinct but major structural and narrative discrepancies between the graphic novel series and the television series, meaning that the two exist almost in parallel, each telling a slightly different story to the other. In both versions of the narrative world, so far, Carl Grimes is still alive, but given the huge death rate in these stories and Carl’s apparent ability to find out and occasionally be the cause of trouble, it’s an interesting question to ask. Ultimately we can’t yet know whether Carl dies; it probably hasn’t even yet been decided by the various writers concerned, but in the meantime it’s a safe bet that he’s going t continue getting into trouble- this continued sense of peril and danger is one of the major factors which contribute to the success of The Walking Dead. As readers and viewers we understand that the tellers of this tale will have no second thoughts about killing characters off it should suit their ends, and it is this continual proximity to danger which helps to keep us interested episode after episode or book after book.


What's your view? Is Carl going to make it all the way to adulthood and perhaps even survive either the zombie apocalypse or the stories that tell of it? Or is Carl Grimes going to die at some point in the next few books?


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