Things didn’t end very well for Carl in the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead. In fact, the grim moment actually heralded the end for Carl “Coral” Grimes, played by show veteran Chandler Riggs. In “How It’s Gotta Be,” Carl shows his father and Michonne (Danai Gurira) a walker bite mark, no doubt something he received while wrestling two walkers a few weeks ago.

It’ll be awhile until Carl actually transforms into a grunting, lifeless husk. But the change is inevitable. After eight seasons, there is still no cure. And in a new interview, Riggs confirms that yes, this is the end for Carl Grimes.

“Yes, Carl is going to die,” Riggs told The Hollywood Reporter. “There’s no way he can get back from that. His story is definitely coming to an end.”

So, that just about seals it! But exactly why is Riggs leaving the smash hit zombie series, just as Rick’s war with Negan is picking up? In our real, non-zombified world, Riggs is preparing for higher education, but is taking a gap year to focus on his career outside The Walking Dead.

“I’m taking a gap year right now to focus on acting for a while,” Riggs said. “Leaving Walking Dead wasn’t my decision. It was all story related. It made sense story-wise for it to happen for Rick and Michonne and all the other characters.”

He added: “I decided that I wanted to not go to college for at least a year and move to L.A. and focus on acting and music. It ended up being a great thing because now I get to do all kinds of other stuff that I haven’t been able to do in the last eight years.”

The Walking Dead Mid-season finale
Carl (Chandler Riggs, center), revealing to Rick and Michonne his wounds from 'The Walking Dead' mid-season finale.

Riggs was first cast as Carl at the age of 10, and today he exits the show a young adult at 18. Yet it can still be hard to swallow that The Walking Dead isn’t just a phenomenon, it’s a long-running hit as well. The show’s popularity is single-handedly responsible for the resurgence of zombie pop culture, the roots of which begins with George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead from 1968.

Riggs having spent his teen years doing the show is proof how long Walking Dead has been around. Given the post-finale chatter, it will probably keep shambling on for a while longer.

Photos via AMC