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Even Chandler Riggs Didn't Know How Old Carl Was Supposed To Be On The Walking Dead

By the time Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) met his end in the world of "The Walking Dead," there seemed to be a general acknowledgment that he had fully grown up. In some ways, his quiet, dignified death, after saying goodbye to the most important people in his life, was in contrast to the immaturity he would often show in the series' earlier seasons. As TV Guide put it in 2017, Carl had grown up before viewers' very eyes, going from a whiny kid constantly finding himself in dangerous situations to a leader. 

To be perfectly fair, Carl's earlier immaturities were pretty understandable. After all, he was a kid when the dead began to rise from the grave causing society to implode and daily life to become a basic struggle to survive. That would be enough to send anyone over the edge, let alone someone who hadn't even gone through puberty.

But how old exactly was Carl when the walkers showed up? Or when he lost his mother? Or his eye? Or when he died? It turns out that not even actor Chandler Riggs knew.

Production deliberately kept Carl's age vague

In a 2016 Reddit AMA, when a fan bluntly asked how old Carl was supposed to be, Riggs responded just as bluntly: He had no idea. "This is one of the most commonly asked questions, and I've never been able to answer it mainly because I don't know," Riggs wrote. "They purposefully don't establish an age for Carl, since I'll outgrow the age within a couple of years."

This was a good point and, if true, a smart move on the part of the producers and showrunners. TV series and films with pre-teen or teenage characters commonly have to grapple with how quickly kids grow up. The Duffer Brothers have already made the decision that the fifth and final season of "Stranger Things" will involve a time jump precisely for that reason.

The case of Carl and "The Walking Dead" involves a similar time jump, though in this instance he would not participate. Loyal viewers will, of course, know that, not long after Carl's own death on the show, and after his father Rick (Andrew Lincoln) manages to defeat Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) Saviors, the timeline jumps forward — at first 18 months, and then six years. While aging Carl up would not have been impossible, ultimately he was killed not out of concern for Riggs' age, but to give Rick a motivation to keep Negan around.