When The Walking Dead returns on Feb. 28, 2021 for Season 10C, fans of AMC’s hit zombie drama will be treated to six bonus episodes diving deeper into the individual stories of popular characters like Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s villain-turned-anti-hero Negan, per Good Housekeeping. Unfortunately, actor Chandler Riggs left the series two seasons ago, despite playing the legacy character Carl Grimes and being widely anticipated to inherit the lead title as the seasons progressed, as he does in the comic series upon which the show is closely based. Carl, the son of former show lead Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes (who also departed earlier than his comic counterpart), had been a main character since the first episode aired in 2010. Forbes even once called him “essentially the most important character in the comic.” Alas, it was not to be on the show. [Spoilers ahead!]
After Carl Grimes was shown in the 2017 mid-Season 8 finale displaying a (fatal) zombie bite, viewers and critics alike were stunned at what this meant for the franchise’s future. Some critics scoffed at the unnecessary point of the death, like Comicbook.com, which opined that “the purpose of the death mostly seemed to be to shock the audience.”
As of early 2021, Riggs’ acting career has been comparatively quiet, but he has been present in the spotlight nonetheless. What has the young star been up to, and what happened behind the scenes leading up to his controversial departure? Keep reading for the untold truth of Chandler Riggs.
Chandler Riggs' father claims he was fired out of nowhere
Chandler Riggs was fired from The Walking Dead and, according to his dad William Riggs, quite shadily so. In February 2019, one year after Carl Grimes’ emotional death scene, William took to Facebook to divulge previously unheard details about his son’s dismissal, as Insider reported. Per William, then-showrunner Scott Gimple had called Chandler in April 2017, just a few months prior to his firing, and told him the show “needed him for 3 years.” In June 2017, a sudden meeting was called to supposedly “plan for filming schedule, etc.,” William shared. But he continued that “Scott Gimple… told us that Carl would be gone in a few episodes.”
His son, not 18 yet at the time, was naturally crushed. As William wrote, “I was disappointed Scott had been dishonest with a 17 year old making life decisions and waited to tell us.” After all, he told fans, the young actor had bought a house just to be “near the set” and planned to attend the University of Georgia nearby. In what probably felt like a cold-blooded move, William allegedly was asked for his thoughts after his son’s “death episode” aired in 2018 and upon obliging in a since-deleted Facebook post, AMC asked him to take it down a mere “3 hours later.”
Ouch. How did Chandler himself feel when he first found out he was fired from his hit show? Keep reading to find out.
Chandler Riggs called his departure 'quite the shocker'
After The Walking Dead aired the seminal episode that revealed his character’s life-ending zombie bite, Chandler Riggs echoed father William’s sentiments in an exclusive 2017 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. In short, it was not Riggs’ choice to leave. “I found out when I was doing rehearsals for episode six [of season eight]. It was quite the shocker for me,” he shared, adding that fellow co-stars rehearsing with him were stunned as well.
The young actor also revealed that since he and his character both came of age on the show, the turn of events left him at a loss for a brief while. “For a few days, [my family and I] didn’t know what to do,” Riggs admitted. Ultimately, the actor, who had previously intended on starting college while filming, decided to take a gap year to work on musical as well as acting projects.
In a very politick answer, Riggs chose the silver linings route and told The Hollywood Reporter that his firing “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.” Riggs also delicately added that his death “made sense” for the show’s storylines heading forward. Was this true or was Riggs just being polite (and did he read the many articles that disagree with him, we wonder?)? Keep reading to hear what then-showrunner Scott Gimple said about the matter.
Chandler Riggs' ex-boss insists it was all for the 'story'
Before Chandler Riggs’ father painted an unflattering picture of his dismissal from The Walking Dead, former showrunner Scott Gimple spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about Carl Grimes’ death and the decision to let the actor go. “This was a story turn, that’s it,” Gimple told the publication in December 2017 after the news broke of Riggs’ imminent departure. He reassured that once viewers saw the rest of the then-remaining season, “It will be very apparent, the relationship of this awful incident… to the greater story.”
When pressed by The Hollywood Reporter if Riggs’ decision to attend college affected his ultimate fate on The Walking Dead, Gimple replied simply, “It has nothing to do with real life in any way,” adding, “In fact, that’s the only thing that made it difficult — a real-life relationship with Chandler.”
But if Chandler’s father William was to be believed, Gimple might not have been as close to Chandler at the time of the actor’s firing as he intimated. Per SYFY WIRE, William wrote in his since-deleted 2018 Facebook post that he “never trusted” the former showrunner, who Deadline reported was promoted to the then-new position of AMC’s Chief Content Officer for The Walking Dead franchise in January 2018. Here’s how Chandler’s career has been after such a messy ending to a great start.
Chandler Riggs landed on his feet as a DJ and actor
Even before the controversial ending to his seven-and-a-half-year run on The Walking Dead, Chandler Riggs was making beats. Riggs — under his DJ name, Eclipse — released his first single “Hold On” on platforms like Soundcloud in December 2017, per his Twitter. Since then, TooFab reported in 2019, he has played major electronic music festivals like the Electric Daisy Carnival, and in what must feel like a dream for all aspiring DJs, he released a single on Steve Aoki’s label Dim Mak. “I’ve always been a huge fan of [Aoki]… so getting to have a release on his label is super super cool,” Riggs shared with TooFab of the achievement. As of February 2021, Riggs’ Soundcloud profile boasts 13,000 followers with just nine tracks, the most popular one of which has an impressive play count of 250,000.
Riggs also debuted in his first recurring acting gig since The Walking Dead in February 2019 on the second season of ABC’s A Million Little Things. He tweeted his gratitude about acting again in January that year, writing, “Four days ago I was almost unemployed for a full year. Right now I’m sitting on the set of season one of an incredible tv show for my first day of work.” Although he didn’t confirm which project he was referring to, things seemed to be going smoothly for Riggs again until a sudden incident that scared fans in 2019.
Chandler Riggs suffered memory loss after an accident
Chandler Riggs endured a scary ordeal after falling off his horse in 2019. Riggs’ mom, Gina, announced her son’s hospitalization in a Nov. 22, 2019 Instagram post, captioning a photo of her next to Chandler in his hospital bed: “He was thrown off of his horse yesterday afternoon. Thank GOODNESS he was wearing a helmet.” Gina added that while Chandler still had “a pretty bad concussion” at the time, he also suffered no broken bones.
Riggs, via Twitter the next day, shared that he wouldn’t be doing his usual Twitch livestream because of ongoing memory loss issues. “I feel a lot better but i still forget a thing or two,” the DJ and actor wrote, adding that previously, he couldn’t even recall “what year it was, how i got there, what happened, etc.”
On Jan. 27, 2021, Chandler re-sparked concern for his health with another abrupt hospitalization disclosure via social media, after tweeting a photo of him in a hospital bed and gown giving the thumbs-up, with the simple caption, “We back.” When worried fans inquired as to what happened, Chandler tweeted more reassuringly, “Hey guys, so I had to have surgery but it went well and I’m recovering.” It is a good thing, too — Riggs still has a seemingly bright future in the entertainment industry to conquer!
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