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Many fans of The Walking Dead are up in arms about the impending death of Carl Grimes. And they aren’t the only ones upset to see Chandler Riggs’ time on the show come to a close on the Feb. 25 midseason premiere.

Norman Reedus is never shy about sharing his displeasure when longtime cast members are cut loose, and when asked his feelings about the Carl death and Riggs leaving the show, he did not hold back. “I was desperately unhappy about that,” Reedus tells EW. “I’ve seen Chandler grow up from a little boy. I’ve known that kid so long, and it always hurts when you lose a family member on the show. Chandler is definitely a family member to me. I was not happy about it. I always thought Chandler would be the last man standing, to be honest.”

Carl is still very much alive in The Walking Dead comic on which the show is based, with many theorizing that Rick may be killed off at some point with his son taking over. But that now won’t take place on the TV adaptation. TWD comic creator (and show EP) Robert Kirkman defended the move to EW and promised that there won’t be as much story reworking because of Carl’s death as people think. “There are big, huge stories coming up that you might think will be massively altered because of the absence of Carl,” says Kirkman. “But we have known these story lines have been coming for years. There are plans in place to make it all work. The loss of Carl doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to be losing big swaths of the comic book story. It means that there will be some differences to them.”

AMC's "The Walking Dead" Panel - Comic-Con International 2014
Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

But Reedus worries how the loss of yet another original character will change the DNA of the program people fell in love with. With Carl being killed off and Lennie James’ Morgan moving over to spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead at the end of season 8, that leaves only Andrew Lincoln, Melissa McBride, and Reedus as the three original season 1 actors left — and that’s only if they all survive the All-Out War with Negan.

“The people that started this show, to me, are the heart of the show,” says Reedus. “When you lose those key members, it’s such a big blow to the show, and to the fans, and to us that are there. Who’s left? There’s only a few of us left out of all those people. If you wanted to turn it into a totally different show, you get rid of those people. But if you want to hold onto what made the show special, you’ve got to be very careful what you do with those people.”

While Reedus is upset to see Riggs go, he’s at least comforted that the departing actor has a bright future ahead of him in both acting and music (under the name Eclipse). “I love Chandler. He’s very talented, and he’s very driven, and he’s going to do great.” Riggs may do great without the show, but the question now becomes: How will the show do without Riggs?

For more exclusive Walking Dead scoop, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly and follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Episode Recaps

The Walking Dead

AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.

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