Carl Grimes has been a main character and member of our group since the very first season of The Walking Dead. We see him go from scared child to a fearless member and contributor of our main group of survivors. But, some fans would argue that last statement, sayiny that Carl is just a menace. Some fans may even be rooting for his death.
Carl has made some questionable and stupid decisions throughout the duration of the show. Season two’s tagline was essentially “Stay in the house, Carl” or “Where’s Carl?”, as no one, not even his mother, could keep track of him. We’ve seen him wander off on his own, messing with walkers, and just overall causing trouble. Most hate for Carl is derived from Season 2 when Carl went off on his own in the woods and was messing with a walker. He had the opportunity to kill the walker, but he didn’t. Instead he ran off. Later on, that walker killed fan-favorite Dale, and thus, Carl takes the blame from fans for his death. Carl admits what happens, and we see him very remorseful and blaming himself for Dale’s death.
Although this is a plausible reason for you to hate Carl, you shouldn’t. I feel that viewers often forget that Carl is just a kid. The apocalypse started when Carl was just twelve years old (he was seven in the comic, but for the sake of arguing his role in the show, I’m going by the show’s timeline). Carl was scared, rightfully so when all of this started. He was watching dozens of people around him die by being ripped apart by flesh eating monsters. Carl was in some of his most crucial years of development when all this went down.
Carl is learning how to survive. He’s not learning the social or reasoning skills that we learned at his age. That opportunity was ruined when the world went to hell. Carl is learning behaviors and actions based off of his father, Rick Grimes. He’s learning how to lead a group, reason with those causing trouble, and negotiate with those trying to take him down. This was demonstrated perfectly in the Season 6 mid-season finale when we saw him handle the situation with Ron. What started as a mediocre fist-fight ended with Carl pulling his gun on Ron demanding that he give him the gun he had, and we saw Carl lay out the cold hard truth about Ron’s dad that he had been avoiding. Carl gave Ron the reality check he needed. Carl handled that high-pressure, tension filled predicament like a champ. And he learned all of that from his dad.
Carl is arguably the most dynamic and complex character in the show, strictly because of how he has been forced to grow up over the course of six seasons. He’s learned survival differently than anyone else on the show, and he’s learned how to lead a group of people and handle high-tension situations from his dad. This makes him an asset for not only the show’s dynamic, but also the comics. It will be interesting to see what Kirkman and the writers of the show do with Carl’s character in the future, because there is so much potential.
Although there are some valid reasons for viewers to hate Carl, he is now a valuable group member, and he proved that in recent episodes. Lets cut Carl some slack…for the time being.
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