Tonight we may be saying goodbye to Carl on The Walking Dead. Fans are holding out hope that this doesn’t happen, but it seems his chances of survival are slim. The last time we saw him during the midseason finale in December, he had a zombie bite mark on his stomach. There’s very little chance of surviving that. If he dies, how old will the character be? He’s actually younger than you might think.
According to The Walking Dead Wikia, Carl was just 12 when the zombie apocalypse began, and the actor who plays him, Chandler Riggs, was 10. (In the comics, Carl was much younger when the apocalypse began.) But even though we’re on Season 8 now of The Walking Dead, Carl hasn’t been aging a year every season. He’s not 20 on the show. In fact, less time has passed on The Walking Dead than has passed in real-life.
We learned on Fear the Walking Dead that the zombie apocalypse began in 2010. Lori Grimes was pregnant in Season 1 and delivered her baby in Season 3, which means that you could say only about a year passed between the premiere of Season 1 and the midseason finale of Season 3. Then only several months passed between Season 3 and Season 4. According to The Walking Dead Wikia, the mid-season finale of the fifth season, Coda, took place 514 days after the initial outbreak.
Accounting for travel time between locations, Season 1 through the end of Season 5 took about two years if you round up. Let’s be generous just to give Carl the oldest age possible.
Season 6 included a time jump because Judith aged quite a bit and Carl’s eye socket healed a lot. Comicbook.com estimates that Season 6 took another year. So when Season 7 begins, about three years had passed. But Season 7 itself took place over the course of about a month, with many plots happening simultaneously. And not much time passed between Season 7 and Season 8. We’re still dealing with Negan and just now heading into All-Out War.
So if you round up generously, it’s possibly been 3 1/2 years, maybe a little more, since The Walking Dead first began. That would make Carl about 15 to 16 years old (17 maximum, if you want to really pad some time into there. But you can’t add in too much time recently, since Maggie hasn’t had her baby yet.) If that seems too young, it’s because Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl, was born in 1999, making him a bit older than the character he plays.
If Carl dies tonight, his death will be tragic and far too soon. He was growing into a confident young man, one day able to lead in his father’s place. But now that might never happen. RIP Carl.