Fans of The Walking Dead are devastated at the loss of original character, Carl Grimes—the son of the series' hero, Rick Grimes—in the heartbreaking mid-season premiere. While Carl's death is not an event that occurs in the comics—at least not yet—some have noticed that the events surrounding it are very similar to those that led to a recent tragic loss for the comics' incarnation of Rick.
If Carl's television death has been adapted from this particular event, then he may have spared the life of another beloved character in the future.
In the Comics..
In The Walking Dead comics, sometime after the deaths of their significant others, Rick and Andrea embark upon a romantic relationship with one another. The pair apparently marry sometime in the years between All Out War and the following story arc. The teenage Carl, who suffered serious amnesia after the gunshot that cost him his eye, has very few clear memories of Lori and now refers to Andrea as his mother. Andrea, in turn, treats Carl as her own son.
The Grimes family, Andrea included, were considered the safest characters in the series. Aside from being the central focus, the three of them had been around right from the beginning. No original characters had died since Glenn was killed by Negan in Issue 100, released nearly five years earlier.
Then, tragedy struck. After heading out with a group to drive a Walker herd away from Alexandria, Andrea is bitten on the neck while saving Eugene's life. Unlike earlier bites on someone's arm or leg, there is no hope of removing the infected tissue.
Returning to Alexandria, Andrea slowly succumbs to the infection as her friends say their goodbyes. She gives Rick a rousing speech about why he cannot give up before passing away in his arms.
"People still need you. You have to keep doing what you're doing. You have to stay strong! Otherwise...otherwise this was all for nothing... If this all falls apart...and it will without you...why did you fight so hard? You've built something...important. You have to keep fighting for it no matter what. These people are counting on you -- you've been a shining beacon...in a world of darkness. You've made an oasis in a world of shit. You've made it possible for people to work together...to be a community...to be stronger... That makes you stronger. You'll keep going. You have to. That's what these people need. That's what this world needs. And that's...that's just what you do."
What does this mean for the show?
Things turned out very differently for the TV version of Andrea. As long time Walking Dead fans will remember, the character was killed off at the end of the Woodbury arc in season three. No hint at a possible romance with Rick occurred, and she had very little to do with Carl.
Instead, the role of Rick's love interest and Carl's mother figure seems to have gone to Michonne.
For the most part, thanks to the wonderful chemistry between Danai Gurira, Andrew Lincoln, and Chandler Riggs, fans have not minded this change so much.. Or at least they didn't, until Andrea died in the comics.
At the time, fans panicked. As Rick's love interest, it seemed like Michonne was the most likely candidate for the show to remix into Andrea's comic book death.
Then the episode "How It's Gotta Be" came along, and Carl revealed his bite...
Carl's death may mean Michonne is spared.
Already, some fans haven't been able to help notice that Carl's TV death is eerily similar to Andrea's comic one.
Both were bitten trying to save someone vital to the group. Andrea saved Eugene, whose scientific skills have gotten the gang out of many sticky spots. Carl saved Siddiq, who was revealed to be a doctor.
Both were also bitten in an area that could not be amputated—Andrea on her neck, and Carl on his ribs.
Most importantly, both are deaths that would deeply affect and forever change the world of Rick Grimes.
The similarity between Andrea and Carl's deaths have some fans believing that Michonne could be safe. Whether they feel Michonne is worth losing Carl for.. well, that's a whole other question.
From a narrative standpoint, killing Michonne does make less sense now than it did before Carl's demise. With Carl's death, Rick has now already experienced that life-changing, earth-shattering loss. He will already have to keep fighting through the pain, as Andrea wanted him to do in the comics. Killing Michonne later would not have the same effect that Andrea's death did. It would feel like the series repeating itself, as Rick already experienced the same feelings losing Carl.
Whether The Walking Dead's writers will feel the same way when the time comes...well, we will just have to wait and see.