(Warning: If you haven’t finished Season 2 of The Walking Dead, stop reading. There are spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned. Now catch up already.)
I’m just going to be dealing with the TV series here, not the comic. For most people, you probably had no idea comics still exist. Anyways, some fans of the show want Carl Grimes dead. Carl Grimes is a 12-year-old, slightly innocent boy. Visit the official Walking Dead page on Facebook or the Kill Carl (of The Walking Dead) fan page, and look at some of the fan-uploaded photos. Lots of them will be about Carl never being in the house when someone has told him to be. It’s kind of a running joke. Like Lori’s parenting. But I’m not here to defend that, and don’t think I could. I’m here to defend Carl, who like Poochie could be bigger than curly fries if given the chance.
Most of the Carl hate comes from one episode in Season 2: “Judge, Jury, Executioner.” This is an episode where Carl’s actions (not staying in the house) actually affect the story. The only other episode he does that is when he gets shot. Other than that, he doesn’t do much. In “JJE,” after talking to Randall and belittling Carol’s beliefs, Carl steals Daryl’s gun and goes into the woods. Typical kid stuff. What kid doesn’t want to talk to the “bad kid” in class? Calling an adult’s views stupid is a rite of passage. And stealing? Everybody does it, and by everybody I mean the cool kids. That stuff might warrant a spanking, but since our culture is against spanking, Carl received a good talking-to. And like most kids who don’t get spanked, Carl escalates his actions.
He comes across a walker stuck in the mud, and like any typical American child finding an injured or trapped animal, begins to taunt it. You didn’t do that? Neither did I, but I know people that did, like a lot. They went to high school with me. Anyway, after having his fill of taunting, Carl decides to go for the kill noob style: point-blank range on a target that isn’t moving. He hesitates just long enough for the walker to break free of the mud and lunge at Carl. Carl nearly escapes. When he gets back to camp he tells no one, which makes sense; he doesn’t want to look like a loser. Failing to kill a walker point-blank makes you look weak. This new world is ruled by strong men, and Carl wants to be one of them. Just like his dad. That’s why he showed up at Randall’s execution: it’s a father/son moment. If Rick had shot Randall, then he and Carl could have high-fived and buried Randall together, which would have been one hell of a bonding experience. Instead, Rick tries to protect Carl’s innocence or what’s left of it. Later that night, however, Carl would see Dale put down after being attacked by the walker that Carl taunted and failed to kill.
This is where most of the Carl hatred comes from. He’s pretty much responsible for Dale’s death, to the point of second degree murder. But since I’m here to defend Carl like a lawyer, I’m going to say he’s not responsible for Dale’s death. Sure, he didn’t kill the walker, and probably brought it back to camp, but who’s to say the walker wouldn’t have gotten there anyway? Zombies are like wild animals; if you were to pass a bear while walking one day, and failed to kill it, then should you be held responsible when that bear kills someone? I don’t think so. He just didn’t report it, so that’s like a slap on the wrist, or by today’s standards a good talking-to. And what was Dale doing out there anyway? Still fuming over the death of a scumbag who wasn’t even killed yet? People complain about Carl never being in the house, but he never got hurt after leaving the house. Dale leaves his RV one night and gets killed. He really should have stayed in his RV. And Dale really proved he wasn’t cut out for this new world by showing poor instincts. You see a dead cow, you run away from it. He was also killed by a zombie ninja, or ninja zombie if you prefer. Either that zombie was surprisingly fast, or Dale has a very slow reaction time. I’ll go with the latter. The defense of Carl Grimes rests.
Now, I made mention earlier of Carl being bigger than curly fries if given the chance. Let me explain. Carl is growing up in a zombie apocalypse. He’s going to spend his teenage years fighting for survival. This is a world where the only laws are the ones you make for yourself, if you have any. Violence is just an everyday occurrence, like the sun rising. Can you imagine having to deal with puberty and fighting zombies? That would mess a kid up. Carl has at least shown he wants to be part of the group and help protect it. With the right training, he could end up a badass zombie killing machine, so that’s reason enough to not kill him. Lori, on the other hand…