Here's Why That One 'Walking Dead' Star Didn't Appear In Rick's Final Episode

The internet has been wondering why one "Walking Dead" character was mysteriously absent.
Why didn't Rick Grimes see Carl?
Why didn't Rick Grimes see Carl?

Coral! Where’s Coral? Has anyone seen Coral?

Throughout nine seasons of “The Walking Dead,” Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) has factored heavily into Rick Grimes’ personal saga, which came to an end on the series Sunday night. In his final episodes, Andrew Lincoln’s character brought up his dead son’s name several times, reminiscing about the better world he wanted to create.

But when it came down to it, our guy Coral was MIA during Grime’s finale. Happy trails, cowboy?

Before Rick led a herd of zombies to their watery grave this week and (spoiler alert) made his own exit on a helicopter, Mr. Grimes suffered a series of hallucinations, in which three past “Walking Dead” characters appeared to offer him advice. They included: Shane (Jon Bernthal), Hershel (Scott Wilson) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). Much to fans’ chagrin, Carl was nowhere to be found. For that matter, Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies), Rick’s dead ex and the show’s resident terrible driver, was also notably absent.

What gives, the internet wondered? “Walking Dead” showrunner Angela Kang jumped on the phone with HuffPost on Monday to answer the people’s question: Why didn’t Carl show up?

“There is a reason,” she said.

“We dove into this idea of the ‘third man phenomenon,’” Kang said. “When people are close to death, sometimes they imagine seeing somebody that they knew or that they don’t know that helped drive them to survive and keep them going. We had these three particular characters [Shane, Hershel and Sasha] who are sort of filling an emotional need for him in the moment, but Rick’s entire journey is looking for his family, and I felt, creatively felt, that if he sees Lori or Carl he would feel like, ‘OK, I fulfilled my mission. I found them. I’m home. I can lay down and die now.’”

She continued: “He needed to keep going for the family that is still there, and so to have that kind of restlessness of like, ‘I still haven’t found them. Where are they? Where are they?’ bringing him back to realizing his family has always been there all along ― that the people he’s fighting for now are still his family ― that’s what keeps him going. So he can’t find them, otherwise it’d be too easy for him to give up.”

That’s why Carl and Lori didn’t appear in the episode — though Lori’s voice made a cameo for astute listeners.

In his final episode, Rick hears a number of voices mutter “What’s your wound?,” a callback to some of the first words Morgan (Lennie James) said to Rick on the show. One of those voices was Lori Grimes herself.

“She says, ‘What’s your wound?’ before he sees Shane,” Kang revealed. “Each ‘What’s your wound?’ is kind of connected to the hallucination he’s having in the moment.”

May the Force be with you, Judith.
May the Force be with you, Judith.
Gene Page/AMC

So we didn’t get Lori or Carl, but the episode did involve a time jump that landed on a preteen Judith Grimes, played by actress Cailey Fleming. Fleming’s most notable role outside of “The Walking Dead” remains her turn as young Rey in “Star Wars,” a fact Kang jokingly confirmed helps explain the Jedi’s true parentage: Rick Grimes is Rey’s dad.

“Absolutely,” said Kang with a laugh. “Well, you know, Cailey came in and just blew us all away. She was amazing, and I’m a huge ‘Star Wars’ universe fan as is [creative content officer Scott Gimple], as is a lot of people on our show. So that was very exciting for us to have little Rey on our show.”

Kang addressed one last question that’s been haunting fans who wondered about the dark, seemingly potty-less cell housing Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Yes, the Saviors leader does have a place to go to the bathroom. It’s called a bed pan.

“We don’t see it here, but [the bed pan] does feature in a very prominent moment later on this season,” Kang said. “Or he might even have a bucket at this point, but we really wanted to shroud that cell in so much darkness that the corners are very black.”

“But we’ve thought about that,” she added.