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Will 'The Walking Dead' kill off Carl so Chandler Riggs can go to college?

The internet was abuzz on Tuesday once rumors began to circulate that Chandler Riggs, the young actor who plays Carl Grimes on AMC’s The Walking Dead, might be leaving the show to attend college. Is it true? If so, what could this mean for the series?

Note: spoilers ahead so don’t read on unless you’re all caught up with season 7.

The speculation began when Riggs posted a seemingly innocent Tweet earlier in November announcing his acceptance into Auburn University.

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Great news! But young actors attending college has not always stopped them from working. Auburn is in Alabama, about a 4.5-hour drive away from Georgia, where The Walking Dead is filmed. It is perfectly possible that Riggs could attend classes, then commute for filming when needed. Judging from how tight-knit the cast and crew appear to be, it would not be all that surprising for such accommodations to be made.

However, the real controversy came when Riggs’ father William posted a photo of him with his son on Instagram, alluding to the fact that Chandler’s seven-year contract was now up, expressing his gratefulness to the cast and crew, and using the hashtag “#freedom.” (Some of the text from the post has since been deleted.)

Completed 7 years on TWD! #freedom #thewalkingdead

A photo posted by William Riggs (@dadszombieroadtrip) on Nov 18, 2016 at 5:49am PST

It would not be entirely unlikely to consider that the show would kill Carl off. When we left him in the latest episode, he and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) had ventured out to find and kill Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). When Jesus (Tom Payne) hopped in the back of one of the Saviors trucks en route to their hideout, he was surprised to find Carl hiding there as well. Might Carl be killed in his attempt to take down to villain, as the story shifts to Rick (Andrew Lincoln) falling into a deeper darkness because of it?

But for anyone who has read the comics, Carl is an integral part of the story going forward. If the show decides to follow that story, Negan actually tries to mentor Carl, who he views as a serial killer in the making. Which means him leaving the show would  require a complete departure from the comics, rather than some minor pivots.

Of course, these social media comments could just be a negotiating tactic for a better deal in a renewed contract. (Thankfully, both Lincoln and Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl, have reportedly renewed their contracts.) Nonetheless, do not expect any official comments on the rumors, as all parties involved will likely remain tight-lipped about what happens on the show.