Robert Kirkman on ‘Walking Dead’ future: ‘Anything could happen’

Nov. 11, 2012 | 10:56 a.m.

Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) and Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) share a heart-breaking moment in "The Walking Dead." (Gene Page / AMC)

Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) and Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) share a heart-breaking moment in "The Walking Dead."(Gene Page / AMC)

T-Dog (Robert "IronE" Singleton) faces the walkers in "The Walking Dead." (Gene Page / AMC)

Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus and Vincent Ward in "The Walking Dead." (Gene Page / AMC)

Chandler Riggs, Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan in "The Walking Dead." (Gene Page / AMC)

Scott Wilson, Emily Kinney and Chandler Riggs in "The Walking Dead." (Gene Page / AMC)

Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln and Steven Yeun in "The Walking Dead." (Gene Page / AMC)

Last week’s shocking episode of “The Walking Dead” was the very definition of heartwrenching — with two key characters dying and one vanishing. (If you’re behind in your viewing, this would maybe be a good time to stop reading; if you’d like to relive the trauma, click through the image gallery above).

Robert Kirkman, the show’s executive producer and the creator of the comic book that spawned AMC’s hit zombie drama, said that the decision to kill off Sarah Wayne Callies’ Lori and IronE Singleton’s T-Dog — and to not specifically address what might have happened to Carol (Melissa McBride) was designed to underscore just how high the stakes are for the remaining survivors in the harsh, unforgiving world — an ensemble of characters that now includes a tiny newborn baby.

“It was definitely a lot,” said Kirkman, speaking by phone. “What we’re really trying to do with ‘The Walking Dead’ is keep people guessing and also show that we’re not your typical television show. I think that’s something that has really led to our popularity, that we do things that you don’t really normally see on television. I think ‘Sons of Anarchy’ is one of the only other shows on television that will kill a major character seemingly anywhere in the season.”

The ramifications of the events certainly will echo throughout the remainder of the season, with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) already in a seemingly precarious place psychologically after his showdown with Shane and his assumption of a more authoritarian approach to the leadership of the group. The pure agony he expressed as he realized that Lori was gone suggests that it won’t be easy for him to find any kind of firm emotional footing for some time.

But viewers certainly were affected, too: Florida Gators center Patric Young, for one, tweeted, “The Walking Dead last night was indescribable. If you ddnt tear up even a little you’re not human.”

“We think that’s really important to the show, to keep the audience off base,” Kirkman said. “They don’t know what’s going to happen or when it’s going to happen. When you sit down to watch an episode, anything could happen. While we do recognize that it’s a very jarring thing and it’s a huge loss to the show to lose two major characters in one episode — possibly three, we don’t know what’s going on with Carol, you never know — we wanted to do that so as you’re watching Episode 5 and 6 and 7 and so on, you know, Oh my God, this show is for real. Anything could happen.”

Robert Kirkman and friends. (Megan Mack / MorrisonCon)

As to what ultimately might happen to the baby with her mother gone and her father appearing on the verge of mental collapse, Kirkman acknowledged that it won’t be easy for the infant — a crying baby is sure to attract the unwelcome attention of walkers. He said the show’s writers realize that should the child die, at least some fans could revolt. But Kirkman believes staying true to the arc of the series’ narrative is ultimately what’s most important.

“If you’ve looked at the comic book, the source material, we’ve gone in some pretty dark areas in that, and I don’t think that we’re ever going to be pulling any punches in the television show,” Kirkman said. “I would say that while we do worry that killing a baby on TV is probably going to alienate some people, and it would be a pretty harsh thing, I don’t know if that would keep us from doing that if we thought it was necessary for the story. So who knows what’s going to happen, but it’s certainly fun having a baby on set.”

– Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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