This week, there have been a lot of The Walking Dead fans — and Star Wars fans, for that matter — who are unhappy that things did not go their way with their respective franchises. In the case of The Walking Dead, fans have gone further than to leave negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes: One fan has actually launched an online petition to have The Walking Dead showrunner, Scott Gimple, fired from the series.
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WARNING: Spoilers for The Walking Dead below
The petition stems from Gimple’s decision in the midseason finale to kill off a popular character, Carl Grimes, who is not only still alive but a rising leader in Robert Kirkman’s source material. The character is not officially dead on the TV series, although Gimple left no doubt about his eventual fate. The decision upset some fans, as well as the actor who plays Carl, Chandler Riggs, and even his father.
The petition, created at Change.org by a fan, Tyler Sigmon, has so far amassed 35,000 signatures (with a goal of 50,000). It asks that AMC fire Gimple not only for killing off Carl, but for the unfair treatment Sigmon feels Riggs received:
Scott [Gimple] has decided to kill off the shows most pivotal character Carl Grimes, son of main character Rick Grimes. The entire show has been a lead up to showing Carl become the leader that his father is, maybe one day taking on the mantle himself. Actor Chandler Riggs even considered postponing his college education so he could work on the show after Gimple promised that he would be on the show for 3 more years. Chandlers dad, William Riggs, said in a facebook post, that was later pulled, that Gimple fired his son just 2 weeks before his 18th birthday even though he promised the actor 3 more years of working on the show. He goes on to say that he never trusted Gimple or AMC and that his son did, making it especially heartbreaking for him to be fired.
The petition is very unlikely to result in Gimple’s departure on the series. For one, all of season eight has already been shot, so there’s another eight episodes in the can that will give Gimple an opportunity either renew fans’ faith in his stewardship or leave them further disappointed. More importantly, I believe for a variety of reasons that killing off Carl Grimes will ultimately be better for the series in the long term, notwithstanding his role in the source material.
Most importantly, and this goes for Star Wars, as well: Film and television makers have no duty to execute for entitled fans the exact vision they had for the series, just as entitled fans have no duty to continue watching a film or television franchise with which they have grown disillusioned. Certainly, fans have every right to complain about the direction a movie or television show takes, or even sign a petition. While showrunners and directors are certainly allowed to take those opinions into consideration, storylines should not ultimately be dictated by the fans.
Unless, of course, the fans are demanding more Jerry. There can never be enough Jerry.
The Walking Dead returns with its midseason premiere in February.