In the world of a zombie apocalypse like in AMC’s The Walking Dead, there are so many different scenarios that would cause a character to die. From the roaming walkers that never tire or satiate their hunger for human flesh to the lack of medical supplies and personnel to help with simple infections or injuries, there is always something that can kill you in The Walking Dead. While audiences have moaned and complained about when some of their favorite characters have been killed off, it’s actually a miracle that more of the main characters haven’t died as of yet.
Rick is obviously the main character of the show and it seems impossible that the showrunners would actually kill him off. However, his son doesn’t have that same assured stability on the series. In fact, there are some major conflicting feelings about Carl from the standpoint of viewers. While some appreciate the fact that audiences have been able to see him grow up on the show, others are perturbed by how he has been able to stay alive when so many others that have been more capable have perished. Viewers seem to appreciate strength rather than weakness in their Walking Dead characters, otherwise everyone’s favorite character would be Eugene. Regardless of what your own personal feelings are about Carl as a mainstay character on the series, one thing that can’t be denied is how many close calls he’s had on the show. In fact, Carl should have probably been killed at the start of Season 1 when they were all out in the open outside of Dale’s RV. Check out our list of the 16 times Carl almost died on The Walking Dead and contemplate whether or not you think his luck may finally run out when Season 7 returns.
16 Walker Stuck In The Muck
One of the biggest pet peeves about Carl during the beginning seasons of The Walking Dead was the fact that he liked to venture out on his own. Shane made a comment to Carl during Season 2 about how he needs to stop trying to get himself killed. After getting a gun, Carl went out into the woods alone and wound up face-to-face with a walker that seemed stuck in the muddy swamp area. Carl was super young at the time and looked at it more with curiosity rather than understanding the potential danger. This incident would later go on to haunt Carl because it made him question whether or not he was at fault for that same walker later killing Dale. Perhaps if he wouldn’t have been there to taunt it, it would never have worked itself loose. Perhaps if he would have killed it, Dale would still be alive. Whatever the case, it was lucky for Carl that the walker didn’t end up killing him because he was definitely not ready to be out on his own and dealing with walkers at such an early age.
15 Wrangling Walkers Without Rick
After the debacle at the prison, Rick and Carl had to flee on their own and ultimately wound up in a suburban neighborhood. Rick had been beaten to a pulp by the Governor and was in no condition to keep them safe or help scavenge for supplies. After passing out, Carl went off on his own. He tried to lure a few walkers away from the house they were hiding in and in doing so, he became overwhelmed all by himself. He wound up killing three walkers all by himself but it wasn’t an easy feat. He had to use up the bulk of his bullets and barely got out of the situation alive. As he was walking backwards, a walker that he wasn’t aware of came up from behind him. He ended up tripping and landing on his back and each walker he killed landed on top of him. It was completely lucky that he killed the walkers and even luckier that he was able to get out from under them before another one came.
14 Shot By Otis
The early seasons of The Walking Dead were quite different from the latter seasons because the characters seemed much more naïve and soft when it came to daily life. One glaring example was in the eighth episode of Season 2, when Carl encountered a dear in the woods. At the time, Shane and Rick looked on as if it was this majestic moment where Carl could have a moment of childhood curiosity in interacting with a wild creature that was so beautiful. Yet, if this situation were to happen in the latter seasons, the characters would have brushed it off or would have instantly shot the deer to use it for meat. In any case, the group didn’t know that Otis, from Hershel’s farm, was out there hunting and shot a bullet that went through the dear and hit Carl. There are so many different scenarios in this situation that would have killed Carl off of the show for good. He could have bled out then and there, the bullet could have hit him in the head or heart, Rick couldn’t get him to Hershel in time, or even just human error that would have not allowed Hershel to have the skill to heal him. Shane ultimately became the hero in the situation since he sacrificed Otis in order to get Carl what Hershel needed to make him well again. However, this was a major storyline for the second season and wasn’t an easy feat for Hershel to keep Carl alive.
13 Got My Shoe
After killing three walkers on his own, Carl seemed to have built up his confidence in going out and scavenging on his own. He returned to the house that his father, Rick, was in and had a full-on conversation with him while he was knocked out. He began ranting and raving about how he didn’t need him anymore and that he would be fine if he died. He then went out and broke into a house and started to rummage through their kitchen for food. When he went upstairs, he encountered a walker that was incredibly strong and resilient. Carl wasn’t the skinny little kid from the first few seasons anymore but this encounter definitely showed that he wasn’t quite yet a man. He used up the rest of his bullets and still wasn’t able to kill the walker. He wound up having to climb onto the roof in order to enjoy his pudding and the walker was still alive inside the house. Carl narrowly escaped getting killed by the walker and it definitely showed that he still needed his father to help him survive.
12 Battle With The "Claimers"
After meeting up with Michonne, Rick and Carl were starting to get their bearings after losing the prison and the rest of their group. During their travels, Rick killed a member of another group inside the house they were using. This just so happened to be the group that Daryl later met up with and was the start of a chain of events that led to Carl, Rick and Michonne being ambushed in the woods. Rick was being held at gunpoint and could do nothing to stop one of the “Claimers” from attacking Carl. After being taken out of the car, Carl began getting groped by one of their group’s members and the plan of action was going to be that they were going to rape Michonne and then rape Carl. Then, both of them were going to be killed while they saved Rick for last. Daryl was able to distract the leader for a split second while Rick used a head trick to get out of being held at gunpoint. Afterwards, Rick’s group won the battle and Carl was again safe. Yet, this was solely because of Rick’s ingenuity, Michonne’s skill and Daryl’s quick thinking. If it weren’t for these factors, Carl would have been a goner for sure.
11 Chaos At Terminus
When Rick and his group made it to Terminus, they tried to handle it more intelligently by sneaking in rather than going through the front gates. However, they didn’t realize that they were walking into a trap. By the time they realized what was going on, it was too late. The people at Terminus had the high ground and were able to wrangle their group to take the specific route that would lead them into their trap within the freight cars. Realizing that Rick was the obvious leader, the group at Terminus used his closeness with his son, Carl, to get them all to fall in line. At one point, they separated Carl from the group. They could have easily kept Carl away from Rick and his group and maybe even killed him first without the group knowing. This might have made Rick think twice before trying any of his stunts because he would have thought they had his son captive. Rick could have been forced to watch his son die, which might have broken him to the point where he wouldn’t have even wanted to fight back.
10 Stuck In The Tree With Enid
When Carl noticed that Enid was making her way over the wall in Alexandria to go roam the woods, he followed her on a number of occasions. Whether it was just curiosity at what she was doing out there or just him trying to make sure she was safe, it wasn’t exactly a bright idea. In any case, Enid finally let him know that she knew he was following her and told him to go back. When she ultimately warmed up to him, the pair encountered a number of walkers that they couldn’t just fight off or run from. Instead, they chose to hide inside of a hollowed out tree. There have been a few glaring inconsistencies throughout The Walking Dead series when it comes to walkers and this is just another instance of one. It is said that the walkers can smell the living. This would be especially so in the case of Carl and Enid since they had been living in Alexandria and taking regular showers, not to mention brushing their teeth. Yet, the walkers didn’t smell them inside the tree and just walked off without the pair ever having to kill one. If the show would have stayed true to the original guideline to the dangers of walkers, Carl and Enid would have easily died from being overcome by the roaming herd.
9 The Wolf Invasion
When the Alexandria community was being invaded by the Wolves, Carl was inside the house with Enid trying to keep Judith safe. Rick and the majority of the group were out trying to get the enormous hoard of walkers to roam away from Alexandria and Carl was one of the members of the group that was left behind. Ron was being chased by one of the wolves when Carl shot his would-be attacker in the leg. The attacker tried to prey on Carl’s good nature by begging for him not to kill him. Yet, he continued to crawl towards him and then made a play for Carl’s gun. This could have been a moment of weakness for Carl since he could have thought that the man truly did need his help. With Carl becoming more accustomed to the docile lifestyle in Alexandria, he could have had a momentary lapse and put his guard down. Instead, he shot the attacker dead and was able to retreat back into the house to continue guarding Judith and Enid.
8 Ron Loses It In The Garage
When the truck used by the wolves compromised the tower structure at Alexandria, the toppling tower let in the hoard of walkers that overrun the community. While hiding inside their homes, Carl went out in search of Ron to see if he was alright. In the garage, Ron had the gun he got from Rick and the stolen bullets from the armory. He locked the door to the garage and the two fought over the gun. A physical struggle between the two occurred and Ron swung at him with a shovel. The shovel wound up smashing open a backdoor window and walkers heard the crash. Carl moved out of the way just in time, so he narrowly avoided getting bit by a walker. Carl could have died by getting shot, getting hit with the shovel or being bit by a walker. This should have been the moment that Carl could have ended things with Ron but instead, he chose to give him a second chance. He even lied to his father about what happened in the garage. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the best idea since Ron had already proven that he was incredibly unstable.
7 Holding Onto Jessie
When the hoard of walkers made their way into the Alexandria community, Rick and Carl were with a small group that was stuck in the house of Jessie Anderson. The only way to get out of the house was to smear bed sheets with the smell of walker blood and simply walk out the front door. However, Jessie’s son, Sam, started having an episode while walking and drew attention to their group. Sam was the first one to die from being overwhelmed by walkers and then Jessie was the next to go. While she was being attacked by multiple walkers, she was still holding onto Carl. The grip she maintained with Carl was like a vice grip. Walkers began to draw their focus onto Carl since he was calling out to Rick to let him know that he couldn’t get out of her grip. The walkers could hear him call out and the walkers were already eating Jessie, who was on the other end of the line. If it weren’t for Rick’s ability to snap out of his initial shock and chop the arm off of Jessie, the walkers would have definitely made their way down the chain and overrun Carl like they had the other two.
6 Carl Shot In The Eye
After seeing his younger brother and mother being eaten by walkers, Ron turned to anger rather than sadness. He had already expressed his anger towards Rick after his father died by his hand earlier in the season. He also proved that he was mentally unstable when he attacked Carl inside the garage at his home. While other people in the series have been able to go through trials and tribulations and work their way through it, Ron’s character (and some of the other Alexandria community members) preferred to blame all of their sorrows on Rick. If people died in the community, they said Rick was to blame. If walkers got into the gates, they said it was because of Rick. In Ron’s case, he blamed Rick for the death of his father, mother, and brother. He pulled a gun on him after he chopped the arm off of his mother but Michonne stopped him with her sword. As her sword plunged into his body, the arm holding the gun arched upwards and sent off one solitary shot. It hit Carl in the eye and many fans were surprised that he could even survive a shot like that. If it weren’t for the miraculous placement of the bullet and the quick-thinking skills of Alexandria’s doctor, there’s no way Carl would have made it.
5 Carl Wrangles Deanna
Carl and Enid still continued to venture outside of the walls of Alexandria and during one of these incidents, they saw Michonne and Spencer Monroe walking around in the woods. Later, they noticed a walker nearby. Enid wanted to just leave it and go but Carl didn’t want to have it out there, in case it were to attack Michonne. Carl is probably hesitant to ever leave a lone walker, ever since his experience with the walker he left alive that ultimately came back and killed Dale. After the pair saw that it was Spencer’s mother, Deanna, Enid wanted to kill it right away. However, Carl wanted to wrangle it so that Spencer would be able to do the deed. Enid didn’t understand this but Carl later told Michonne that he felt it should be a loved one that does it. Michonne argued with Carl because of the danger involved in being out in the woods and wrangling a walker. Carl could have easily been overcome by Deanna, especially since he was also fighting with Enid. There have been many strong characters that have been killed off the series by a lone walker and this could have easily been the end of Carl.
4 Detour Because Of The Saviors
When Maggie required an emergency trip to see the doctor at the Hilltop community, Rick and his group encountered the Saviors on the road. At first, Rick was a bit smug when he came upon a group of the Saviors that were in the midst of inflicting serious pain on a stranger. In fact, Rick made a little comment about whether or not they wanted for today to be the last day. This was actually ironic since it truly was the last day for two of the members of Rick’s core group by the end. Rick and his group continued to try and make their way to the Hilltop community but were blocked by the Saviors at every turn. In one road block, there was a chain of walkers that would not allow them to pass. On closer inspection, the group could see that the Saviors were actually trying to send them a message. Michonne’s hair could be seen on one of the walkers and Daryl’s arrows could be seen on another walker. It was during this road block that the Saviors began shooting. While they weren’t exactly trying to kill Rick and his group, some of the bullets came seriously close. In fact, one of them actually ricocheted off of the hatchet that Rick was holding up as he ducked. One of those many bullets could have easily hit Carl and that could have been the end of him. It was just by blind luck that none of these bullets actually hit someone. It was obvious that they were trying to shoot at their feet to try and get them to “get where they were going” but that doesn’t mean that each and every shooter had the pinpoint accuracy to ensure that none of the group members were accidentally hit by a stray bullet.
3 Randomly Chosen By Lucille
When Rick’s group finally made it to meet Negan for the first time, they were all made to kneel. They were outgunned, outnumbered and were at the mercy of Negan and his trusty bat, Lucille. At this moment, Negan doesn’t know about any of the personal relationships within the group. However, certain things became known just by the way the people reacted. When Maggie was threatened, Glenn lashed out which made it known that they were in a relationship. Also, Negan had the intuition that Carl was the son of their leader, Rick. He left the choice of who would be bludgeoned to death by a random game of chance. Audiences ultimately found that the person that was at the end of the bat was Abraham. However, it could have easily been Carl, either by chance or just to prove a lesson to the entire group. Killing a son in front of his father isn’t exactly something that would surprise people about Negan’s character and this first meeting with him would have been the perfect time to show his dominance by such an act of violence.
2 Holding A Gun On Saviors
After the incident involving Negan beating Abraham and Glenn to death in front of the group, Rick completely lost the fight he had inside of him. He was faced with the ultimatum that if he didn’t cut off his own son’s hand, Negan would have his entire group killed before him. While that turned out to be some sick and twisted test Negan wanted to put him through, there was major psychological damage in the entire episode out there in the woods. By the time the entire incident played itself out, Rick was accepting to the fact that he would now have to play by the rules of Negan and the Saviors. When they entered the gates of Alexandria, Rick was adamant that everyone should follow the rules and do as they say. Yet, Carl wasn’t at that same conclusion and decided to draw a gun on some of the Saviors. Obviously, the Saviors had guns and were living under the conditions that Negan set forth of stressing the importance of strength and violence. It is utterly amazing that Carl wasn’t shot in that immediate instance. This was another case of Carl narrowly escaping death since he could have easily been made an example of during the Saviors first visits to Alexandria.
1 Hiding In Negan’s Truck
Carl’s discontent over how he felt over the situation with Negan and the Saviors wasn’t exactly a secret. Carl was completely defiant during the initial meeting with Negan in the woods and even pulled a gun on the Saviors when they came to collect their “half” at Alexandria. Yet, Carl’s decision to go kill Negan all by his lonesome came as a huge surprise to most fans. Not only was it a suicide mission due to being outnumbered, outgunned and completely alone but it just showed how stupid and immature Carl still is at his young age. It’s completely nonsensical why Negan even let Carl live after he gunned down a number of his men. In actuality, Negan should have killed Carl right then and there after he was able to disarm him. He could have done it easily and then put Carl on one of the many stakes they had surrounding the compound. This would have been an even further way to break Rick down and it would be something that Rick couldn’t do anything about since he wasn’t even there.
Sources: Undead Walking, Vanity Fair, AMC
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