For fans of "The Walking Dead" who aren't current on the Robert Kirkman comic books, the almost-rape of Carl Grimes in the Season 4 finale likely came as a massive shock. Considering Carol put Lizzie down only two episodes before, putting one of the child stars of the AMC series in such a disturbing situation made it seem like "The Walking Dead" was going darker than it ever had before.
And, in many ways, the Season 4 finale was the darkest the series has ever been. But that rape scene is almost a frame-for-frame re-creation of what happens to Carl in the comics, and it's something showrunner Scott Gimple and Kirkman never planned on shirking from in the TV series.
"That scene has always been a really difficult one," Kirkman tells TVLine. "When I was writing the original comics, in the panel description for artist Charlie Adlard I [wrote], 'Carl is on his back, and the guy is pulling his paints off -- but don't worry Charlie, he's not going to get raped!' I actually included that in the panel description because it is such a heavy and dark scene, and I didn't want Charlie to be freaking out while he was trying to draw that.
"When it came time to adapt that for the show, we are trying to realistically portray the kind of things that would happen after the fall of civilization. We try not to shy away from the depths that people can sink to in various situations. It's not like we're portraying things that don't, unfortunately, happen in real life. We're not really pushing the envelope too far. It is a fine line that we're trying to walk here, between being realistic and also being unrelentingly dark and morbid."
Expect to see Carl and Rick deal with the aftermath of Carl nearly being raped in Season 5, even if the group currently has bigger problems to deal with -- like being trapped in Terminus by maybe-cannibals.
"It will not be glossed over," Kirkman tells The Hollywood Reporter. "This is not a show that introduces things like that into a character's past and then doesn't deal with them. It will be very much at the forefront when it comes to Rick, Carl and even Daryl's character as we move forward."
The turn of events came after Carl came to terms with the fact that he isn't the sweet boy his father hopes he can be. "What's interesting and tragic -- and this is something we were going for from the start of the season -- is that he would wind up with a very mature self-awareness. He's worried about being a monster, but the fact that he's worried about that is actually wonderful for this kid," Gimple tells The Hollywood Reporter.
"[Carl] was a kid that was going down a road where he wasn't going to have one. It's not an awesome victory with Journey blasting 'Anyway You Want It' after it. It's really sad but also a wonderful thing that we saw Carl recognizing and worried about his own humanity. When that gentleman with the glasses was screaming -- which was directly out of the comics, including the same bite -- Carl ran to help without thinking. He's made a lot of progress."
Photo/Video credit: AMC