How Old Wаs Cаrl Grimes on Tһe Wаlkinɡ Deаd?

Carl Grimes was one of the most popular characters throughout his time on AMC’s The Walking Dead, but his age often confused viewers.

Carl Grimes The Walking Dead


  • Carl Grimes was a staple character of The Walking Dead since Season 1.
  • Before his death in Season 8, the actor’s maturity raised a lot of questions about how old Carl was supposed to be exactly.
  • It might be surprising to realize Carl didn’t age that much between the beginning of the apocalypse and the end of his life.

For the longest time on The Walking Dead, Carl Grimes was the only kid among his group of survivors. He never got the chance to live a normal childhood like the adults in his life, and the circumstances of the apocalypse matured him beyond his years. Yet, the show was never clear how old Carl actually was.

The son of the protagonist Rick Grimes and his wife Lori, Carl was introduced as a fearful, innocent child in the first season of the zombie apocalypse series. After Season 2, he went through a few rough patches of disobedience and rebellion, leading to memes and fan jokes about Carl never staying in the house. His death in Season 8 reinforced just how tragic his life was, as he never survived long enough to experience the life his father was trying to build for him. The discrepancy surrounding his rapid growth throughout the seasons, however, made The Walking Dead‘s timeline much more unclear.

Updated on November 30, 2023 by Katie Doll: Carl Grimes will remain as a legacy character, even far after The Walking Dead franchise has finally retired. With his father still in grave danger on the spinoff The Ones Who Live, far after Carl’s death, it’s intriguing to think what could’ve become of Carl if he had lived beyond Season 8.

Carl Grimes’ Age on The Walking Dead, Explained

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Unlike his comic counterpart (who is nine in the first issue), Carl is 12 years old in the first season of The Walking Dead. With Lori’s pregnancy and time well-spent on the road, the gap between Seasons 1 and 3 is roughly a year, making him 13. This means that as soon as he hit the teenage years, he had to watch his mother die and kill a young boy. But the tragedies don’t stop there as he goes through multiple growth spurts. There’s a rough six-month jump between the Season 3 finale and Season 4 premiere, signifying the growing community at the prison and Carl hitting a rebellious phase in his youth. At this point, he’s 13-14 years old.

From here, the timeline is extremely condensed. Seasons 5-8 represent the Alexandria and Savior arcs of the series, which surprisingly take place under six months. A lot happens while surviving an apocalypse on the road. During this timeframe, Carl was taken hostage by cannibals, met Enid, the girl he had his first and last relationship with, and lost his eye to a vengeful gunshot wound. Even with a vague time jump after the mid-season finale of Season 6, not much time has passed. Considering Season 8 takes place in just under a week, it’s not hard to pinpoint how old Carl was when he died. He was still around 14–15 years old when he was bitten and passed three days later.

Carl Grimes’ Age on The Walking Dead Season
12 years old Seasons 1-2
13 years old Season 3
14 years old Season 4
14–15 years old Seasons 5-8

Why Carl Didn’t Look His Age in Later Seasons?

Carl Grimes leans on the door of a car while wearing an eyepatch and hat
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It might be heartbreaking to realize that Carl died not long after his mother, but it’s also more surprising than anything else. There were five seasons and dozens of deaths between Lori and Carl’s death. Carl’s actor, Chandler Riggs, visibly aged so much during those seasons that it appears time works differently on the show. There’s always that risk of having children on a show where time passes so slowly; an adult actor can easily hide their actual age, whereas a child’s age is much more exposed. It’s why no one questions why Lauren Cohan was playing a 22-year-old in Season 2, even though she was nearing her 30s.

Years after his death, Carl’s age is still a widely debated topic within The Walking Dead fandom. The reality is, though, Carl’s age never really mattered. He was just a kid thrust into a world that wasn’t built for him to survive. No matter how old he was, Riggs pulled off the naivety, uneasiness and courage that made Carl The Walking Dead‘s unspoken hero until his final breath.

How Old Would Carl Have Been If He Had Lived?

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The shocking and unexpected factor surrounding Carl’s death created so much controversy that fans are still upset about. Carl was meant to Rick’s legacy, and by extension, The Walking Dead‘s legacy. The series partly made up for it by aging up Judith Grimes, his younger sister, and molding her into a character worthy of following her father’s footsteps, but it’s hard to shake the idea that Carl could’ve easily done the same. After Rick’s death in the comics, Carl at least lives until he’s 39 years old and even has a child with Sophia Peletier, another character gone too soon in the show.

Hypothetically, if Carl had lived until the end of AMC’s The Walking Dead, he would’ve been roughly 25 years old. Season 9 takes place after a year and a half, and another time jump of a whopping six years occurs in the middle of the same season. The series finale jumps an entire year to show the progress made between the Commonwealth and Alexandria. At this point, Carl would’ve been an adult who could’ve stepped up in his father’s shoes after his disappearance.

Which leads to Rick and Michonne’s upcoming spinoff The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live. It’s still unknown where this show takes place on The Walking Dead‘s overall timeline, but one can assume it’s roughly around the same time as the series finale of the main show. At this point, Michonne’s been on the search for Rick for quite some time, and there’s a not-so-subtle hint in The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon that Rick and Michonne may have already returned home. It’s safe to conclude that Carl would’ve been 25-27 at this point, and would’ve exhibited his father’s determination and altruism to either lead Alexandria to prosperity or join Michonne or Daryl to bring Rick to freedom.

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