'Walking Dead' Star Chandler Riggs Talks Carl Grimes: Is He the Most Tortured Teen in TV History?

Kimberly Potts
Yahoo TV

Let's just do a quick trip down memory lane for one Carl Grimes, "The Walking Dead" teen who …

… had to shoot his own mother, Lori, after she gave birth to his sister, before Lori could reanimate as a walker who would try to eat him …

… had to shoot his friend and pseudo-dad, Shane, so Shane would not kill his actual dad, Rick …

… lost Sophia, his best friend, and the only person in the survivors group his own age, when she went missing and was found to be a walker in Hershel's barn …

… and got grief from his elders when he killed a teen member of The Governor's group (who Carl shot to ensure the teen wouldn't be able to do any of Carl's loved ones harm).

Oh, and then there was the midseason finale, "Too Far Gone," when Carl's quick shots saved his battered dad from oncoming walkers, only for the duo to discover the bloody, empty baby carrier that should have held Carl's sister, Judith.

So, yeah, Carl Grimes definitely gets our vote as the most tormented teen in primetime history.

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"The most difficult thing for me to do as an actor was having to shoot Lori," Chandler Riggs, Carl's portrayer, tells Yahoo TV. "It was a heart-wrenching, emotionally-draining day. People don't realize how many times we have to film scenes. To stay in that moment all day long was really hard … It affected me for days!

"I sure hope I never have to do anything like that again."

See above; life certainly hasn't gotten easier for Carl since having to shoot his mom, and — no spoilers — when "The Walking Dead" returns on Feb. 9, Carl and Rick are still in the midst of dealing with the trauma they faced, again, at the hands of the Governor.

It's a Carl-intensive episode, and fans get a lot of insight into just how much he has changed since we met him as a little boy (one trained to use a gun) in Season 1.

Andrew Lincoln, who plays Carl's dad Rick, told us last fall that the episode, titled "After," "is one of the great episodes that I've seen [Chandler] perform in. You're going to be blown away by this kid. Actually, I'm not going to call him that. I call him a kid all the time. He's a young man now. He's got a deeper voice than me!"

Says Riggs, 14, "Obviously, [Carl] has gone through many physical changes, but I think it has been his state of mind that has changed the most. He has gone through so much loss … he lost his mother in a horrible death, he lost his friends Sophia, Dale, Shane, T-Dog, and Hershel. And, now he's dealing with the loss of his baby sister, Judith. He has had to learn how to overcome unimaginable hardships, not to mention just living everyday in a world with no electricity or running water. He has completely changed the way he thinks about everyday events."

Speaking of Carl's mindset, the character has proven to be somewhat polarizing, with some viewers tossing the word "sociopath" around after he killed the Woodbury teen at the end of Season 3.

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We're firmly on Team Carl, though. One of the series' most interesting character studies is that of Carl, who doesn't have the perspective of experiencing much of the world pre-apocalypse. His formative years are being spent forced to kill zombies and humans (and, again, see above, sometimes zombies and humans he knows very well).

"I honestly don't think he should be judged as [harshly]," Riggs says. "I mean, look at all of the other people in the group. They're running around, shooting people and walkers all the time, and all Carl wants to do is help and feel like he has some part in the group, not just [that he is] someone who's holding everyone back."

In real life, Riggs is a big video game fan who gets to experience a more realistic version of battling zombies on "TWD" set, but who also attends public school much of the time.

"My day on set is pretty much like all of the other actors, except I have to do school," he says. "I have a set teacher, and I do school for three hours. I recently started attending public school again. So, on the days I'm not filming, I'm just a regular kid. My principal and teachers have been very supportive of me and my unique situation. It's not easy, but it's totally worth it to get to go to a regular high school."

More proof he's just a regular kid?

"You can follow me and keep up with everything I'm doing on both Twitter and Facebook," Riggs reminds us.

See cast of "The Walking Dead" on "Conan":

"The Walking Dead" continues Season 4 on Feb. 9 at 9 p.m. on AMC.