Fear the Walking Dead Showrunner Explains Charlie Shocker (Exclusive)

Fear the Walking Dead co-showrunner Andrew Chambliss explains that major character death in Sunday's "Iron Tiger."

[Spoiler alert for Sunday's "Iron Tiger" episode of Fear the Walking Dead.] "The truth matters. Even if it's just heard out loud. Even if it's just heard once." Those are words said during the "Good Out Here" season 4 episode of Fear the Walking Dead, which ended with a bang when 11-year-old Vulture spy Charlie (Alexa Nisenson) suddenly shot and killed Nick Clark (Frank Dillane). The truth was heard out loud on Sunday's "Iron Tiger" episode of season 8, which also ended with a shocking gunshot after Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) confronted the now young woman who murdered her son. And both times, it was Charlie pulling the trigger.

The episode showed a reunited Madison, Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), and Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades) learning that Luciana (Danay García) has spent the past seven years making gasoline for PADRE while using its supplies to continue trucker "Polar Bear" Clayton's mission of leaving help boxes with the message "take what you need, leave what you don't." Only Luciana's covert do-gooder operation has set up two dozen way stations across the country to help people, freighting fuel and provisions by way of a trucker with the CB handle "Iron Tiger."

"Iron Tiger" was revealed to be a 20-year-old Charlie, who Strand thought was dead because she was suffering from radiation poisoning and "weeks away from death" when they left irradiated Texas by raft. As it turned out, June Dorie (Jenna Elfman) was able to treat Charlie at PADRE, but her condition made her too dangerous to raise on the island with the other kids. Charlie was so guilt-ridden over Nick's death she helped Luciana build her way stations to "turn all that hurt and all the pain into something more."

A contrite Charlie then confessed to killing Nick and apologized to Madison. Ennis (Evan Gamble) unleashed the zombie horde that overran and destroyed the stadium and seemingly killed Madison, so Nick killed Ennis, and Charlie, in turn, killed Nick. To repent, Charlie agreed to infiltrate the hotel commandeered by Troy Otto (Daniel Sharman) and kill the man who claims he murdered Alicia, with Madison telling her: "You took the stadium from me. You took my son from me. This is the least you can do."

Madison had a last-minute change of heart when she discovered that Charlie helped Luciana exhume Nick's body and cremate his remains to bury him properly, but not before Troy took Charlie hostage to make Madison trade her life for PADRE's location. "I'm not gonna watch another place you built fall because of me," Charlie said, turning a gun on herself. "The place she's building, it's what Alicia wanted. And it's how Nick's death can mean something."

With that, Charlie took away Troy's leverage by taking her own life.

"It was a big decision, and it really came from this place of wanting to give Charlie a true sendoff. The last time we saw her, she was on that boat suffering from radiation sickness, and it felt like that might be her end. But as we got into the season, it felt to us like she deserved more than that," Andrew Chambliss, who serves as showrunner with Ian Goldberg, told ComicBook about Charlie's death. "In thinking about Madison's story and all the things that she'd have to grapple with this season, we really wanted to put Charlie and Madison together. Charlie served as the ultimate test for Madison about how much she actually had changed. Could she forgive the person who killed her son? Ultimately, she was able to do that, although it was very messy in this episode, and it put Charlie in this very precarious position. It seemed like, to give Charlie that forgiveness, and make up for essentially driving her to Troy, she would have to give up PADRE — the thing that she was fighting for."

Chambliss continued, "I think from Charlie's point of view, she couldn't let Madison do that because Madison wouldn't be able to secure the thing that would allow Nick and Alicia's legacy to live on. That ultimately led to her decision to sacrifice herself. It felt fitting for Charlie to leave the show in that way. She came into the show lying about her past as a spy who ended up leading to the downfall of the settlement that Madison had built for her children. Now, here she is exiting the show, giving her life so that she could secure that very same thing for Madison going forward." 

While Charlie's death meant something, it also meant Madison leaving Strand to keep his promise to Alicia and rebuild PADRE — without her. But as has been said often this season: "Everyone deserves a second chance."

"Madison's obviously struggling with whether or not she can seek redemption, whether or not she can give all these people at PADRE the gift of family, a place where they can be safe, the things she always wanted for her own children," Chambliss explained. "Daniel's trying to have a second chance with Luciana, and then obviously losing Charlie comes a big blow to him that it feels like the family he's building is in danger. We'll see that theme resonate as we get into Dwight, Sherry, June's stories later in the season."

Chambliss added that the question of who deserves a second chance is "definitely a big part" of the final episodes. "It's a question that the finale of the series is really going to answer in a big way," Chambliss said of the two-episode series finale airing Sunday, November 19. 

New episodes of Fear the Walking Dead premiere Sundays on AMC and AMC+.

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