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Daryl And Carol's 'I Love You' Moment In The Walking Dead Finale Has A Lot Of Deeper Meaning

Contains spoilers for "The Walking Dead" Season 11, Episode 24 — "Rest in Peace" 

As "The Walking Dead" finally comes to a close after over a decade of content, there is a lot to unpack. With only six episodes in the first season, the phenomenon kicked off when Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) woke up from a coma alone in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. As Rick hunts for his family, he becomes a reluctant hero of sorts and encounters themes of what it means to be human. But "The Walking Dead" is nothing if not a brutal murderer to many beloved characters. Living in Zombieland is never easy, and it is only natural that not all characters will make it.

And saying farewell to characters from the first season has historically been the most gut-punching. Rick, Carl (Chandler Riggs), and Glenn (Steven Yeun) are just some who have said goodbye. Thankfully, in the final moments of "The Walking Dead" finale, there are those who remain. Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) have survived years of loss, violence, and retribution. And just like the return of Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira), Daryl and Carol were one thing that "The Walking Dead" needed to conclude the long journey.

Saying 'I Love You' was a long time coming

Since they first appear onscreen, it seems as if there were no two characters more opposed than Carol and Daryl. One was a survivor of domestic abuse, while the other was a hard-hearted biker who had no loyalty but to his brother. But somehow, Carol and Daryl develop a clear connection and become one of the most close-knit duos in the series. After enduring the deaths of loved ones and separation, these two have maintained obvious affection for each other that has spanned years. And while many of these feelings have gone unsaid, "The Walking Dead" finale rectifies that when the survivors finally admit they care about one another in no uncertain terms.

"I wanted to have some sort of expression of emotion, but I think for Norman and Melissa, too, it was important to them that they expressed that to each other," showrunner Angela Kang told TV Insider. For two people who have been so fundamentally damaged as Carol and Daryl are, there is a sense of relief that they can finally tell each other how much they mean to one another and say "I love you."

"They've been through so much," Kang continued. "It's been so hard for both of them because they're leaders, they're friends, and they're deep friends. Sometimes they fight with each other, but at the core of it all, they care about each other so, so much."