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The Walking Dead's Andrea Was Originally Going To Marry Dale

Now that AMC's "The Walking Dead" has concluded its run after 11 seasons–and now that we're past spoiler territory–it's a good time to revisit what the show could have been. As fans are no doubt aware, the TV series was based on the bestselling graphic novel of the same name, created by Robert Kirkman. It served as key source material for Frank Darabont and company when imagining the first season of the TV series. When Glenn Mazzara took over as showrunner for Season 2, the series made several departures from Darabont's roadmap–in particular, the show completely changed Andrea's story arc. Here's what Darabont had to say about his plans for Andrea, who was played by Laurie Holden on the show:

"Laurie's role in 'The Walking Dead' was intended by me to have a substantial character arc that never transpired. She would go from being a mentally jangled, super self-absorbed, badly traumatized and angry girl to the opposite end of the spectrum: their most reliable soldier, an ace sniper, and a grown-ass woman who becomes all about self-sacrifice and protecting the group. And her relationship with Dale would blossom into a very deep May-December situation, a real marriage based in deep abiding feelings and respect. I aim for characters and situations based in messy and complicated feelings, as happens in life. And no, she was never intended to be a love interest for Rick, as I read somewhere. She was never meant to be thrown away as zombie food. Nor was Dale, for that matter." 

Yes, you read that correctly–Andrea would have had a romantic relationship with Dale, of all people. That's just one revelation, though. There's a lot to unpack here.

Andrea's relationship with Dale is straight out of the comics

First off, some of the story ideas from Darabont's statement–but not all–are taken directly from Kirkman's comics. Here's a rundown Andrea and Dale's relationship in the comic books:  

Andrea is one of the original members of Rick Grimes' (Andrew Lincoln) group, just like she is on the TV show. She survives the events in Atlanta and makes it to the Greene's farm. This is when the TV show kills off Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) and replaces him with Hershel (Scott Wilson) for the role of "wise old man of the group," a role that Hershel is much better suited for anyway. Andrea and Dale do bond before his TV show death, but it never becomes romantic. From this point onward, the TV version of Andrea's story diverges from her comics' counterpart almost completely. 

In the comics, Andrea and Dale begin their relationship at the Greene's farm. Andrea and Dale both survive the Greene's farm disaster and make it to the prison. There, the Atlanta group brings in a widowed father named Allen and his two sons, Billy and Ben. Allen quickly dies after Rick amputates his leg to treat a zombie bite, and Andrea and Dale adopt the boys. Dale meets his demise during the Alexandria sequence of the story, when the Atlanta group is at war with the cannibalistic group called the Hunters. They kidnap Dale and eat his leg. He escapes but later dies of his wounds, and Andrea has to shoot him when he reanimates. 

Andrea eventually has a relationship with Rick–but Darabont explicitly said that he wasn't going to go do that. Which begs the question, what was his plan for Andrea instead? 

Darabont's (likely) plans for Andrea

It's unknown exactly what Darabont had in mind for Andrea's character. Darabont ruled out the relationship with Rick, which indicates a willingness to deviate from the comics. That being said, the comics do give some clues to what he was planning, especially the references to "self-sacrifice."

After Dale's death, Andrea spends several issues mourning him, until she discovers her feelings for Rick. She's a key member of the Atlanta group's leadership all the way until they reach Alexandria and begins making contact with other communities in Oceanside and Hilltop, as well as more dangerous groups like Negan's Saviors and the Whisperers. Andrea finally meets her end when a horde of a thousand walkers attacks Alexandria. She's bitten while trying to rescue Eugene from the mob. This forces Rick to kill her after she reanimates. 

Assuming Darabont would have kept the Alexandria storyline, this means he would have killed Andrea off somewhere around Season 5. Instead, the show killed her off during Season 3. She spends much of that season in a coercive relationship with Philip "The Governor" Blake (David Morrissey), the leader of the Woodbury community and Season 3 and 4's main villain. She meets her end when The Governor chains her to a dental chair in his torture room, then stabs his right-hand man, Milton (Dallas Roberts), and leaves him to die, reanimate, and feast on her. 

The TV show had to kill Dale off for non-creative reasons

The other big takeaway is that Darabont would have had Andrea and Dale get into a romantic relationship. This means Darabont likely would have kept Dale around for much longer than he was used on the TV series. The reason why Dale died on The Greene's farm during Season 2 episode 11 goes back to Darabont's relationship with Jeffrey DeMunn, the actor who played Dale on the TV series.

Before "The Walking Dead," DeMunn worked with Darabont on five other projects. The first was the 1988 remake of "The Blob," on which Darabont was the writer." The two then teamed up for three Stephen King adaptations: "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994), "The Green Mile" (1999), and "The Mist" (2001). DeMunn also had a role in Darabont's 2001 Jim Carrey comedy "The Majestic." So, when AMC fired Darabont after the end of Season 1–and the story behind Frank Darabont's firing from "The Walking Dead" is a whole other can of worms– DeMunn quit in protest. 

"Dale's death was my decision," DeMunn told Cleveland.com. "I was furious about how Frank was pushed out of the show. I spent a week not being able to take a full breath. And then I realized, 'Oh, I can quit.' So I called them and said, 'It's a zombie show. Kill me. I don't want to do this anymore.' It was an immense relief to me."

Had Darabont and DeMunn stuck around, it's likely Dale would have died around Season 5, just like Andrea.