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Why Daryl And Carol Shouldn't Exist On The Walking Dead

When The Walking Dead comes to a close after 11 seasons, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) will ride off into the sunset and straight into their very own spin-off. The last two season 1 characters still standing got the good news that their journeys won't be ending anytime soon just as AMC announced an end date for the franchise's mothership. The upcoming series already has fans buzzing, but there's a bit of irony in the fact that Daryl and Carol are continuing The Walking Dead universe, since they technically shouldn't exist in the post-apocalyptic landscape in the first place. 

The majority of TWD characters have direct counterparts in the Robert Kirkman comics on which the series is based. Rick, Michonne, Maggie, and most of the other survivors are pulled directly from the pages of the comic book series. And sure, they've all undergone a few changes from page to screen, but they're instantly recognizable to fans of the comics. The same cannot be said for Carol and Daryl, who are more or less entirely original to TWD the show.

Carol is very different in the comics

In the case of Carol, there is a character who shares her name and origin story as a survivor of abuse, but the similarities end there. The Carol of the comics dies by suicide during the prison arc. You remember the prison arc way back in season 3? That's the end of the road for comics-Carol. She never learns to survive in the post-apocalyptic world, never mind thrive in it. By contrast, McBride's version of the character is a warrior who is ruthless when it comes to survival.

McBride summed up her character best in an interview with Comicbook.com. Throughout season 10, Carol is obsessed with getting justice for her son, who was murdered by Alpha, and when the time comes to face this woman who made her lose another child, she digs deep and finds yet another reservoir of strength. "It's not too late to save yourself," McBride said of Carol's ethos. "It's not too late to face what you need to face. It's never too late to ask for forgiveness. It's never too late to find understanding and it's never too late to save your life."

That version of Carol has no counterpart in the comics, but it's impossible to imagine the series without the character's ferocity or resiliency.

Daryl doesn't even exist in the comics

It's hard to imagine a version of The Walking Dead without Daryl and his crossbow, but one actually does exist in the world of the comics. Thankfully, TV fans have had Reedus' motorcycle-riding loner to root for since season 1, but what you might not know is that if the actor wasn't so talented, the character never would have existed at all. In 2015, Reedus revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that he originally came in to read for the part of Daryl's brother Merle even though Michael Rooker had already been cast.

"I'd already been told that Michael Rooker was playing that part and thought maybe he couldn't do it or said no for some reason," Reedus recalled of his audition. "I read it and went back to New York after pilot season and got a call to audition again. I came in and read different Merle lines. I thought maybe Rooker was not going to be doing it. When I left the offices in New York, I was walking home through Chinatown and got a call saying Frank created a new part — Daryl — for me."

The rest is TV history. Reedus' Daryl went on to become one of the show's most popular characters, and since Andrew Lincoln exited the series, taking Rick Grimes with him, Daryl has arguably become the face of the show.

It's a testament to the talents of Reedus and McBride that two original TV show characters will keep The Walking Dead alive into a second decade. They may not appear within the pages of the comics — at least not in any form that viewers would recognize — but over the years, they've become the heart and soul of the show.