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The Real Reason The Walking Dead Didn't Kill Off Carol - Exclusive

Contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead

After a grueling six-month wait due to delays caused by the ongoing pandemic, the highly anticipated season 10 finale of The Walking Dead finally aired in early October 2020. The Whisperer war is over. Alpha and Beta are dead. And in one gasp-inducing moment near the episode's conclusion, it felt as if we were about to say goodbye to one of The Walking Dead's fan-favorite lead heroes. 

Echoing the self-chosen demise made by her comic book counterpart, Carol Peletier's (Melissa McBride) decade-long storyline seemed like it was on the verge of an end. She was literally standing at the edge of a cliff, and for a brief, heart-racing moment, it appeared that she was about to end her life. However, as if Lydia (Cassady McClincy) heard the collective cries of fans screaming, "Don't do it!", she leaped in and pulled Carol back to safety.

Thanks to Lydia, Carol lives on to fight another day. Now, the 11th and final season of The Walking Dead is currently in production, aiming for a late fall 2021 release — but in another surprise announcement from AMC, it seems like fans can guarantee that their two favorite leads are going to be next to invincible, at least for the next 24 episodes or more. Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Carol Peletier (McBride) are getting their very own spin-off that will pick up where the flagship series leaves off. The news basically serves as one massive spoiler: While Daryl and Carol may not come out entirely unscathed, it's safe to assume they won't kick the bucket during the final season of The Walking Dead.

One person who's normally very guarded about spoilers is Walking Dead franchise chief content officer and former series showrunner Scott Gimple. During a recent exclusive interview with Looper, we couldn't help but ask him about the suggested invincibility of Daryl and Carol that came off as a tacked-on spoiler when the new spin-off was announced.

Carol is an important part of the Walking Dead story

When asked if The Walking Dead's remaining season 1 characters are death-proof, Gimple had an intriguing response. 

"Well, anything is possible, and the attention of people nowadays is a very big deal, so you never know," he shared. "But that said, I've been over the years criticized for being so spoiler-phobic and so careful about what I'm saying, and this was a bracing departure for that, for me. But I will say that there's a huge part of the fans that get annoyed at the cards [being] so close to the vest. So, it's a tricky thing. I'll say anything's possible, but we did make that announcement, and I don't think we're going to be following a couple of walkers on that show. I think that would be weird."

Much like Daryl Dixon, Morgan Jones (Lennie James), and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Carol is one of the last remaining original Walking Dead cast members who's been around since the very first season premiered in 2010. Killing off any of these fan-favorite characters off would result in severing the last remaining threads from the season that started it all. While Carol's fate is guaranteed to see her through the final season of The Walking Dead, there was actually a time when the show's writers almost plotted her demise, but Gimple was one of the strong opposers of that idea.

"The most potent one for me was early on like — jeez, season 3," said Gimple when asked if there was ever a time Carol was on the chopping block. "There was some investigation going on about killing Carol. It got pretty far down the line, and I was pretty hardcore against that because I saw her journey of going from somebody under her ex-husband's thumb to being a warrior."

It's hard to imagine what The Walking Dead would be like without one of its most compelling characters. Thankfully, Gimple shared his vision and convinced the writer's room about Carol's potential, and he ultimately had his way. 

"It just looked like the most amazing journey for our character to have, and having worked with Melissa McBride up to that point, it was like, 'Oh, well, she could do that. She can do anything,'" Gimple told Looper. "Man, I would love to look up some of the old emails or something like that because it was like, 'What if people thought she was dead, but she lived?' At that point, that was a surprise as well — people were dying and dying. It was what the show was getting a lot of noise for at that point. And it seemed even early on switching that up, but really it was more about seeing that character go through that journey because she had started out as so passive and a victim. And to see her become one of the strongest people in the story seemed exciting to me as a writer."