Zombie apocalypse survivors Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) made their first appearance together in a season 1 episode of The Walking Dead that premiered ten years ago today on November 14, 2010. In season 1 episode 3, "Tell It to the Frogs," Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) mounts a mission to rescue Daryl's older brother Merle (Michael Rooker) — left handcuffed on a roof in "Guts" — and retrieve a bag of guns Rick dropped when escaping zombie-swarmed Atlanta. Meanwhile, at the survivor camp outside the city, Shane (Jon Bernthal) batters Ed Peletier (Adam Minarovich) when he strikes Carol during an argument with Andrea (Laurie Holden).
The episode, directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton and scripted by then-showrunner Frank Darabont with Charles H. Eglee and Jack LoGiudice, also marks the first appearance of Carol and Ed's daughter Sophia (Madison Lintz). Carol and Daryl wouldn't form their long-lasting friendship until season 2, where Daryl endangers himself while searching for the girl who goes missing near the Greene family farm.
Reedus developed his backstory for Daryl, a character who does not appear in the comic books from creator Robert Kirkman and original artist Tony Moore, after auditioning for the role of the older Dixon brother. The actor also helped steer the writers' room away from turning the archer into a drug-abusing racist Reedus refers to as "Mini Merle."
"I brought all the writers together and I was like, 'I don't want to be that guy. I want to be the guy that grew up with that and is ashamed of it,'" Reedus said during a convention appearance in 2019. "And what it did was, when Merle left the show [in season 3], it allowed me to sort of step up and be the man that I wouldn't have been if that wouldn't have happened. So in a weird way, the zombie apocalypse kind of blossomed Daryl out to be a real guy."
McBride nearly quit acting before joining The Walking Dead, where she reunited with Darabont after appearing in his feature film The Mist. And Carol — who dies violently early on in the comic books — was almost killed off during the show's prison-set third season before co-star Sarah Wayne Callies and writer-producer Scott Gimple fought for Carol to live.
Ten years after their premiere episode, McBride's Carol and Reedus' Daryl are the only surviving characters from the first season of The Walking Dead still with the show. (Lincoln's Rick Grimes and Lennie James' Morgan Jones are still alive but are now elsewhere in TWD Universe.)
Carol and Daryl will return for the eleventh and final season of The Walking Dead, airing 24 episodes spanning 2021 and 2022, before hitting the road in an untitled spinoff created by Gimple and showrunner Angela Kang.