Original plans for The Walking Dead had Norman Reedus' Daryl and Melissa McBride's Carol taking off together and periodically checking back in with the mothership show, which is ending with its eleventh season in 2022. Daryl and Carol will hit the road together in an untitled spinoff series created by showrunner Angela Kang and executive producer Scott Gimple, something Reedus says has been in the works since 2018. Reedus and Kang shared ideas while filming The Walking Dead's snowy season 9 finale, "The Storm," taking place months after Carol's son, Henry (Matt Lintz), was murdered by Alpha (Samantha Morton) of the Whisperers.
"Angela and I started talking about it during the episode Greg [Nicotero] directed with the snow. I remember that we started talking about it then," Reedus told SiriusXM's EW Live. "I was pitching these ideas, 'cause it was kind of like 'After eight years really, where do you see this show going?' And I had an idea, and I kind of threw it out there, and we talked about it a lot."
Kang and Gimple, the chief content officer for the Walking Dead Universe, were "kind of thinking the same thing on the side as well," he added. "They were talking about it, and then years later I got the call that we might be doing it, and I was like, 'Great!'"
In these original plans, Reedus and McBride would have been the next significant departures following the season 9 exit of Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes and the season 10 exit of Danai Gurira's Michonne. Longtime series star Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie, also stepped away in season 9 but always planned to return later.
The Walking Dead would have continued without Dary and Carol, who would come and go. But plans changed, and Reedus and McBride will see the mothership through to the end before returning in the sequel series.
"I didn't know the flagship show would end," Reedus said. "The whole thing was we would take off and we'd come back and check in and we would take off. So I didn't know that was going to happen. And to be honest, I was hoping that would never happen because, you know, that's the mothership. I'm scared to leave the mothership. That's scary new ground."
He continued, "I mean, I'm excited for the spin-off and I'm excited for the type of show it will be, but I didn't see that coming. That kind of came out of nowhere."
Season 10 picks up with Carol reuniting with Daryl after months away at sea, where Carol escaped Henry's death and her subsequent split from husband Ezekiel (Khary Payton). In the season 10 premiere scripted by Kang, Daryl and Carol mull over hitting the road and heading west to New Mexico.
The pair circled back to this conversation in the original season 10 finale, "A Certain Doom," with Carol deciding they "still have things to do" where they are. Including the six new season 10 episodes currently in production for an early 2021 premiere on AMC, there are just 30 more episodes until the end of The Walking Dead. Daryl and Carol's road show spinoff is expected to premiere in 2023.
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