The Walking Dead may have started with Rick Grimes, but it will finish with Daryl and Carol. The characters played by Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride are the only walker apocalypse survivors to appear on all 11 seasons of The Walking Dead, which will conclude with the last eight episodes airing this October on AMC. But before the zombie drama rides into the sunset — and before Reedus rides solo in the Daryl Dixon spinoff that will no longer co-star McBride — Daryl and Carol are ride or die when our heroes lead the charge against the Commonwealth.
"Daryl, more and more, is being thrust into the role of a leader," showrunner Angela Kang told EW. "And the way he does it is different than some of the others. His style is not like Rick's, it's not like Maggie's or Ezekiel's. Daryl is Daryl. He's not the guy who likes to give a lot of speeches. He kind of likes to do."
As a trooper in the Commonwealth Army commanded by General Mercer (Michael James Shaw), Daryl has already picked his side in the fight against power-hungry Deputy Governor Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton). But the citizens of the Commonwealth aren't the only ones who will be looking to Daryl as a leader: "Uncle Daryl" is the guardian of the Grimes children, RJ (Antony Azor) and Judith (Cailey Fleming).
"You're going to see Daryl have to step up in some of his decision making in some key ways," Kang teased. "And he's going to be very crucial to the way all the events play out in this season. We also [have] to remember that Daryl is a parental figure to Judith and RJ, and that's an important part of the story as well — his role with those kids and the things that they'll all do to protect the children of the apocalypse."
As for Carol, who has been playing the role of cookie-baking homemaker while working under the two-faced Hornsby, Kang noted the group's secret weapon "is somebody who's come so far in her journey, and there's been times when she's been really, really tormented about the things she's had to do, but I think Carol's in a place of a pragmatic acceptance of the decision she has to make."
"We'll get to see some really cool moments from Carol as she's just outwitting and outlasting those that are seeking to do harm to her folks," Kang added. "She gets to have some memorable moments with both villains and our heroes. She's like a chess master who's playing 4D chess while other people are just kind of cranking along moment to moment."
Reedus and McBride will reunite at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, where the cast and creators of The Walking Dead will take the stage at Hall H for the final series Comic-Con panel. Reedus, McBride, and co-stars Christian Serratos, Ross Marquand, Khary Payton, Seth Gilliam, Josh McDermitt, Michael James Shaw, Cailey Fleming, and Lauren Ridloff will reveal the Walking Dead Season 11C trailer on Friday, July 22.