Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon and Melissa McBride’s Carol Peletier have been on The Walking Dead from almost the very beginning. Both characters made their first appearance in “Tell it to the Frogs,” the third episode ever of the AMC series. That, coupled with the fact that the two characters are fan favorites, meant it made all the sense in the world for Daryl and Carol to be the subjects of the upcoming Walking Dead spin-off that was announced would begin production after the mothership series ends at the conclusion of season 11.

Then again… if The Walking Dead has been following Daryl and Carol for 10 seasons and counting, why not just keep following them on The Walking Dead instead of shutting down that show and moving the duo over to a new destination? We asked that question to Angela Kang, the showrunner of both the current and future home of Daryl and Carol, and she reveals that the spin-off is not happening because the original show is ending, and that talk of the offshoot actually pre-dated news of the mothership winding down.

“There's been talk for a long time about a Darryl/Carol spin-off,” says Kang. “And so that was something that we were working on well in advance of the news about the ending of the series.”

Kang also reveals that the Daryl and Carol spin-off will have a different feel than the original Walking Dead. “They're going to be off on a different journey,” says Kang. “And that show's going to feel hopefully a little tonally fresh. They're just in a different stage of their lives and it's more of a road show, which I think will be really fun.”

The fact that Kang describes the spin-off as a “road show” that had been in the works for a while indicates that the franchise may have been planting seeds as far back as the season 10 premiere. In that episode, which aired Oct. 6, 2019, Daryl and Carol had the following conversation about, yep, going out on the road. The exchange went as follows:

DARYL: “There’s got to be people out there like us, right? I get what Maggie’s doing with Georgie. I do.”

CAROL: “Go out on the boat with me this time.”

DARYL: “Just run away together?”

CAROL: “Be pirates. Heck, yeah.”

DARYL: “Nah. Cooped up in those little cabins all day. That’s not me.”

CAROL: “Screw the boat. We’ll take your bike and go out on the road.”

DARYL: “Better.”

CAROL: “Head out West.”

DARYL: “New Mexico.”

CAROL: “What the hell’s in New Mexico?”

DARYL: “People who weave bracelets. No more fighting. Just get on the bike and go. See who’s left.”

CAROL: “Sounds good to me.

That conversation now looms large as we get closer to a transition, a transition Kang says the actors are enthused to take part in: “I know Norman and Melissa have been excited about the prospect of doing something different and new, so that's in the future.”

The Walking Dead
Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride ride onto 'The Walking Dead' as Daryl and Carol.
| Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

But what about the end of the most successful scripted series in the history of network television? It’s a show Kang has been working on since season 2, so while she’s looking forward to the new adventure, she’s also emotional about the impending end of the show that has been her home for the past decade.

“Obviously, I've been on the show almost since the beginning,” notes Kang. “It's been a huge part of my life and the lives of everybody that's been there for many years. It's a really bittersweet time. We love the show and there's a lot of story to tell, which we'll thankfully get many episodes ahead of us to make on air. But at the same time, I’m really excited to do more with Daryl and Carol. Those are two characters and two actors that I love writing for and working with, Norman and Melissa. So stuff to look forward to. In the meantime, we're just really focused on making the next 30 episodes we have yet to do — which is going to air for a couple of years — as great as they can be.

Since showrunner Kang and Walking Dead chief content officer Scott M. Gimple now know exactly how many episodes they have to wrap up The Walking Dead story, do they also know what that ultimate ending looks like? “I think so,” says Kang. “I've got a good sense and, obviously, we have Robert Kirkman's comic book as our blueprint. So there's stuff from there that we want to play with, but everything on the show can sometimes take a winding journey. And it's like we've gone into a parallel universe with some of the characters from the comic, so we have to do some original stuff along the way that hopefully will be really cool. I've got an idea, but we haven't yet really started working that out."

Whether that series finale will feature Daryl and Carol literally riding off into the sunset remains to be seen.

For more Walking Dead intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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The Walking Dead

AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.

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