The star reveals how Daryl and Carol originally were going to leave and then return to the main show from time to time.

While it was announced just recently that Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride would be starring in a Walking Dead spin-off following Daryl and Carol, plans for the new show actually started forming way back in 2018.

That's according to Reedus, who spoke about the origins of the spin-off when he appeared on EW Live (SiriusXM, channel 109) recently. "Angela and I started talking about it during the episode Greg directed with the snow," Reedus says, referring to showrunner Angela Kang and director/executive producer Greg Nicotero. That winter wonderland episode, "The Storm," was filmed at the end of 2018 and served as the season 9 finale.

It was that conversation that put the wheels in motion for what will ultimately come to fruition in 2022 — at the earliest. "I remember that we started talking about it then," recalls Reedus. 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."

Apparently, Reedus and McBride got so excited about the prospect that they both started making Spotify playlists as inspirational soundtracks for the series. And their vision for the show lined up with that of Kang and chief content officer Scott M. Gimple. "Angela and Scott were kind of thinking the same thing on the side as well," says Reedus. "They were talking about it, and then years later I got the call that we might be doing it and I was like, 'Great!'"

However, there was one big change to the original plan that caught Reedus by surprise. It seems what was originally discussed was that Reedus and McBride would leave The Walking Dead while the show was still continuing, rather than after the series wrapped up at the conclusion of season 11, which is now the plan. Not only that, but they would periodically return to the original series to check in before heading out again. Now the spin-off will act as a continuation of the series rather than operating on a simultaneous parallel track.

Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride on 'The Walking Dead'
Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride on 'The Walking Dead'
| Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

"I didn't know the flagship show would end," Reedus reveals. "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. 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. That kind of came out of nowhere."

While Reedus did not see the end of the series coming, he did note the clear seed for the spin-off being planted back in the October 2019 season 10 premiere when Daryl and Carol spoke about hopping on a motorcycle and heading out west to New Mexico (a seed-planting seemingly confirmed by Kang's assertion that the spin-off will be "more of a road show.")

"When I read that in that first episode of that season, I was like, 'Oh, that's from the thing we talked about!'" Reedus says with a laugh. "We didn't speak of that area of the world in particular, but I was like, 'So, this is where that's coming from.' I think it sort of set the tone for it, for sure."

Now, with The Walking Dead wrapping up before the new adventures of Daryl and Carol, it seems there will be no need for them to ride back east after all.

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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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