- Gene Page/AMC
- One of the best changes “The Walking Dead” TV show has made from the comics is the character progression of Carol Peletier (played by Melissa McBride) from abuse survivor to the ultimate zombie apocalypse warrior.
- “TWD” universe chief content officer Scott M. Gimple and McBride were in attendance at the AMC Network Summit in New York City Monday. INSIDER asked Gimple about the decision to keep Carol’s character on the show given that she was killed off early on in the comics.
- In addition, INSIDER asked McBride what it meant to deliver that original story for survivors.
- Gimple said there was a conversation about “maybe Carol going away” on season three of the show that he was “dead set against.” McBride, while fighting back tears, said it’s difficult for her to talk about the story arc because she knows people like Carol who “didn’t make it.” That’s why Carol’s story is so important to her.
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As much as “The Walking Dead” has been centered around Rick Grimes’ family for nine seasons, it’s also been about Carol Peletier’s journey from a survivor of abuse to becoming one of the prominent badass leaders of the zombie apocalypse.
According to “The Walking Dead” universe chief content officer, Scott M. Gimple, it’s a story we almost didn’t get to see play out on screen.
“[In] season three, there was some conversation about maybe Carol going away,” Gimple said Monday at the AMC Network Summit in New York City when INSIDER asked about the changes made to Carol’s story arc from the comic to the show.
“I was dead set against it,” he continued, “because I thought it would be a great story to see a person who came from abuse become the hero, and not in an easy way. She herself had to struggle with the power that she found.”
AMC confirmed to INSIDER that by “going away,” Gimple meant Carol would’ve been killed off the show. According to Forbes, “TWD” executive producer and director Greg Nicotero told SFX Magazine that Carol almost died in place of T-Dog on season three at the prison.
“At that point there was some concern in the writers’ room that they didn’t know where to take her character,” said Nicotero.
In Robert Kirkman’s comic-book series, Carol, unable to adapt to life in the zombie apocalypse, commits suicide at the prison by having one of the undead fatally bite her. Instead, when the group of survivors arrived at the prison, T-Dog was bitten in the neck by one of the undead.
For what it’s worth, Carol is sent away by Rick for a while during season four after Rick discovers she killed two of the survivors at the prison in order to prevent a disease from spreading. Carol later reappears several episodes later after the group leave the prison, helps Tyreese with baby Judith, and saves Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and more from the cannibals at Terminus on the season five premiere.
- Gene Page/AMC
As the series continued, she grappled with the difficult decisions she made in the past to kill and had to learn how to make peace with that by meeting Morgan and King Ezekiel. On season nine, she was able to find her own fairy-tale ending for a while with Ezekiel and their adopted son Henry until he was recently slain by the Whisperers. Now, once again, she’s afraid of losing herself.
“Carol’s greatest story is that she found that she was strong. She found she had this superpower, but that it wouldn’t be easy,” said Gimple of Carol’s trajectory over the course of nine seasons. “It wasn’t a little happy ever after after that. She had responsibility and there was a weight to that strength that she had.”
“To tell people that they can be that is definitely one of the great gifts of being able to tell stories like that. Anybody can become a hero,” added Gimple.
- Gene Page/AMC
INSIDER asked Melissa McBride Monday what it has meant for the actress to portray such a different version of Carol from the comics.
“It’s been so important to me to see her become strong,” McBride told us while struggling to fight back tears. “It’s really hard for me to talk about that aspect of her without getting just boiled up inside because I know people like her that didn’t make it.”
- Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for AMC
“That aspect has always been very important to me. Empathy, we need more of that,” McBride added of what we need to see more of on TV. “These, by the way, they’re good tears, because it’s important, and it was a good thing that happened to Carol.”
You can listen to Gimple and McBride below:
Season 10 of “TWD” will begin filming in May. You can follow along with our “Walking Dead” coverage here.