How ‘The Walking Dead’ Originally Planned To Kill Off A Major Character Instead Of T-Dog

It’s fair to say that a majority of the cast in The Walking Dead have a shorter life expectancy than many of the Game of Thrones alumni, but despite this, some characters are just too important to be killed off. During five and a half seasons, many have come and gone during the zombie apocalypse, and the threat of death is always imminent, even to the most beloved of characters. When someone important dies, the fans always fear for their favorite survivors, and they always wonder who is next — it’s one of the truly great things about the show.

With Season 6 resuming in less than two weeks, the threat of death has never been more palpable, what with the dominant shadow of Negan hanging over proceedings. However, the path of the show could have been completely different had the creative team followed their initial plans for Season 3. Think back to the fourth instalment of that season — “Killer Within.” Many remember that T-Dog became zombie chow in that episode, but the writing team originally planned for Carol to die instead. Cue stunned silence.

How 'The Walking Dead' Planned To Kill Off A Major Character Instead Of T-Dog2
Melissa McBride has excelled in her role as Carol, but she was nearly killed off in Season 3. Since then, her character has developed into a fan-favourite. [Image via AMC]

This shocking reveal was made by executive producer and special effects maestro Greg Nicotero, who confirmed the following during an interview with SFX.

“Not a lot of people know that when we were shooting season three, in the episode where T-Dog died, there was a moment where Carol was going to die in lieu of T-Dog’s character. At that point there was some concern in the writers’ room that they didn’t know where to take her character. So the fact that [showrunner] Scott Gimple and the writers have been able to craft this amazing journey for her just goes to show that there is a tremendous amount of story to tell for a lot of these characters.”

In hindsight, this actually makes sense for two major reasons. First, Carol was still making her transition from downtrodden housewife and mourning mother to absolute badass during that season, so dealing with her transition was always going to be a tough storytelling device against the backdrop of bigger character issues (The Governor, Rick’s potential mental breakdown). But they managed it.

Second, Carol’s lifeline in the comics wasn’t a long one; in fact, her character in the comics was completely different in many ways. After grieving for the loss of her husband, a younger Carol begins a relationship with Tyreese, who eventually cheats on her. Her mental health becomes unstable, which leads her on the path to self-abuse and, ultimately, suicide. This might explain why the writers were considering the death which, as it stands now with the show’s excellent character development, would have been a disaster.

It’s quite the feat to imagine The Walking Dead without Carol, especially from Season 3 onwards. Her teased relationship with Daryl would have never happened. We would never have seen her commit vigilante justice on child psychopath Lizzie, who killed her little sister, Mika. Who would have broken Rick and co. out of Terminus? And her presence in Sanctuary would have been missed, especially as she was around to stifle the brutal attack of the Wolves. The outcome of that assault would have been unimaginable without Carol to deter them. True, she is playing a more quiet role in recent episodes, but the fans all know she is about to break out of her silent disguise, possibly with the arrival of Negan.

How 'The Walking Dead' Planned To Kill Off A Major Character Instead Of T-Dog3
One relationship that has blossomed in Carol's character development is the dynamic between her and Daryl. Ironically, Daryl is the bookie's favourite to die in the Season 6 finale. [Image via AMC]

But will the writers change their mind? Could Carol still meet a grisly end in a future episode; after all, no one is safe, right? Well, no. Series scribe Robert Kirkman spoke to Cinema Blend, and has confirmed that Carol is the one character who is safe. The reason?

“The Carol that’s in the comic was my attempt to show just how broken an individual can become from the zombie apocalypse. The Carol in the show, which is a much better character, let’s be honest, actually is made stronger by all the more horrible things that happen to her in the show. Killing her would definitely not…we can’t do that.”

Which means she might not die in the series finale of Season 6. From Kirkman’s comments, it seems she will survive for a further season or two. Carol is still developing slowly, and has a combative dynamic with Morgan that needs further exploration. With the personal backing of the show’s creator, it seems big things are on the horizon for everyone’s favorite housewife.

But this is The Walking Dead, and someone has to die come the season finale. Who will it be? According to What Culture, it could be anyone from the current cast, and a couple of names have been causing wildfire on the internet. Yes, even Carol. With Negan appearing in due course, and the rumors off the chart, anything can happen.

All will be revealed when The Walking Dead returns for the remainder of Season 6 on Sunday, February 14, on AMC.

[Image via AMC]