|The Walking Dead character|
Carol Peletier as portrayed by Melissa McBride in the television series
"Issue #3" (2003)
"Tell It to the Frogs"
(episode 1.03) (2010)
|Last appearance||Comic series only:
"Issue #42" (2007)
|Created by||Robert Kirkman
|Portrayed by||Melissa McBride|
TV adaptation only:
Prison Council Member
Caregiver in Alexandria
|Family||Sophia Peletier (daughter)
TV adaptation only:
Lizzie and Mika Samuels (adopted daughters)
Unnamed husband (deceased)
TV adaptation only:
|Significant other(s)||Comic series:
Carol Peletier (/ˈpɛl.ti.eɪ/) is a fictional character from the comic book series The Walking Dead and is portrayed by Melissa McBride in the American television series of the same name. Carol is introduced in the comics in the third issue of the first volume, "Days Gone Bye", in 2003, and the third episode of the first season of the television series in 2010, as a meek housewife and mother of Sophia at the survival camp in Atlanta, Georgia. Initially a recurring cast member, McBride was upgraded to a series regular position at the onset of the second season, and the character's role has predominantly increased since the fourth season. The character's arc has been described as a "hero's journey" by executive producer Scott M. Gimple, having made many difficult decisions in order to survive.
The direction of her character is contrasted between the two mediums. In the comic series, Carol is a 24-year-old housewife who exhibits a neurotic, self-centered, and naive demeanor. Throughout her time in the comics, she grows increasingly unstable, to the extent of self-destruction and ultimately commits suicide. The television show differs in these regards, as she is shown to be a stern, ruthlessly pragmatic, but compassionate individual who has been gradually building inner strength. She is shown to be much more capable and emotionally stable than her comic book counterpart. The abuse she faced from her husband was explicitly shown in the show whereas it was merely hinted at in the comics. In addition, Carol and Tyreese have a brief romantic relationship before they break up while in the television series it is a close but complex bond.
In the television series, Carol evacuated her home with her abusive husband Ed and her daughter Sophia in hopes of a safe haven in Atlanta. Nearing their destination, she came into the company of Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal), who had evacuated the city. The Peletiers then joined a camp of survivors. Following the deaths of her husband and daughter, Carol formed a close bond with fellow Atlanta camp survivors Lori and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), and she became the surrogate mother to Lizzie and Mika Samuels (Brighton Sharbino and Kyla Kenedy) after the death of their father, Ryan, and formed a close, but complex bond with Tyreese (Chad Coleman) during the fall of the prison.
As of the end of the show's third season, she is the last remaining female survivor from the original Atlanta group, and one of the last original survivors overall, preceded by Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Carl (Chandler Riggs), Glenn (Steven Yeun), and followed by Daryl in order of appearance. Carol is also the series' longest-living female character as of season six, and the only female character to have appeared in every season. She has appeared in the most episodes of any female character in the series to date. McBride's performance as Carol has received critical acclaim from television commentators, and some critics have referred to Carol as the series' best character.
- 1 Comic book series
- 2 Television series
- 3 Development
- 4 Reception
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Comic book series
Early storylines (2003–04)
Carol is described in the comics as being a housewife who occasionally helps pay the family's bills by selling kitchen appliances online. She endured a rather unsatisfactory marriage, and it is implied that she only married (and continued to stay with) her husband because of her frequent need for attention and comfort. During the initial stages of the outbreak, her husband commits suicide after losing his parents to walkers, leaving Carol and their daughter Sophia to fend for themselves. Carol is in the process of moving herself and Sophia to her sister's in Atlanta when they meet and eventually join Shane's settlement of survivors on the outskirts of the city.
While in the camp, she usually assists the other mothers in domestic duties such as washing clothes and looking after the children. She and Lori quickly become best friends, the two of them often conversing about the current happenings around them. Carol is often Lori's shoulder to cry on, as well as the one person to whom she can vent about her various frustrations.
After leaving their first campsite, they meet Tyreese, whom Carol grows to like. Eventually, the two became romantically attached to one another, and they stay close throughout their stay at Hershel's farm and their arrival at the abandoned prison.
Prison arc (2005–07)
Tension begins between Tyreese and Carol, however, when Michonne is introduced, and Carol later witnesses Michonne performing oral sex on Tyreese inside of the prison gymnasium. This initially leads her to try and compete, albeit degradingly, for his affection but she ultimately breaks off the relationship and tries avoiding further confrontations.
Soon after the break-up, her mental health comes into question, and, after nights of crying, results in an attempt to commit suicide. Soon after cutting herself, Carol becomes desperate for companionship and wants to have a polyamorous relationship with Rick and Lori, only to be turned down.
As she plans to commit suicide, she makes sure Lori promises to take care of Sophia. She then initiates sex with Hershel's son, Billy. After wandering through the prison courtyard and talking to a zombie, she allows it to tear at her jugular. She refuses for anyone to try and help her, saying that they should let her die in peace. She is killed by a merciful Andrea during her reanimation process before she can bite a saddened Tyreese.
Carol's death leaves a significant mark on the group in the days leading up to the ultimate assault on the prison. Many look down upon her manner of death and are disgusted by the fact that she abandoned her only living family. Sophia is left in a catatonic state as the news reaches her, and has since attempted to repress all memories of Carol by pretending that Maggie and Glenn are her biological parents. Maggie is relieved when Sophia begins to speak openly about recognizing Carol's previous existence. At the Hilltop Colony with Carl Grimes, Sophia reminisces on life at the prison with her mother, reminding him that she remembers everything that has happened to them, especially the death of her mother.
Before the apocalypse began, Carol was a meek and battered housewife. She frequently avoided confrontation with her husband Ed in attempt to stifle his anger, though she secretly prayed to God that he be punished for abusing her and for his sexual interest in their young daughter Sophia (Madison Lintz). The Peletiers first met up with Shane (Jon Bernthal), Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and her son Carl (Chandler Riggs) while traveling toward a supposed 'safe zone' in Atlanta, and they all eventually settled near a quarry on the outskirts of Atlanta with a handful of other survivors. Within her time at the camp, she regularly performed domestic duties such as washing and ironing clothes for her and her fellow survivors, usually with help from some of the other women in the group.
Carol debuts in the episode "Tell It to the Frogs", where she is shown washing clothes in the stream with the other women in the group. When Carol's husband, Ed, hears the women talking and laughing, he tells his wife to focus on her work. When Andrea (Laurie Holden) tells him off, Ed quickly becomes threatening as the women confront him about Carol's bruises. Ed then strikes Carol, causing a feud which is ended when Shane furiously beats him as Carol pleads for him to stop. In the episode "Vatos", after Ed's violent abuse has been exposed to the camp, Carol begins to stand up for herself regarding Sophia, as she dismisses the idea of Sophia staying with her father in his tent, insisting that she wants to join in with the rest of the camp. Ed is killed during a walker attack as Sophia and Carol are left fearing for their lives. In the episode "Wildfire", as the group cleans up the camp in preparation to leave, Carol destroys Ed's corpse with a pickaxe, venting the inner rage she had toward him and his years of violent abuse. In the season finale "TS-19", the group takes shelter at the Center for Disease Control (CDC), but they soon discover the facility is set to explode after the power runs out. Carol hands Rick a grenade (which Rick had picked up in the tank he was trapped in), to blow out one of the front windows in order to escape, and in success, Carol and Sophia run to the vehicles in the street with the others, while Jacqui and Dr. Jenner choose to remain at the CDC to die.
The second season (2011–12) depicts Carol's struggle with the disappearance and later death of her daughter. In the season premiere "What Lies Ahead", following the CDC explosion, a swarm of walkers attacks the group while they stall on a highway, and Sophia is lost in the woods after being chased by one of them. Carol casts the blame upon Rick for not staying with her as he finds her in the woods, chasing off the walkers who follow her but ultimately blames herself. In the episode "Save the Last One", as the search for Sophia goes on, her hope begins to diminish, but she refuses to give up and insists that the group keep searching (even after the group is split up when Carl is shot). Eventually, she seems to be shutting down emotionally, refusing anyone's attempt to console her. In the episode "Cherokee Rose", Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) gives her a flower later on which inspires hope in her to keep strong and believing in Sophia's survival. In the episode "Chupacabra", having been staying at the farm owned by Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), she decides to cook dinner for Hershel and the rest of the group with Lori as a token of gratitude. During the dinner, she brings up a plate to Daryl and kisses him on the cheek, acknowledging how noble and caring he is (compared to her deceased husband). In the mid-season finale "Pretty Much Dead Already", Carol and Daryl begin to form a deeper bond, with her being concerned for his well-being. Glenn reveals to the group that Hershel's barn is full of walkers, and Shane eventually breaks the barn open. The group executes the walkers one by one as they file out of the barn. The last walker to exit the barn is Sophia, revealing that the search for Carol's daughter has been in vain, as Sophia has been one of the undead for some time. Carol cries as Daryl comforts her, watching helplessly as Rick shoots Sophia. In the mid-season premiere "Nebraska", Carol refuses to attend Sophia's memorial service, saying that her daughter died a long time ago and the corpse at the farm was not Sophia. In the episode "Triggerfinger", Carol shows a conscious concern for Daryl's detachment from the group. She later lets him vent his frustration at her, as he mocks her for losing her family but soon apologizes and returns to the fold. Over time, Carol's meekness diminishes as she gains the self-confidence to stand up for herself. She grows tired of the arguments of the group, and refuses to choose the fate of their prisoner, Randall in the episode "Judge, Jury, Executioner". In the finale "Beside the Dying Fire", the group are chased off the farm by walkers. Daryl rescues Carol on his motorcycle, and they eventually meet up with the remaining survivors. The slight blame she has cast upon Rick accumulates into outright questioning of his leadership.
In the season premiere "Seed", set eight months after leaving Hershel's farm, Carol has grown increasingly proficient with weapons, as well as having been taught by Hershel how to handle medical situations. She has become much more self-confident and has acquired a playful side as the group settles in to an abandoned prison. Carol has also grown increasingly close to Lori because of the latter's pregnancy. Her trust in Rick has been regained, convincing herself that they would not have survived as long as they have if Shane was in charge. In the episode "Sick", Carol and Lori tend to Hershel after his leg is amputated to prevent the spread of infection from a walker bite. Carol later kills a female walker and uses its corpse to practice performing a C-section in preparation for Lori's pregnancy. In the episode "Killer Within", Carol and T-Dog are cut off from the rest of the group after former inmate Andrew releases walkers into the prison. T-Dog, after being bitten in the shoulder, sacrifices himself to a group of walkers to give Carol time to escape. Her fate is left unknown at the end of the episode, but the group concludes that she was killed. In the episode "Hounded" Daryl rediscovers her in a solitary confinement cell, malnourished and weak but alive. He carries her off in his arms and in the next episode, "When the Dead Come Knocking", the group happily reunites with her; however, things once again take a sad turn when she realizes that Lori has died in childbirth. She and Rick tearfully mourn Lori's loss and Carol is seen taking care of Lori's child, Judith, while Daryl leaves for Woodbury. As Daryl tells Carol to keep safe, she responds saying, "Nine lives, remember?". In the mid-season finale "Made to Suffer", Carol reprimands Axel for flirting with seventeen-year-old Beth Greene. Learning that Carol isn't a lesbian (as he had inferred from Carol's short hairstyle), Axel propositions her, but she flatly turns him down.
In the mid-season premiere "The Suicide King", when Daryl is reunited with his brother Merle, Rick pleads with Daryl to stay with the group, on the grounds that Carol will be crushed by his disappearance; Daryl replies that Carol will understand. When Carol finds out Daryl is gone, she is deeply upset at first but quickly comes to terms with it and even agrees with his decision. In the episode "Home", Carol and Axel begin setting up barricades in the prison in preparation for the impending showdown with The Governor; however, the Governor launches a surprise attack as he shoots Axel in the head and Carol is forced to use his body as a shield when incoming gunfire ensues. In the episode "I Ain't a Judas", Daryl returns with Merle to help defend the prison, and after the attack Carol expresses to Daryl that she is glad he came back. When Andrea arrives at the prison to negotiate with the group, she happily reunites with Carol, who explains what has happened to the deceased members of their group since she was separated, and informs her that she needs to kill the Governor to end the conflict. Carol gives Andrea a knife to use to stab him in his sleep after sleeping with him. Andrea, however, is unable to go along with Carol's plan. In the episode "This Sorrowful Life", Merle has a brief conversation with Carol wherein he remarks that she has transformed from a "scared little mouse afraid of her own shadow" into a stronger person. She replies that she was not scared of her own shadow but that of her husband and further states that she is no longer afraid of anything. To prove the latter, she sternly admonishes Merle to "pick a side", regarding his previous loyalty to The Governor. In the season finale "Welcome to the Tombs", following Merle's death at the hands of The Governor, Carol praises him for his sacrifice, that he gave them a chance though Daryl remarked that Merle had never performed an altruistic deed in his life. Carol then helps defend the gate against walkers as Rick, Daryl, and Michonne drive out to carry the fight to Woodbury. She is seen beginning to cry upon realizing that Andrea has died at the end of the episode, and watches the remaining Woodbury residents enter their new home in the prison.
In the season premiere, "30 Days Without an Accident", six months after the conflict with the Governor has ended, Carol begins secretly teaching the children of the prison how to use knives to defend themselves and not to have any sympathy for the walkers. Carl Grimes discovers the lessons are taking place, and she tells him not to tell his father. In the episode, "Infected", Carol begins caring for two girls, Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika (Kyla Kenedy), after their father is bitten by a walker and has to be put down. This makes Carol even more determined to keep those she cares about safe. In the episode, "Isolation", when a new disease starts spreading in the prison, two people who are infected are killed – Karen (Melissa Ponzio) the Woodbury survivor and girlfriend of Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), and prison newcomer David. Unknown to the other survivors, Carol mercifully killed them in their sleep to stop the infection from spreading. An enraged Tyreese finds the burned bodies and attacks Rick while Carol watches, and later demands that Rick find the killer. Despite the deaths of Karen and David, the infection continues to spread. Carol discovers Lizzie is ill, but reassures her that she will be fine. Tyreese asks Carol to look after his sister, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), who is also ill, believing Carol is a very caring person, which upsets Carol even more. Later, she is shown recklessly pumping up water despite knowing walkers are nearby, and is forced to flee as Rick shoots them down to save her. Rick soon uncovers the truth and confronts Carol over the murders. In the episode, "Indifference", Rick and Carol go on a supply run together to gather medical supplies to help Hershel. Carol talks more about her past, revealing her late husband pushed her down the stairs on at least three occasions and she learned how to fix a dislocated arm because she was too afraid to go to the hospital. They discuss the murders of Karen and David and Carol explains that, at the time, she believed killing them would stop the spread of the infection, therefore saving the lives of everyone else in the prison. During the supply run, Rick sees how different Carol has become and ultimately decides that she cannot return to the prison. He sees her as a threat, but is also concerned that Tyreese will kill her when he finds out that she murdered Karen. Carol is forced to leave on her own, leaving everyone she cares about behind.
In the episode "Inmates", Carol reappears unexpectedly, saving Lizzie, Mika, and Judith from a pair of Walkers in a forest. She returns the children to Tyreese and tells him that she saw the prison fall, and, after losing sight of him and the children, managed to catch up with them. Sensing that Tyreese does not know of her involvement in Karen's death, Carol makes up a story about how she did not return with Rick because she wanted to find more supplies for the group. Later, after taking the advice of a man who had been bitten on the side of the road, she follows Tyreese and the children as they to travel to a sanctuary named "Terminus". In the episode "The Grove" Carol and her group take a break from following the train tracks to Terminus, and find a house in the middle of a pecan grove. Carol is concerned that Mika is too gentle to survive, and that Lizzie is confused about the nature of walkers, thinking that they are still people. She continues to teach Lizzie and Mika lessons of survival, despite the girls remaining adamant to surviving in their own methods. Carol and Tyreese later return from a hunting trip to find that Lizzie has killed Mika and was about to kill Judith, thinking that everyone would understand that Mika was just a changed person after reanimating as a walker. Viewing Lizzie as too dangerous to be around other people, Carol and Tyreese discuss Lizzie's fate, and Carol is forced to execute Lizzie by shooting her in the head. Afterward, Carol confesses to Tyreese her role in killing Karen and David. Tyreese is furious, but he forgives Carol for what she did, although he says he will not forget. After burying the two girls' bodies, Tyreese, Carol, and baby Judith restart their trek toward Terminus.
In the season premiere "No Sanctuary", Carol infiltrates Terminus, blowing up the propane tank and unleashing a herd of walkers, approaching the complex inside, sooner. This causes the compound to become overrun and destroyed, thus allowing the group to escape. After killing many residents, she escapes and has an emotional reunion with Daryl, Rick and the others. Rick is overwhelmed with gratitude. Rick, Carl, and Sasha are further overjoyed when she leads the group back to the cabin where Tyreese is with Judith. In the episode "Strangers", Tyreese tells Carol that the others accept Carol's killing of Karen and David. Both remained scarred over the deaths of Mika and Lizzie. Rick says that he owes her everything and is apologetic about banishing her and Carol tells him, "You said I could survive. You were right." Daryl respects Carol's wishes not to speak about what happened to her in the events of her exile and the prison downfall. Daryl tries to reassure Carol that they can start over. Carol and Daryl later follow the car that took Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) and drives off in pursuit of it. In the episode "Slabtown", Carol appears at the end of the episode when Beth watches her get wheeled into Grady Memorial Hospital from an unknown accident. The episode "Consumed" focuses on Carol's struggle and guilt over her past demons, saying she can't stand to watch the people she loves die. They stay at an abandoned woman's shelter. They find a reanimated mother and daughter, and Carol moves to kill them but Daryl insists it is unnecessary. In the morning, Carol wakes up to find Daryl outside cremating the mother and child, and she goes out to thank him. A car marked with a white cross approaches them and as they flee, Carol is hit by one, knocking her unconscious. She is lifted in a stretcher by two officers. In the episode "Crossed", Carol remains unconscious as Beth completes her plan to give Carol epinephrine after the officers agree to turn the machines off, declaring that the resources would be wasted. Rick continues on with a rescue mission, saying he owes Carol everything. In the mid-season finale "Coda", after receiving medication, Carol is seen starting to wake up as Beth and Dawn are talking. Later, when the hostage exchange is about to take place, Carol is seen being wheeled by Beth and they hold hands as they see their group. After the exchange takes place, Beth is shot in the head by Dawn. Carol tries to comfort a distraught Daryl, telling him to put his gun down as they cry, and is helped by Tyreese to walk as they leave the hospital.
The group journey to Washington, DC in hopes of a safe haven in "Them", set several weeks after Beth has died and several days after Tyreese's death. Carol tries to comfort a severely depressed Daryl and reassures Maggie of never giving up. In the episode "Remember", in spite of some mistrust before, the stranger Aaron (Ross Marquand) recruits Carol and the others, bringing them to his community, the Alexandria Safe-Zone. Interviewed by congresswoman and town leader Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh), Carol crafts a facade of being an inexperienced apocalyptic survivor who acted as the "den mother" to the group. She states she did laundry and gardening pre-apocalypse, and cooked for her "stupid, wonderful" husband. She expresses that she is a people person and wants to join a junior league to help others. After everyone is interviewed, she is the last to hand over her weapons to Olivia, struggling to remove her rifle and placing it in the bin, further displaying her "weakness". The next day, Carol receives her assignment as a caretaker to cook for senior citizens and busy mothers. The night after the confrontation at the town gates, Carol emerges from the house onto the porch and speaks with Daryl and Rick on the porch, discussing that they can get comfortable but not weak. In the episode "Forget", Carol is seen outside the walls, plotting with Rick and Daryl to steal guns. When a walker comes along, she empties her clip into it to give the illusion they had gone shooting. She later steals three guns before Jessie Anderson (Alexandra Breckenridge)'s son Sam (Major Dodson) spots her. She tells him that if he mentions it to his mother, "the monsters" will come for him as he is tied to a tree outside the walls, but if he is silent, she will give him cookies. The next day she gives a gun to Rick, but Daryl refuses to take one. In the episode "Spend", Carol is visited by Sam several times, who continues to ask her for more cookies. Unable to turn away, Carol starts questioning Sam and learns his father, Pete (Corey Brill)'s abusive nature. Deeply concerned for his well being, she goes to the Anderson home to try and talk to Sam or Jessie, but is coldly turned away by Pete, arousing her suspicion. When Rick returns home, Carol tells him she believes that Pete is abusing Jessie and maybe Sam, and that the only way to stop it is to kill Pete. In the season finale "Conquer", Carol pays a visit to Pete with a tuna pasta bake and asks him to check on Tara, who is still wounded. When he refuses, Carol pulls a knife on him and threatens him, saying that she can get away with claiming self-defense. Later at the town meeting, Carol is one of the people who speaks in Rick's defense. She witnesses Rick directly address the Alexandrians when he shows up with a dead walker that he had killed earlier that night, that got in on its own, and how they need to change or they will die. When Pete shows up with Michonne's katana intending to kill Rick, Carol discreetly tells him not to as Reg tries to intervene only to be killed by Pete. Carol witnesses Rick's execution of Pete under Deanna's orders and is present for Daryl and Morgan (Lennie James)'s arrival.
In the season premiere "First Time Again", Carol continues acting as an inexperienced housewife in need of group protection. She gains knowledge on the thoughts of other Alexandrians on their views of the group, but her masquerade doesn't fool Morgan Jones (Lennie James), who mistakes her for a cop like Rick, because of their long history together since Atlanta. In the episode JSS, however, a sudden attack by the Wolves - a murderous gang of survivors - forces her to drop her act. In the ensuing battle, she demonstrates her ingenuity by disguising herself in a Wolf's uniform, which allows her to catch the attackers off guard. When she realises they do not have guns, she and Morgan Jones quickly secure the armoury and distribute guns to the surviving Alexandrians. However, Carol's ferocity and ruthlessness in combat - which included stabbing a dying Alexandrian to silence her screaming, executing a wounded Wolf and insisting that they need to kill every attacker in Alexandria - brings her into conflict with Morgan, who believes that they needed to end the battle peacefully.
In the television series, Carol Peletier has been described as taking on a "hero's journey". Executive Producer Scott Gimple said that "[Carol] was strong all along. The apocalypse didn't make her strong. The apocalypse made her show herself that she's strong". He then said, "When we got to Season 4, she had become pro-active. She becomes the one who's doing things. There was dialogue to that. Now, realizing the cost of that, she's still willing to pay the price and she's rewarded by gaining those skills and that strength to save the people she loves."
Created by Robert Kirkman, the writer and creator of The Walking Dead comic book series and franchise, Carol first appeared in the third issue of the comic book series, in December 2003. Despite initially appearing to have similar personality qualities such as being dependent and dominated by others, as well as coming from a background of domestic abuse, Carol in the television series is shown to be more stern and pragmatic, making questionable and difficult decisions other characters could not deal with. Robert Kirkman felt that having Carol outlive her daughter would add more dimension to the show, as well as add more flexibility to its storyline progression. "When a good idea comes up, you have to go with it," he articulated. "Sophia is a character who is still alive in the comic book series and who has contributed quite a bit to the overall narrative and informed a lot of story lines for a lot of different characters. Having Carol [...] survive her daughter as opposed to the other way around as it is in the comics is going to lead to interesting but different stories." Over the course of the series, Carol gradually builds inner strength and turns from a meek and battered housewife to a resourceful and hardened warrior. Robert Kirkman explained in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that "Carol is her own unique character; it would be a disservice to Melissa McBride to say she's evolved into the Carol from comics. The Carol in the TV show is a wholly original creation that we'll continue to explore on the show to great effect. Everyone in the writers' room loves that character, and we're thrilled with what Melissa has brought to the table. She has definitely become a character that is one to watch, and there's some really exciting stuff ahead for her."
On Carol's reasons for having to kill Lizzie and Carol's mindset in the episode "The Grove", Melissa McBride explained:
No, I don't think there was really any other option. There's a lot of nature versus nurture going on in this episode to look at. As much as it broke Carol's heart to have to do this and to realize this had to be done. They were walking toward the flowers in that scene and Lizzie says, "You're mad at me and I'm sorry." You'd think she'd be sorry for stabbing her sister to death, but instead she's sorry for pointing gun at her, so she just doesn't get it. It's not a world that's safe for anyone. The ability to fight isn't a one-size fits all; everybody is different. Thematically, there's a lot said about change. Something I got out of this episode for Carol, too, is that you have to change. The world will change you -- you have to adapt or die. It's about hanging on to that part of yourself: You can change but don't lose yourself. That's what was happening to Carol -- her mindset -- she was so hell-bent on protecting these children that she lost a bit of something, and that was her nurturing aspect. She was missing a lot of stuff because her eyes were so set on survival.
Casting and portrayal
Carol is portrayed by Melissa McBride, who was announced as part of the ensemble cast of the show in late 2010. McBride did not audition for the role of Carol and was simply given the part, believing it was a short-term gig. On an interview with Conan O'Brien, she said that she believed she would be dead "within a few episodes, if not, by the end of the week". McBride has stated that, after receiving the part, she read the comic book up until the point where Carol dies, but was unsure if the producers would go in the direction of her comic series counterpart. She then asserted that she was glad they did not. Carol had a minimal role in the first season, as McBride was hired on the show as a co-star. She was then upgraded to a series regular position starting with the second season and became a part of the main cast in season 4, taking on a more predominant role in later seasons. Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes, said of Carol's development: "Melissa McBride (Carol) said maybe five sentences in the first season and now look at what she's done. It's wonderful when you see talent, pure talent, being recognized in this way, and even more thrilling when critically it's recognized as well. The fans knew it quite some time ago, I think, but it's wonderful that she had the opportunity and had that incredible episode to show what she is more than capable of doing. She's a rare talent."
Alongside Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn and Juan Gabriel Pareja, McBride was among the cast members of Frank Darabont's production of The Mist to be hired for the television series. McBride felt that this was her "audition" for The Walking Dead.
Originally, Carol was supposed to be killed in the episode "Killer Within," but the producers eventually decided against it. Melissa McBride explained in an interview with Rolling Stone: "[Producer] Glen Mazzara called to tell me that he was planning on killing Carol last season. I said, 'It's really a shame, because there's a lot to her.' He had the writers all on speakerphone. He was interested in knowing what I thought. I went into saying, 'Carol is probably this woman that's got the Avon starter kits and Tupperware starter kits in that back bedroom. She took that course with Tony Robbins. She knows she's capable of so much more, but she's just in that cycle. So, it's a shame, but you've got to do what you've got to do. I understand'." Likewise, former showrunner Glen Mazzara said, "I told her that and then we came up with a better plan that was that if T-Dog had saved her, if T-Dog sacrificed his life we felt that that sacrifice was only worthwhile if Carol lived. But we didn’t want to reveal that Carol was alive at the end of that episode because we were really going with the devastation of Lori’s death. And we were just embracing the mournful aspect of that last scene where Rick breaks down and we did not want to undercut it with the positive of 'oh, here is Carol'." He then expressed praise over Carol's survival saying, "I will say that I think [McBride] has done a great job with Carol this season, the character has become a fan favorite, the character has really come along, she takes a lot of risks and Carol’s work when she sees the baby and then realizes that Lori hasn’t made it is one of the best scenes we have done all year and I give credit for that to Melissa and she is just a fantastic actress."
McBride has received critical acclaim for her performance as Carol and won positive reviews from critics from the third season onwards. Many critics praised McBride's performance in her character's centered episode "The Grove" of the fourth season. In March 2014, McBride's performance in "The Grove" made her TVLine's Performer of the Week, as it concluded, saying, "Now it’s our turn to do what we must — applaud McBride for a performance that could stand as a master class in the merits of restraint." Others singled out the actions of Carol in the season 5 premiere "No Sanctuary", which earned critical praise and extremely positive fan reception. In 2014, McBride was a promising contender for an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category, though she did not receive a nomination.
Writing for Vox, Todd VanDerWerff lauded Melissa McBride's performance in the season five premiere "No Sanctuary", saying:
Say what you will about The Walking Dead's slapdash approach to character development, but McBride's ferocious, frequently Emmy-nomination-worthy performance has made sense of a woman whom the show seemed to actively be avoiding understanding for a good long while. It began in the first half of season two, when Carol's daughter, Sophia, disappeared and was eventually revealed to have become a zombie. In the wake of that loss, Carol began to harden herself, and McBride started giving a flinty, unapproachable performance that gained strength from moments when the old, vulnerable Carol peeked through. In "No Sanctuary," Carol strides around in a poncho that makes one wonder if Hollywood shouldn't remake Clint Eastwood's "Man with No Name" trilogy of Westerns starring McBride instead. She discerns that her friends are in danger thanks to some gunshots and quickly reads the situation in a remote cabin. She decides to turn a herd of zombies toward Terminus, then blows up a propane tank with a couple of well-placed shots and some fireworks. She is completely and totally dominant – not just over her enemies (and the undead monsters who surround her) but over every other character as well. It's impossible to watch her and not think, "Hey, let's have some more of that."
IndieWire singled out McBride's performance in the entire explosive premiere, saying, "But the stand-out was McBride, whose Carol became the most interesting character on the show, simply because she was willing and able to do things other characters wouldn't." 
Writing about the episode "Consumed", AV Club's Zack Handlen praised McBride's performance and characterisation as Carol, saying, "McBride is especially great; while her character’s evolution came in fits and starts, the actress manages to pull all of that together into a consistent, and endlessly fascinating, persona." Similarly, Rebecca Hawkes of The Daily Telegraph praised Melissa McBride, saying she was "...in a league of her own, capable of quietly dominating every scene she’s in."
Many critics praised the character in the second half of the fifth season and onwards into season 6 where Carol stages herself as a meek housewife in the community of Alexandria in order to be assured that they are trustworthy, which includes stealing back the group's guns in the process for safety precaution and protection. Tim Surette of TV.com said that "[Carol] continues to be the absolute best". He noted that "[Her] reaction was the most interesting one, as she seemingly went all-in on participating in the Junior League, downplaying the kind of badass she became in the woods, and fondly remembering her abusive husband (yeah right) to Alexandria leader Deanna, while also warning Rick in private that the longer the group stayed in Alexandria, the weaker they would become. I love you, Carol, and I love your huge-ass guns." Surette, Mark Perigald of the The Boston Herald, and Amanda Michelle Steiner for People found Carol to be humorous in her lies in the episode "Remember".
Rebecca Hawkes of The Daily Telegraph praised the character in her review for "Forget", saying, "Carol is proving to be one of the most complex, interesting female characters on TV right now." Tim Surette for TV.com reviewing "Forget" jokingly stated: "Carol, you continue to amaze me and I am really close to asking you to prom."
In 2012, she and her fellow cast members won the Satellite Award for Best Cast - Television Series for the third season. For her performance in season 4, McBride won the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television, and earned a nomination for the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
In 2015, for her performance in the fifth season of the series, she won another Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television, becoming the first actress to win the award multiple times and back-to-back years. She was also nominated for a Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Leading Actress in a Television Series.
Despite praise from critics and fan campaigning, McBride did not receive nominations for the 2014 or 2015 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She did however, receive nominations both years for the EWwy Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama, which recognizes Emmy-snubbed favorites. She did not win the award in 2014, but was announced as the winner in 2015.
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