Whether you’re a passionate reader of the comics or an avid follower of the AMC television series, you’ve got to be well aware that this season of The Walking Dead has shocked audiences everywhere for its adherence to (and deviance from) the original Robert Kirkman comics. The show is more bloody than ever and some of our favorite characters are behaving in ways so foreign, they’re hardly recognizable. One of fans’ favorite characters from the show that has proved herself completely different from her comic alternate self is Carol.
The Carol that is met early in The Walking Dead TV show, when Frank Darabont still directed in season one, is most similar to the version that comic readers are familiar with. Carol Peletier was never a woman with a ton of moxie or gumption. She did always play the victim card and very rarely took initiative in attempting to solve group problems. However, as fans of the TV show know, AMC producers took Melissa McBride’s character in another direction. The Carol in the show is objectively one of the toughest on the show.
Carol sure does get a lot of screen time on the show and she’s bound to continue getting a ton of attention this season. Avid fans likely think they know a lot about Carol Peletier- but do they? How many tidbits of information have been missed or forgotten as they’ve binge watched the show? How much has changed in Carol from her debut in season one to where she is now? Reacquaint yourself with one of the show’s favorite characters. Here are fifteen things you didn’t know about Carol. (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD)
15. She’s One of Four Remaining From the Original Atlanta Group
When Robert Kirkman set out on his project to write The Walking Dead, he published a foreword saying that it was just a fun adventure that would follow Rick and his family through the apocalypse; once Rick was gone, the adventure would end. With that in mind, fans have always known that Rick (and, likely, Carl) would remain safe through the seasons of the show. Almost anyone else was vulnerable to be killed off. At this point in the series, she is one of two survivors left from the original Atlanta group excluding Rick and his son. She and Daryl are the only two left from the beginning! Interestingly enough, neither of them are the same person they once were when they started in Atlanta. While the two started off having little to no care for each other, they’ve saved each other’s’ lives countless times and developed an unbreakable bond.
14. She’s Younger than You Think
Carol is much younger than you believe her to be. Melissa McBride, who plays Carol on The Walking Dead, is 51, though she’s playing Carol a bit younger. According to the comic books, Carol made some impulsive decisions and mistakes when she was younger and her daughter Sophia was a teenage pregnancy. She had Sophia when she was only fifteen or sixteen years old. By that logic, at the time of the apocalypse and her introduction to the Atlanta group, she’s only in her late twenties. Sure, maybe the show went in a slightly different direction and decided to make Carol a bit older, but she’s still no older than her mid to late forties. That means that in the television show, she’s either been with Ed Peletier since her adolescence and somehow managed to circumvent having children until her mid-thirties or that they got together a bit later in life and had Sophia before Carol felt she was “too old” to have kids. In any case, she still has plenty of fighting years left in her before she gets “too old” for anything.
13. She’s Claustrophobic
You know it! Carol is a bit claustrophobic! We suppose that’s not a huge fear to have to worry about in the zombie apocalypse since there aren’t too many occasions wherein she would have to stuff herself into tight spaces, but it’s still a very real and stifling phobia. Remember back in season one when the Atlanta group hauls themselves into the center of dangerous Atlanta to visit the Center for Disease Control? While there, they run into Dr. Edwin Jenner, who reluctantly invites the group inside his still powered facility, tests their blood for infections, and invites them to join him at his proverbial last supper. As he takes the group into an elevator and the group descends, Carol asks if they’re going underground and confirms that the idea aggravates a bit of her claustrophobia. Since leaving the CDC, Carol has never mentioned her claustrophobia; perhaps the fear of being blown up blew her claustrophobia out of the water.
12. She Was Once Very Religious
With all of her sins committed, the great losses she’s suffered, and the pains she’s inflicted on so many of her victims and people around her, you wouldn’t think Carol is very religious. Perhaps, at this point in the show, she isn’t really. At this point, she has bashed in the reanimated skull of her abusive husband; she has lost her daughter and watched her resurrected corpse be shot in the face by her friend and leader; she has been banished from her group for trying to save it from plague and disease; and she has witnessed more death and despair than anyone would wish for in a lifetime. That’s enough to make anyone’s faith waiver. However, if you’re caught up on current seasons, you’ll notice that Carol has taken up the rosary again since raiding one of Negan’s outposts. Is this to continue her charade as an innocent, harmless wayfarer, or because she is clinging to her faith again in times of peril?
11. Robert Kirkman Never Saw Carol as Strong (people like her don’t survive)
The creator of the series and writer of the comics, the one and only genius Robert Kirkman, was never a loving fan of Carol. While he created the character and of course loves all of his creations, he’s said in interviews that he never envisioned Carol as a strong character; she was originally supposed to be an example of that kind of person that would not survive in this new, Darwinian, survival-of-the-fittest world. Several times, producers have considered following Kirkman’s template for killing Carol off and showing how the battered and victimized woman cannot prevail over these conditions, but each time Carol has prevailed. “A lot of the tactics she used to survive that relationship [with her husband] pre-apocalypse are coming in very handy now,” Melissa McBride has said. “She’s very observant, very methodical. In many ways, I have seen her as a hero from the beginning. Deep down inside, I knew she had struggled against a lot in her life. I knew she was trying and struggling and she was still here.”
10. Losing Her Family Helped Her Survive
These violent ends have had violent delights for Carol. While losing her abusive husband was nothing pleasant or fun for Carol, it was certainly what she needed. Even in the apocalypse Ed was abusive and horrible to both his wife and daughter; with him out of the picture, Carol was forced to be more self-sufficient and to take more accountability for the lives of herself and those around her. When she was unable to do that in the beginning of season two, it cost her the life of her daughter. While this was a devastating loss and will be something Carol carries with her the rest of her life, it afforded her the opportunity of a clean slate and a fresh start. While the deaths of her daughter and husband were perhaps more traumatic than the end of the world, they were also the best things that could have happened to her in this man-eat-man world.
9. She Loved Tyreese
Did you ever watch episodes in season four and wonder to yourself, “do Tyreese and Carol have… something else going on?” If not, that’s understandable… Tyreese did just lose his girlfriend Karen, and Carol did just kill Karen. But if you did wonder if there was some weird sexual tension lying just under the surface, you’ve got some keen insight. While the shows never delved into it as much as they could have, perhaps due to Tyreese’s untimely death, Carol and Tyreese were totally into each other in the comics. Furthermore, while Tyreese was interested in Carol as a person, liked her a lot, and enjoyed physical interactions with her, Carol absolutely fell head over heels for Tyreese. She felt protected, taken care of, and admired when she was with him. Their relationship was, for a time, the only life raft she had to cling to in perilous and frightening times.
8. She Hated Michonne
When Michonne first showed up on the television show and joined the others at the prison, it was just when Daryl had discovered that Carol had in fact survived the prison swarm of walkers that had killed Lori and T-Dog. Carol, like everyone else in the group, was initially distrustful of Michonne but grew to trust her out of necessity and familiarity. There’s nothing like a common enemy to bond strangers! However, in the comics their relationship was not so smooth. When Michonne showed up at the prison, Tyreese immediately took a liking to her. Initially it was an amicable liking, though Michonne wished it were more. Carol felt threatened and fearful that Michonne would steal Tyreese away from her, so opted to hate her and tried to drive her out of the group. Her fears weren’t exactly unfounded either, as eventually Tyreese and Michonne hooked up behind Carol’s back leading to dark and deadly results.
7. Glenn Had the Hots for Carol
Who wouldn’t have the hots for this lady? Yes, our dearly beloved and dearly departed Glenn once had the hots for our little Carol Peletier! Way back in the comics, shortly after the Greene family, including Hershel and Maggie, joined the group and everyone settled down at the prison but before Glenn and Maggie were a serious couple, Glenn was pretty interested in Carol. They were good friends and Glenn was interested in perhaps asking her to engage in a more romantic relationship but failed to do so before she became involved with Tyreese. When Carol caught Tyreese cheating on her with Michonne and their relationship dissolved, Glenn saw the potential for picking up where they’d left off. While he may have been correct and they might have been able to make something work, if you’re familiar with the comics, you’ll know that Glenn never really got the chance to ask Carol for her hand.
6. Carol and Polygamy
Carol doesn’t exactly seem like the type that would be into polygamy, does she? If you’re not aware of what polygamy is, let us refresh your memory: polygamy is the belief, practice, or custom of having more than one wife per a single husband. And yes: Carol, for a time, believed that polygamy was the best bet that she and everyone had in this new world. After her break with Tyreese, she targeted Lori and Rick and tried to persuade them that polygamy was a good and healthy idea. She even forced a kiss on each of them! As she explained it, “it’s not that crazy. This just makes sense to me. I love you both and we could all raise Carl and Sophia and the new baby together. I know it seems weird now but we don’t have to follow the old rules, we can make the new ones. We could all be happy together.”
5. 37 Confirmed Kills
Don’t let those floral patterns and grandma sweaters confuse you; Carol is one of the most dangerous characters on the show. In order of most dangerous, we’ve got the Governor ringing in as the most dangerous confirmed killer on the show with fifty kills; second place, of course, goes to Rick with forty confirmed kills; third place goes to the lovely cookie-baking, cardigan-wearing, sweet-smiling Carol Peletier with 37 confirmed kills! Hey, nothing’s wrong with bronze. It’s not surprising that she’s gotten as many kills piled up under her name with her attacks against people like Karen and David, all the way up to her slaughter at Terminus. What is perhaps most impressive about Carol’s kill count is that Carol didn’t start taking point in defensive and offensive attacks until about season three. That means that in four seasons, she’s nearly beaten Rick’s in six. Look out boys, Carol’s coming through.
4. She Committed Suicide (Comics)
NOT IN THE TELEVISION SHOW! Calm down, everyone take a deep breath. Carol is okay, you’re okay, Melissa McBride is okay. Take a deep breath. You alright? Let’s move on.
In the comics, Carol hit an ugly speed bump and quickly spiraled into a wild depression that led her down a dark and lonely road to a brutal and ugly suicide that left her still living daughter, Sophia, alone with Rick’s group. What triggered this suicidal spiral? Tyreese’s affair with Michonne. Afterwards, Carol tried to cling to Rick and Lori in a desperate attempt to find someone to care for her. When they turned her down on her (pretty preposterous) proposal of polygamy, she opted to have one last fling with one of Maggie’s younger brothers, Billy, then walk into the jaws of a walker that was chained up for protection in the prison yard. Worry not, Sophia was taken in by Glenn and Maggie; but the group mourned the loss of Carol.
3. She’s Certainly Still Suicidal
While the television show has certainly taken a different route with Carol’s character than the comics, there are still many frightening parallels that concern fans constantly. Since season three, when Carol stepped up and took more of an active role fighting in the group, she hasn’t seemed like the weak and feeble character that Robert Kirkman invented for the comics. However, as of late, more of Carol’s doubts, insecurities, fears, and terrors have returned to haunt her. She’s tried to commit suicide several times now. Consider when she lost Mika and Lizzie, then offered Tyreese a handgun and told him she killed his girlfriend. What about, more recently, when she ran away from Alexandria to wither away in the wilderness only to be discovered by Morgan? Most recently, she tried to run away into isolation only to be followed by Ezekiel. Fortunately, the people in her life care too much about her to let her go so easily.
2. Fans Speculate Carol is Next to the Chopping Block
This season has started off with devastation and horror. We have lost Abraham, Glenn, and nearly lost Daryl to the horrors of Negan’s tyranny. Some fans speculate that the losses of the season have only just begun and that many actors’ contracts will expire in the near future. Others remain in hopeful denial that we’ll lose more staples of the cast in the near future. One of the most popular (or, rather, unpopular) fan theories is that Carol will be the next character to bite the dust. Why is that? Some believe that Carol’s character has come full circle in many ways. She’s become the woman she never thought she could be; she’s suffered innumerable losses; she’s longed for death and been ready for it so many times over so many years. Perhaps her time is coming. However, maybe she will be one of the fortunate few that will be content when the bell tolls for her.
1. She May Have a Romantic Involvement with Ezekiel
On the plus side, especially if Carol is not next to the chopping block, she may have some exciting developments heading her way. With Michonne engaged in a very serious romantic relationship with Rick, her traditional comic book trajectory with Ezekiel has been derailed. And with Carol still living and resembling hardly any aspects of her original comic book character, readers and viewers are in uncharted territories with this new relationship developing between Carol and Ezekiel. After leaving The Kingdom, Carol was promptly visited by Ezekiel. Perhaps it was because he knew she was an asset to his team of warriors; perhaps because she is one of the few that knows the secrets to his origins and history; but perhaps it is because he feels something endearing for Carol, something that she might return for Ezekiel for the first time in a long time. Who’s to say what’s going to happen, but you have to admit: it’s hard not to be attracted to a guy with a pet tiger.