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SYFY WIRE The Walking Dead

Norman Reedus opens up about Melissa McBride's 'The Walking Dead' exit: 'She's taking time off'

Reedus will now go it alone as Daryl Dixon in the Europe-based series.

By Josh Weiss
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier and Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon

Last week, fans of AMC's The Walking Dead were shocked to learn that Melissa McBride would not appear in a planned spinoff centered around the fan favorite characters of Carol Peletier and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus). At the time, most speculated the decision probably had something to do with McBride wanting to take a well-deserved rest after spending more than a decade on the mothership series based on the comic of the same name.

That hypothesis, it turns out, was right on the money according to Reedus.

Appearing on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon Monday evening (check out full episodes of The Tonight Show on Peacock), Reedus explained that his longtime co-star was "taking time off," while strongly hinting that Carol will live beyond the series finale. "Twelve years is a grueling schedule and she wanted to take some time off, so she’s doing that. She deserves it," said the actor, who apparently faced backlash online when news of McBride's exit first broke.

"I imagine those characters are gonna meet back up at some point and I might even meet up with some other characters down the road," he continued. "But she’s taking time off and in the meantime, they were like, ‘Hey, you wanna go on a mission?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah! Let’s go on a mission.'"

The Daryl-centric spinoff, which is still without an official title, will be shot and set in Europe. Production is slated to kick off this summer.

Check out the full interview below:

The final eight episodes of The Walking Dead are expected to premiere on AMC this fall. Photography wrapped at the end of March following a brief hiatus where Reedus was allowed to heal up from a minor head injury sustained on-set.

“There was a lot of drinking, there was confetti cannons," the actor recalled of the final shooting day. "They handed me the mic and it sort of felt surreal. A friend of mine taught me a phrase: ‘Is the juice worth the squeeze?’ I love that phrase and I said it to the group. I was like, ‘The Walking Dead juice has always been worth the squeeze.’ And I realized how perverted that sounded."

He continued: “This last season was a full year, which was exhausting. You’re in the woods and you’re crying and you’re killing and screaming and fighting. You’ve seen the show. It’s not Succession where you’re on a yacht having caviar. We’re eating squirrels and killing each other.”

If you're looking to satisfy your zombie craving immediately, head over to Peacock and check out the movie that kickstarted the entire genre: George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead.