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Melissa McBride's recent exit from The Walking Dead spinoff series originally centered around the characters of Daryl Dixon and Carol Peletier has apparently sparked fan backlash against Norman Reedus, who will now go it alone in the Season 11 follow-up.
Things have gotten so bad, in fact, that co-star Jeffrey Dean Morgan (known for playing the villain-turned-protagonist Negan) came to Reedus' defense on Twitter early Friday morning. In addition to calling out viewers for their inappropriate behavior online, Morgan also emphasized that McBride's exit was entirely down to the actress's judgment and had nothing to do with Reedus.
"Some of you have gone WAY too far," he wrote. "TOXIC. Attacking norm for crap he has NOTHING to do with? Melissa made a call that was hers alone. She wants/needs a break. Respect that. Factors involved that are nobody’s business. Norm, who’s given more than anyone to you all. Just SH***Y."
The currently-untitled spinoff will be filmed and set against a European backdrop, with production scheduled to begin this summer. "Norman had nothing to do with picking location," Morgan added, dispelling a false rumor that the new setting was chosen so that the actor could be closer to his family. "That decision is all about story, ideas… MONEY. That’s studio/network. Not actors. We can say yes and do, or no, and not do… MAYBE. SOMETIMES. If we’re lucky and don’t have contract yet. Rarely does actor have that power."
Morgan's character will be the subject of a second spinoff project entitled Isle of the Dead, which is set to team up Negan with Lauren Cohan's Maggie for an adventure in post-apocalyptic Manhattan. There's also an anthology series in the works, as well as a long-gestating series of films based around Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes.
AMC has yet to announce a premiere date for The Walking Dead's final batch of eight episodes.