The news that AMC's zombie juggernaut The Walking Dead was coming to an end after its eleventh season was a shock to many, just as the news that the franchise would live on (in one of its many spin-off iterations) as a road trip drama featuring Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride). But it seems like the plans for that spin-off not only formulated much earlier in the TWD life cycle — but actually planned for a different introduction of the biker spin-off entirely.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Reedus explained that when the new show was first being talked about between the stars and showrunner (Angela Kang, who will continue over from the main series), it was during a time when there was no end in sight for the TWD flagship. "Angela and I started talking about it during [Season 9 finale 'The Storm']," Reedus said. "I remember that we started talking about it then. I was pitching these ideas, 'cause it was kind of like 'After eight years really, where do you see this show going?' And I had an idea and I kind of threw it out there and we talked about it a lot."
But because there was no end date for TWD, the plan would have been for Daryl and Carol to leave TWD in the middle of its run — akin to what happened with Fear the Walking Dead...but with periodic returns to the main series. "I didn't know the flagship show would end," Reedus said. "The whole thing was we would take off and we'd come back and check in and we would take off. So I didn't know that was going to happen. And to be honest, I was hoping that would never happen because, you know, that's the mothership. I'm scared to leave the mothership. That's scary new ground. I mean, I'm excited for the spin-off and I'm excited for the type of show it will be, but I didn't see that coming. That kind of came out of nowhere."
The end of the series may have been a surprise, but the spin-off certainly wasn't — especially after the Season 10 premiere foreshadowed some kind of buddy adventure between the pair. "When I read that in that first episode of that season, I was like, 'Oh, that's from the thing we talked about!'" Reedus said.
Now fans will need to wait for The Walking Dead to end after its eleventh season before the Daryl/Carol spin-off looks to follow it as a bit of a spiritual sequel series — which isn't set to air until 2023.