One of the oldest and most popular “ships” on The Walking Dead is Carol and Daryl, with the two survivors always sharing a firm bond that a lot of fans wish would cross over into romance. Ten seasons in, however, and it hasn’t occurred yet, but folks just won’t give up on their dreams of “Caryl” officially becoming a thing. One longtime TWD creative, whose opinion you may want to trust, doesn’t think it’s going to happen, though.
Michael Cudlitz starred opposite both Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride as Abraham Ford on the show from seasons 4 to 7. Since then, he’s remained part of the series by returning as a director. In fact, a couple of his episodes have featured some sweet Carol/Daryl moments. Season 9’s “Stradavarius,” for example, saw Carol entrust Daryl to look after her son Henry and also give the scraggly loner a haircut.
While speaking to Talk Dead To Me, Cudlitz was asked about his thoughts on where Carol and Daryl’s relationship is headed and he admitted that he thinks their “loving friendship” won’t lead to a romance.
“I see it the way I see it. I see them as kindred spirits because of what they’ve been through,” Cudlitz told said. “Personally, I don’t see a [romance], I see a loving friendship. I don’t personally see a relationship. Others do, and I think that’s great. Do what you do, you know?”
The actor/director is keen to stress, though, that this is his personal opinion and he doesn’t want to invalidate anyone else’s. As far as he’s concerned, if you’re hoping for some romantic development, then keep on hoping for it.
“I’ve been asked this before, ‘What did you mean for us to feel during that scene? What did that scene mean?’ I’m like, ‘What did it mean to you?’ I’m not going to tell you ‘no,’ that was your experience,” Cudlitz said. “That’s a valid experience, that is your experience. Why would I ruin your experience? It’s for the audience. We make it, we have a script, we shoot it, we put it together, and we put it out there. After we put it out there, it’s yours to do with what you want.”
With the way the show’s interpreted being out of the production team’s hands once it’s out there, Cudlitz says whatever the viewer sees in the characters’ relationships is “correct.”
“If you want to have them get together, I think they should hope for that,” the former Abraham Ford star added. “That’s what they’re getting out of it — they didn’t make it up out of nowhere, so that’s their experience. I’m like, ‘Knock yourselves out, that’s great.’ I think it’s all great, it’s all valid, it’s all correct.”
It’s unclear whether the writers room shares Cudlitz’s opinion or not. After all, showrunner Angela Kang has called the pair “soulmates,” which might raise fans’ hopes, but she didn’t necessarily mean that in a romantic sense. Then, of course, there’s also Carol’s continuing attachment to ex-husband Ezekiel and Daryl’s growing affection for Connie to consider.
In any case, we’ll find out what’s next for “Caryl” as The Walking Dead continues in its delayed season 10 finale and beyond on AMC.