|“||You don't have to like what I did, Rick. I don't. I just accept it.||„|
|~ Carol to Rick Grimes about killing Karen and David.|
Carol Peletier is a main character and survivor of the outbreak in AMC's The Walking Dead, and is the lead female of the show as well as the deuteragonist, sharing the role with Daryl Dixon and Carl Grimes. During the initial outbreak, she evacuated with her abusive husband, Ed, and her daughter, Sophia, to Atlanta. They eventually joined a camp of survivors. During her daughter's disappearance, Carol forms a long-term close bond with fellow survivor, Daryl Dixon. After discovering that her daughter was bitten and reanimated, Carol, now the last surviving member of her family, gradually builds inner strength, becoming increasingly proficient with weapons and also gains medical experience through Hershel Greene's assistance. She later becomes the parental guardian of Lizzie and Mika Samuels after the death of their father, albeit briefly. Carol is currently the only known remaining female survivor of the original Atlanta group, hence why she is considered the lead female of the show. At the outset of the series, Carol is introverted and soft-spoken, though often meek and defenceless, particularly when it comes to facing her abusive husband, Ed. She remains fiercely protective over her daughter Sophia Peletier, attempting to shield her from the various dangers of their surroundings. After Ed is beaten half to death, Carol rebels against her husband's wishes for Sophia to spend time with him and begins to participate in group activities alone with their daughter. Due to Ed's loss, Carol slowly begins to empower herself. After Sophia's death, she begins to stand up for herself and gains more independence, while strengthening her bonds with the group. She is shown during season two to be a devout Christian, frequently praying for the well-being of herself and Sophia. She fervently holds onto her beliefs even after Sophia's death, insisting that her daughter is in heaven.
Starting in the third season and more prominently in the fourth season, Carol later obtains a pro-active and pragmatic stance when she secretly kills two sick members of the group in an attempt to prevent a deadly disease from spreading and shows little remorse over the deed, claiming that it was necessary. Rick Grimes deems Carol's actions morally questionable and exiles her. When Lizzie Samuels's psychotic tendencies escalate to the extent of killing her younger sister, Mika Samuels, Carol feels obligated to kill her in order to protect her group: herself, Tyreese Williams, and Judith Grimes. Later, Carol confesses to Tyreese, the boyfriend of Karen (one of the two ill members she kills), that she is responsible for the deaths and gains the forgiveness of Tyreese. The difficult choices Carol makes to stay alive leave her emotionally wounded as a result. In the fifth season, her resourcefulness is exemplified when she wipes out of the cannibalistic death compound, Terminus, where the other survivors are held captive, saving them all from potential death. Doing so, she regains the respect and praise of Rick. Despite her initial hesitation to rejoin the newly established group permanently, she eventually welcomes the idea, she and is seen as leader during the group's separation on their journey to Washington, D.C. Carol is revealed to be agnostic by the fifth season, revealing that she is no longer sure if she believes in God or the afterlife.
Carol's development has revealed her to be highly intelligent, cunning, objective, and resourceful, serving as a reliable confidant and counsellor to Rick, typically advising the most cerebral and analytical approach. She is not afraid to take matters into her own hands and is shown to be prepared to kill anyone whom she views as a threat. She is also a brilliant liar, as she is able to convince the entire town of Alexandria that she is a meek, incompetent old lady in an attempt to mask her much more savvy and sceptical personality. She still retains her sanity and her emotions of sympathy, but Carol will always take the logical route at any cost. Carol is occasionally shown to be extremely cold and cruel, as shown when she threatens to leave Sam Anderson for the Walkers if he tells of her presence in the gun gallery and coldly telling him to move on after his abusive father's death. She also threatens and attempts to kill Morgan Jones for getting in her way of killing Owen, the leader of the Wolves, despite the latter being confined and restrained. Carol was shown to be similar to Rick in the sense that both were unwilling to take chances when it comes to dealing with human threats and show an enthusiastic desire to kill them without hesitation.
Starting in the back half of the sixth season its shown that she does feel remorse in killing people, writing down a list of the peoples she has killed as she begins to feel the weight of all the people she has killed since the apocalypse began. Deep down Carol desperately wants to believe what Morgan believes, but the facts haven’t lined up like that for her. She’s a hardened combat veteran but born out of necessity and reluctance. Around this time she also confesses to considering herself the "mother" to all of the survivors and is able to do terrible things while maintaining her motherly side, to protect them. Her motherly side is shown in her threatening Pete for harming his family, as well as her refusal to let Maggie do anything dangerous, such as help in the assault on the Saviors while she is pregnant, going such lengths as to stick around to make sure Maggie doesn't slip away to protect her.
Despite her remorse in killing other survivors, Carol is still very much capable of committing murder to keep herself and those she cares about safe from danger as shown when she kill an entire group of Saviors that kidnapped herself and Maggie and coldly guns down a member that slashed the pregnant Maggie in the stomach with a knife. Following this, Carol choose to exile herself from her group claiming she can no longer kill any more human threats. Carol however has not weakened in any way as she single handily takes down another small group of Saviors herself after they refused to surrender. In the season six finale, it seems like Carol is accepting her fate just like when she is nearly killed by the Savior who survived her attack.
As opposed to her Comic Series counterpart, Carol in the TV series becomes stronger and more independent as the first season moves along. The inclusion of Ed as her husband, according to Robert Kirkman in The Walking Dead Chronicles, was to give her a solid foil to produce the strength needed to survive that the comic counterpart didn't have.
- Carol is one of the few characters in the TV series to outlive their Comic counterparts.
- Carol is the only female character in the TV series to appear in all seasons.
- Carol is the longest serving female character in the TV series, the second being Maggie Greene, the third being Michonne, and the fourth being Judith Grimes.
- As of "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be", Carol is one of the five remaining characters introduced in Season 1, the others being Rick Grimes, Carl, Daryl Dixon, and Morgan Jones.
- She is also currently the last female survivor of the original Atlanta Survivor Camp in Season 1.
- Carol is the first and only female member of the original Atlanta group to kill a living person.
- In the Comic series, Carol's daughter, Sophia, outlives her and is still alive, but in the TV series, it is the exact opposite.
- In the Comic series, Carol was in a relationship with Tyreese, but TV series, they were only good friends, even though she killed his girlfriend, Karen, who was sick with a deadly flu and Carol put her out of her misery. Despite knowing this, Tyreese forgives Carol and their friendship is more or less steady.