Carol, the former Babysitter Of The Year, has had an edge to her for some time. However, in the most recent episode of The Walking Dead, titled "JSS", she seems to be bipolar. In one moment she's fondly recalling her "Fall Casserole" she used to make for her husband with all the canned goods that hadn't been used during the year, and the next moment she's some kind of bloodthirsty Ninja.

That's not to say that other people in the show don't kill, but the majority of them have had pre-defined roles and mostly stick to them. Glenn, for instance, will kill, but never looks like he's enjoying it. Darryl is a hunter, and most of his kills display the same emotion a hunter would display when making a kill. Carol, on the other hand, seems to have a touch of evil in her, if you recall the "cookie incident".

Is there any solid indication in the show anywhere that Carol is losing touch with reality? She's so entirely different from the woman we met early in the series who was afraid of her husband.

  • I would say it's pretty safe to bet that everyone in the show has lost touch with reality in some fashion. I don't think Carol necessarily enjoys killing, but I do believe she knows it's a necessary part of living in this world, so it doesn't phase her. Not saying that's rational thinking, but it's how she gets by doing what she has to do to get by.
    – New-To-IT
    Oct 20, 2015 at 13:09
  • What's realistic personality change/psychological trauma in a crapsack zombie apocalypse world where every corner and shadow harbor death?
    – cde
    Oct 20, 2015 at 14:55
  • And the old nietzsche quote about "gaze into the abyss" is relevant here. As is how common firefighters becoming arsonists, or the stanford prison experiment. People snap and change to various degrees under pressure.
    – cde
    Oct 20, 2015 at 15:01

2 Answers 2


I think you're misreading what they've been doing with her character. She hasn't been becoming bipolar, she's been acting like a spy for her group since they first arrived at Alexandria.

Her transition from demure housewife to apocalyptic survivor who's prepared to do whatever it takes to survive (and general badass) has been going on for quite some time. Remember when people where getting sick at the prison? She did what she thought was necessary to protect the group and then played it cool afterwards. Rick, of all people, thought she went too far and had her leave the group.

And remember when everyone was trapped in Terminus? Carol didn't exactly ask politely for her friends to be released.

I'd suggest you rewatch the episode Indifference, way back at the start of season four (episode four): https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indifference_(The_Walking_Dead)

The whole episode hinges on how much her character had already transitioned by that point.

With all that in mind, I don't think there's any question that she's only been pretending to be meek and innocent while in Alexandria. That incident with Sam wasn't Carol having a bipolar moment, she was lifting up the mask she'd been wearing so that she could make sure Sam didn't cause trouble for her.

Maybe you could argue that her character's changed to much over the series (though I'm inclined to think the apocalypse might have a profound effect on your character), but it certainly hasn't just started in Alexandria.

Also, while she, along with everyone else, misses the civilized world she used to know and the simple pleasure of making a good casserole, I wouldn't take that scene in the pantry to mean she was nostalgic for cooking for her husband. Ed was abusive, after all, and when she finds out what Pete's been up to she makes it clear to Rick that there's only one way to handle the situation, and making a casserole doesn't figure into her plan. (Well, not at first, anyway: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KQFFv2CFoTM .)

Personally, I felt like Carol was far from a blood-thirsty ninja when Alexandria was invaded. Yes, she saved the group, yet again, and killed without hesitation, but she looked like she was on the verge of tears when she had to euthanize the woman from the pantry. And when she takes one of the cigarettes at the end it really seems like the events have taken their toll on her. In that moment she doesn't seem the least bit blood thirsty. Rather, she understands what it takes to survive in the horrible world they're living in, and she's determined to do what it takes no matter how hard it is.

Really, despite all the unremorseful killing, there's a lot of subtle emotions running under the surface of Carol, and once you appreciate those her actions make a lot more sense. (Her character definitely wouldn't work without the amazing acting chops of Melissa McBride.)

  • I think this is a spot-on analysis. She seems to genuinely lament the "loss of innocence" of Alexandria, but at the same time, she has no patience or mercy for those who inflicted such brutality on those innocents.
    – Liesmith
    Oct 20, 2015 at 18:27

I wouldn't say Carol has become unhinged, she's just very, very realistic about her situation and what it takes to survive. As shown by her having a bit of a breakdown at the end of "JSS", she still feels emotions over her actions, but understands that, in the moment, emotions and feeling sorry for the enemy can get you killed.

You have to remember that Carol, in a sense, was a survivor even before the show. Her husband was shown to be abusive, but despite everything she still cared for him and protected him when the world was falling into a walker apocalypse.

Carol is simply the kind of person who knows what's at stake and what it takes to stay alive when everything goes south. Rick disagrees with her methods when he learns she was killing people in the prison and teaching children how to use weapons, but when she unexpectedly rescues them from their captors in Terminus, after which Rick sees that Carol has a grasp on what's at stake, and permits her to travel with them without questioning her again.

Going to the season before that, in the infamous episode "The Grove", Carol does everything she can to make Lizzie and Mika understand the dangers they'll face every day. She cares about the girls and wants them to be safe, but when Lizzie kills Mika thinking she'll come back to life and play with her, she knows there's no way her or anyone else will be safe with Lizzie around and does what has to be done. Later, she leaves it up to Tyreese to kill her as well when she confesses she's the one who killed Karen and David back in the prison, trying to contain the illness, but Tyreese says he understands, and to me acknowledges that Carol is capable of seeing the problems and solutions that no one else sees, or is willing to see.

And really, that's been the main focus of the latest season so far: Rick's entire group seems to be unhinged, but at their core they simply know what needs to be done to stay safe, and eventually everyone else realizes that. They still care, they still want to protect people, but when people come after them they are no holds barred in keeping them and theirs safe from harm. Rick even does his level best to push the residents of Alexandria to face the walkers they encounter, even if it's with little success.

Carol and the others may be unhinged, but so is the rest of the world. The difference is Carol and the rest of the group still know who's good and who's bad, and act accordingly should the bad people reveal themselves.

  • Would the downvoter care to explain why they voted down?
    – MattD
    Oct 20, 2015 at 19:14

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