Carol, her husband Ed, and their daughter Sophia meet Shane, Lori and Carl on the road to Atlanta. Taking pity on them, Carol offers to share her husband's rations until he chastises her for compromising their "operational security."
The wife of an abusive man, Carol is meek at the outset. But when Ed is killed in a walker attack, and later when Sophia is lost in the woods after fleeing the CDC in Atlanta, she finds a new inner strength.
In Sophia's absence, Carol bonds with Daryl, who's determined to find her daughter. After one particularly perilous search, Carol thanks Daryl for "doing more for my little girl today than her own daddy did his whole life."
Having lived most of her life as a victim, Carol is steadfast in her determination to never be one again. When Andrea visits the prison, Carol demonstrates her new outlook by urging Andrea to take action against the Governor: "You need to sleep with him, give him the greatest night of his life," Carol advises. "Get him to drop his guard, and then when he's sleeping, you can end this."
As peace settles in at the prison, Carol makes it her mission to ensure that no child is as helpless as Sophia was. She secretly begins teaching the children how to use knives and, when a virus overtakes the prison, promises one of the victims that she'll look after his daughters, Lizzie and Mika. She adopts the girls as if they were her own and urges them to be strong if they want to survive.
As the virus claims more victims, Carol secretly kills Karen and David, two infected group members, in an attempt to contain the outbreak. When Rick discovers that Carol was their killer, she defends herself, insisting she was trying to save lives. Nevertheless, Rick notes that Tyreese — Karen's boyfriend — would kill Carol if he found out the truth, and banishes her from the prison.
Carol is absent during the Governor's second attack, but remains watchful over the survivors. After the group scatters, she joins up with Lizzie, Mika, and Rick's daughter Judith, saving them from walkers after Tyreese briefly leaves them to help a stranger under attack.
The newly-formed group soon stumbles upon a secluded farmhouse in the midst of a pecan grove. Carol and Tyreese consider trying to make a life for themselves there, but Lizzie exhibits increasingly disturbing behavior, calling walkers her friends and insisting that they're people. To prove her point, Lizzie kills Mika with a knife. Horrified, Carol takes Lizzie into the woods and shoots her.
Afterwards, Carol confesses to Tyreese that she killed Karen. Handing him a gun, Carol invites Tyreese to "do whatever you have to do."
Tyreese grips the table, trying to contain his anger. "I forgive you," he finally says. "It's a part of you now. Me too."
A veteran commercial, voice, and television actress, Melissa McBride began her acting career in Atlanta, GA, shortly after graduating college. She made her prime-time network television debut guest starring in Matlock opposite the late Andy Griffith in a two-part special.
McBride’s additional television credits include Dawson’s Creek, Walker, Texas Ranger, Profiler, and American Gothic. Her television movie credits include Living Proof, with Harry Connick Jr.; Pirates of Silicon Valley, with Noah Wyle; A Season in Purgatory, based on the book written by Dominick Dunne, with Patrick Dempsey; along with numerous television commercials.
McBride’s film credits include The Mist, directed by Frank Darabont; the festival award-winning film Lost Crossing, directed by Eric Blue; and The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, directed by Peter Care and produced by Jodie Foster. She was also the voice double for Anne Bancroft in the 2008 animated feature Delgo.
In the music scene, McBride played ‘Lucy, the messed-up dressed-up waitress’ opposite Martin Sheen in Diamond Rio’s music video It’s All in Your Head. In addition to her on-camera and voice acting, McBride has worked behind the camera as a commercial casting director.
McBride was honored with the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her performance in The Walking Dead Season 4 episode “The Grove.” This episode also garnered McBride a Critics’ Choice Television Awards nomination.