The Walking Dead

Walking Dead: How Carol’s Children Are Connected In Real Life

Carol begins The Walking Dead as mother to the ill-fated Sophia, before later adopting Henry - and these young actors are all connected in real life.

Carol Peletier looks after several young survivors in The Walking Dead – and they all share a fascinating real life connection. The Walking Dead’s zombie apocalypse completely changes the notion of parenting. As the undead deprive adults of their children and children of their adults, adoption becomes a far more common (and fluid) phenomenon. For example, Michonne is the only mother Judith has ever known – despite the fact Michonne is essentially just her step-father’s girlfriend. The Walking Dead proves that parenting is much more than simple DNA, and Carol has experienced a more tragic maternal journey than most.

When Melissa McBridge’s Carol debuts in The Walking Dead, she’s desperately trying to keep biological daughter Sophia alive. She succeeds for a little over a season, before Sophia goes walkabout in The Walking Dead season 2, winding up bitten and herded into a barn. Carol sort-of adopts Lizzie and Mika Samuels in The Walking Dead season 4 (that doesn’t end well), but her next official child is Henry, an orphaned resident of Ezekiel’s Kingdom. Henry comes to know Carol as his mother and Ezekiel his father, spending more than 6 years under their care during The Walking Dead season 9’s time skip. That doesn’t end well either, as Henry falls victim to the mother-in-law from hell, Alpha.

While Carol’s Walking Dead story is plagued by tragedy, the real life bond between her children is far more heartwarming. In The Walking Dead seasons 1 and 2, Sophia Peletier is portrayed by young actress Madison Lintz. When Henry is later introduced in The Walking Dead season 7, he’s played by Macsen Lintz – Madison’s younger brother. The familial link between Carol’s onscreen children doesn’t end there either. When The Walking Dead skips ahead 6 years in season 9, Henry’s role required an older, teenage actor. Turning to the Lintz family once again, The Walking Dead cast Matt, older brother of Macsen and younger brother of Madison.

When TV shows/movies require older and younger versions of a character, many cast actors related to each other, giving a natural resemblance that can’t be replicated by other means. For example, Doctor Who cast Karen Gillan’s younger cousin to play the childhood Amy Pond, and Michael Gandolfini inherited his father’s Tony Soprano role in The Many Saints of Newark. That explains Matt Lintz inheriting Macsen’s Henry character in The Walking Dead, but Sophia is in no way related to Carol’s future adopted son. It’s certainly unusual to have three sibling actors portray two separate characters who share no common biology, but both call the same woman their mother.

Nevertheless, casting the Lintz brothers as Henry after their older sister played Sophia adds an extra helping of emotional authenticity to The Walking Dead. Speaking on Talking Dead, Melissa McBride remarked on how working with Macsen Lintz reminded her of acting alongside Madison when Sophia was still around in The Walking Dead‘s early seasons. That resemblance plays into how parenting Henry brings back painful memories of Sophia’s death for Carol, and raises questions of whether she’s ready to become a mother again. Perhaps the visual similarity between Henry and Sophia made a small contribution to McBride’s performance in those moments.

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