‘The Walking Dead’ writer says fans were likely never going to see Daryl and Leah kiss even if we weren’t in a pandemic

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Lynn Collins plays Leah, Daryl’s mysterious former flame, on ‘The Walking Dead.’ Eli Ade/AMC
  • Warning: There are spoilers ahead for season 10, episode 18 of “The Walking Dead.”
  • Leah and Daryl never kissed on Sunday’s episode or were seen getting physically intimate.
  • Even if there wasn’t a pandemic, the character’s likely wouldn’t have kissed.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

If you were expecting to see Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Leah (Lynn Collins) kiss on Sunday’s episode of “The Walking Dead,” it was likely never going to happen – pandemic or no pandemic.

“Full disclosure, I’m not sure we would had had Leah and Daryl kiss in this episode, even if it wasn’t COVID,” episode writer Nicole Mirante-Matthews said on AMC’s aftershow, “Talking Dead.”

“[Showrunner] Angela [Kang] and I had a lot of talks within the room about it because the fans are so passionate about him and so protective, and so I was like, ‘I’m good,'” she added.

The fans are pretty passionate when it comes to Daryl.

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Leah and Daryl know each other for 17 months before embarking on a more romantic relationship. Eli Ade/AMC

For years, many have hoped to see the fan-favorite paired with Carol (Melissa McBride), or, more recently, Connie (Lauren Ridloff). If you fall into one of those two “shipping” camps – when fans root for certain relationships on a show – you’re #TeamCaryl or #TeamDonnie.

On Sunday’s episode, during a series of flashback sequences, Daryl meets Leah in the woods during his ongoing search for Rick (Andrew Lincoln), who went missing on season nine. After bumping into each other for 17 months, on and off, the two start some sort of romantic relationship.

They’re never seen kissing or becoming intimate on-screen, but it’s heavily implied that the two sleep together.

Mirante-Matthews’ comments on the episode came after Collins suggested that Daryl and Leah didn’t kiss because of COVID-19 protocols on set, saying, “…We couldn’t kiss. There’s certain things that we could not do. Could you imagine what we as fans would be doing if that had been lifted and we had full rein?”

But it seems that wasn’t the case.

It sounds like the “TWD” crew was well aware of any potential backlash to pairing Daryl with another, new character and wanted to tip toe into Daryl’s first romantic relationship after 10 seasons of the show.

For fans who may believe that Leah’s character came as a result of the pandemic and “The Walking Dead’s” bonus six episodes, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

On “Talking Dead,” Melissa McBride, who plays Carol on the series, said she was informed while filming season 10, episode six that Daryl had a previous relationship.

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Daryl and Carol have a heart-to-heart about Connie…and also Leah on season 10, episode 6. AMC

McBride inquired about a line of dialogue after she referred to Daryl’s dog as someone else’s in a quick moment 14 minutes into the episode that’s easy to miss.

“When I asked about her dog, they told me a little bit about what would be coming for Daryl, that he had a past relationship with someone,” McBride said. “To what extent? I wasn’t really sure. I didn’t know until this episode.”

By the end of Sunday’s episode, we learn Leah has been missing for some time. Was she taken? Did she run off without her beloved dog?

There are still a lot of questions to answer there. We’re expecting to see more of Leah in “TWD” universe in the future, whether that’s on season 11 of “The Walking Dead” or the untitled Carol and Daryl spin-off.

You can follow along with our “Walking Dead” coverage here.