Saying goodbye to a series is never easy, but it’s especially though when you’ve spent 12 years starring in it and Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead knows it well. Reedus, who plays Daryl on the series, got emotional during his last day of filming with franchise executive producer Greg Nicotero. The longtime Walking Dead star confessed he was “short-circuiting” while trying to process the last day of production.
“I can’t really wrap my head around this,” Reedus said in a video posted to Nicotero’s Instagram account. “I’ll be on the bathroom floor with a martini and tears.”
Reedus then took a moment to thank Nicotero, who also serves as a special make-up effects supervisor and director on the AMC hit, noting, “It’s been a real joy.” You can see Nicotero’s post below!
Reedus and Nicotero aren’t the only ones feeling nostalgic. Many fans hit the comment section to express how they felt, including a special fan of the series. Guns N’ Roses musician Slash wrote, “F–k, I can’t believe it’s over. What an epic journey for one of the greatest and most original TV series ever!” Similarly, Matthew Negrete. who served as a writer and producer on The Walking Dead before becoming the showrunner for spin-off The Walking Dead: World Beyond, commented, “Wow wow wow wow. So surreal. All my best to all of you.”
While The Walking Dead is coming to an end this fall after its 11-season run, Reedus told PEOPLE exclusively that he brought some meaningful mementoes of his zombie-killing character home with him after filming wrapped in March.
I walked out with my entire outfit. I just, I didn’t change clothes,” Reedus shares of his last day on set. “I was hugging people and crying and saying goodbye to everybody that I just ended up driving home in my outfit. So I have all of it.”
Aside from a select few wardrobe pieces and props–turned–artifacts that have been inducted into the Smithsonian Museum, Reedus reveals that he “has all the other vests — and I think, all the other crossbows. I think I have like eight crossbows now, which is crazy.”
But that’s not all!
In addition to keeping a few pieces of TV history, he presented the cast and crew with parting gifts — uniquely crafted in the most Daryl Dixon way. “I gave everybody these wrap gifts… these little special knives I had made,” Reedus says. “It was sad and bittersweet.”
He also made mention that he was the first person to give a speech during the final day on set — and after 12 years of filming and “14 straight months of shooting,” nerves still ran high for the seemingly fearless actor.
“There were a lot of tears and a lot of speeches,” Reedus says. “They handed me the mic first and I was like, ‘Uh oh,’ because I was nervous… It was super emotional.”
He adds, “I think what I’ll miss the most is the people, not just the cast, but the crew. You become very tight with the crew after that long. We’ve become really good friends and a lot of us still keep in contact.”
Despite the many emotions poured out on set that night, reality didn’t kick in for Reedus until he left. “It was sort of surreal when it was happening. It kind of hit me when I drove home,” he recalls.
“I take a certain way to my house in Georgia through the woods, and when I got to my gate, I was like, ‘Wow, I’m never going to take that route again,'” he tells PEOPLE. “The sun was coming up [it was an all night shoot] and it kind of hit me in the car. I was like, ‘Wow, that just ended.'”
Reedus was optimistic about the bittersweet ending, suggesting, “Maybe when I feel sad, I’ll just put on [Daryl’s] outfit and walk around downtown.”
Then he has a second thought: “Nah, that would get weird.”
Don’t be sad: we haven’t seen the last of Daryl yet!
You can breathe! Norman Reedus is set to reprise his role very soon in a The Walking Dead spinoff. In September 2020, AMC confirmed that a spin-off centered on Daryl and Carol (Melissa McBride) was in the works with Angela Kang tapped as showrunner.
In July, Reedus promised that the spin-off “won’t look anything like The Walking Dead. It won’t look like an episode of Walking Dead with just Daryl and Carol,” he shared. “It’ll be completely different.”
“That’s a wrap. 11 seasons 12 years. Never been so beat up and it was an absolute blast. Thank you to all of you that took this ride with us, and what a ride it was,” star Norman Reedus tweeted.
The Walking Dead’s series finale is set to hit fans’ screens “late in the year.”