Photo: Jesse Grant (Getty Images for AMC)

Given the events of last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, which we’ll at least go a few sentences before spoiling, longtime featured players Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride (Daryl and Carol) have suddenly found themselves significantly more valuable to AMC’s zombie franchise than they had been in the past. Reedus and McBride have been around since the very beginning of the show, with their roles in the main storylines expanding as more and more characters got eaten or bashed to death with baseball bats or whatever, and it looks like AMC is ready to recognize how important the two of them are going to be if it has any hope of retaining what’s left of the show’s once-astronomical popularity—especially given, you know, the things that happened on last night’s show.

So yeah, both Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan both left The Walking Dead in the last episode, though Lincoln is going to get his own series of standalone zombie movies on AMC, and now The Hollywood Reporter says that Reedus and McBride have signed multi-year Walking Dead deals that will allow them to hop from the main series to any other spin-offs and standalones that AMC has in the works. In other words, Daryl and Carol will stick around in some fashion even if The Walking Dead ends after this season or if they get written off somehow like Lincoln’s Rick did. Plus, if AMC suddenly rethinks this whole zombie thing and decides to end The Walking Dead without putting Daryl and Carol into their own spin-off or writing them into Fear The Walking Dead, Reedus and McBride will still get paid for a few years.

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That’s about as good as it gets for an actor on a TV show, and it should also be good news to any fans who have stuck with The Walking Dead for all these years—since these two characters are at least consistently cool, even if Daryl used to ride a Nazi motorcycle and nobody ever really addressed it. Reedus is said to be getting somwhere between $50 million and $90 million with his deal, while McBride is expected to get $20 million. Meanwhile, Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne, is in talks for a deal like this of her own, though her new associations with the Marvel Cinematic Universe might make it more difficult for AMC to hold onto her.