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This is how we keep the world safe.
~ Toby Carlson after murdering a group leader.

Toby Carlson is a major antagonist in the final season of The Walking Dead, appearing in the episodes "Warlords" and "The Rotten Core" as the main antagonist. He is an assassin working for The Commonwealth, a merged group of apocalypse survivor communities, who secretly murders the leaders of rival groups under the pretext of trying to get them to join.

He is portrayed by Jason Butler Harner, who also portrayed Gordon Stewart Northcott in Changeling.

Biography

Prior to the zombie apocalypse, Carlson worked for the CIA as an interrogator and assassin. After the pandemic struck, he put his talents to use for a community of survivors called The Commonwealth, assassinating the leaders of rival communities to protect his group's supremacy. He sees himself as a defender of democracy rather than a hired killer; he truly believes that, by committing acts of terror and violence, he is serving the greater good and preserving freedom and peace. It is also revealed that he is a recovering alcoholic.

"Warlords"

Carlson has been "retired" as an assassin for four years by the time of his first appearance. Commonwealth leader Lance Hornsby calls him into his office and tasks him with leading a mission to an isolated religious group that hijacked a convoy of guns and cargo meant for the Commonwealth and getting the supplies back. Carlson protests that he is done with his old life as a killer, but reluctantly agrees to the mission after Hornsby threatens to ruin his life if he refuses.

Carlson asks the newest members of the Commonwealth, Aaron and Gabriel, to accompany him to the religious group's apartment complex headquarters under the pretext of inviting them to join the Compound. The three meet with the leader, Ian, with Carlson turning on the charm. Unmoved, Ian threatens to kill all of them, accusing them of trying to take over his community. While Aaron and Gabriel try to reason with Ian, Carlson drops his friendly pretense and demands to know where the stolen supplies are, punching Ian when he says he doesn't know. Carlson then takes Ian's gun and executes him. Carlson explains to his stunned companions that Ian was right: the offer of partnership was a ruse designed to allow him to take the community over by force.

Carlson addresses the community, proclaiming them enemies of Commonwealth for stealing from them. He then interrogates two hostages on the roof of the complex about the whereabouts of the stolen supplies, kicking them off the roof to their deaths when they plead ignorance. When Aaron and Gabriel protest, Carlson rationalizes the cold-blooded murders he has just committed as necessary to maintain order and peace.

"The Rotten Core"

Carlson leads a cadre of Commonwealth soldiers in ransacking the complex, killing anyone who gets in their way. He then holds Gabriel and Aaron at gunpoint, but they manage to overpower him with help from Maggie Greene, Lydia, Negan, and Negan's wife Annie. Carlson tries to talk his way out of danger, but Aaron shoots him and sends him falling to the ground, where the newly zombiefied dead devour him.

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