Warning! SPOILERS ahead for The Walking Dead season 9, episode 10!
The Walking Dead explains Carol's hair is long in season 9 as well as why it was originally short for all these years. Carol is one of only two remaining characters from season 1, and her short hair became synonymous with the formidable suburban mom. But following The Walking Dead season 9's time jump, Carol got a brand new look.
Carol's long hair isn't all that's new in season 9, either. Along with the time jump, The Walking Dead has introduced several new characters to replace those who they've recently lost. The Walking Dead series is also beginning to feature a brand new villain for the survivors to fight off - Alpha and the Whisperers. And on a more personal level, season 9 has begun including more relationships between characters, from Rosita and Gabriel to Alden and Enid to, of course, Carol and Ezekiel.
The sparks first began between Ezekiel and Carol when she left Alexandria and took up residence just outside the Kingdom's walls. The war with the Saviors brought them closer together, and come The Walking Dead season 9 premiere, the two were officially an item. Together, they've become the new parents to Henry, and it's he who reveals the reasoning behind Carol's change of hairstyle. In a conversation with Daryl in The Walking Dead season 9 episode 10, "Omega" - which comes after they learn about the abuse Lydia has endured from her mother, Alpha - Henry explains that Carol originally cut her hair so short to prevent her abusive husband from grabbing hold of it whenever she would try to get away.
The explanation for Carol's short hair makes perfect sense, and it suits her prudent and tactical nature. It also serves as a reminder that Carol - like Daryl and now Lydia - is a victim of abuse, and having endured such vile behavior has shaped her. Watching how she's overcome her painful past is why Carol is such a compelling character, and she's become one of the toughest, most capable, and respected of all of Walking Dead's survivors.
But even more than being reminder of how far Carol's come, learning the reason why Carol used to keep her hair so short highlights the reason why her hair is now so long - her relationship with Ezekiel is a happy and healthy one, and Carol no longer needs to undertake the same precaution to keep herself safe. Additionally, Carol likely kept her hair so short well after her husband was killed because the same principle of making herself harder to grab worked just as well for the walkers. But living safely behind the Kingdom's walls, the need for short hair isn't nearly as important.
When Carol's long hair was first unveiled, her look inspired a slew of memes poking fun at her dramatically different hairstyle. Now, it's been revealed as a neat detail that helps to deepen Carol's character, giving her new look a significance that not only illustrates how much she's grown, but how much safer she feels with Ezekiel at the Kingdom.
The Walking Dead season 9 airs Sundays on AMC.