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- "Come see me whenever. I'm just over here in the medical trailer, okay?"
- —Dr. Carson to Glenn and Maggie[src]
Harlan Carson is a survivor of the outbreak in AMC's The Walking Dead. He was a resident and the appointed community physician of the Hilltop Colony until the Saviors took him to the Sanctuary. Harlan is a generally affable and benevolent man who wishes to aid his fellow comrades the best he can. He was taken as a prisoner by the Saviors and forced to serve as a physician at the Sanctuary.
Harlan was born in the late 1960's, he grew up in Virginia alongside his brother Emmett, where together the brothers enrolled into Medical school where throughout their studies they gained a distinct education regarding of medical methods and procedures. While Emmett became a pledged physician, Harlan developed a keen interest in pregnancy and thus he became employed as an obstetrician where throughout his career he helped to deliver babies for several couples.
At some point during the outbreak, Harlan presumably took residence in a FEMA camp where he was later evacuated to a safe-zone called the Hilltop Colony upon which he settled into and became well integrated with the fellow residents of the farming community. Due to his medical knowledge and experience, Harlan was appointed as the community's medical physician and thus became an essential member of the community where he aided his fellow residents in treating wounds and injuries as well helping to deliver babies.
Harlan was present at the time of the arrival of the Saviors, a notorious group of survivors who operated on behalf of a man named Negan. Upon meeting with Gregory, the leader of the community, they demanded half of the Hilltop's supplies in exchange for leaving the farming community unscathed. Though the Colony was initially reluctant to comply the Saviors demonstrated their motives through publicly executing a 16-year-old resident Rory.
Following this barbaric event, the Hilltop Colony entered into a period of dread and submission and thus were begrudgingly forced to comply under Negan's rule, due to their limited resources and manpower they were unable to rebel against their savage oppressors. Throughout the following months, Harlan alongside the other residents helped to gather supplies to help contribute towards the Saviors' demands in their desperate struggle to keep them satisfied and remain at bay.
Harlan became a resident of the Hilltop Colony at an undisclosed point before this episode. He traveled on a mission with fellow community members Freddie, Bertie, and Wesley to scavenge supplies, most importantly medical supplies. Their car crashed on the way due to walkers, and the four hid inside a nearby house from the dead. He is rescued by Glenn Rhee and Daryl Dixon of the Alexandria Safe-Zone after they arrive to rescue the group on behalf of Jesus, a prominent member of Hilltop. He joins the group in their RV where they continue their journey to Hilltop. He speaks to Maggie Greene, Glenn's wife, and thanks Glenn for saving him. After being asked for pre-natal vitamins he reveals his previous occupation and promises Maggie, who is pregnant, the drugs.
Upon reaching Hilltop he and Jesus diffuse a situation between Rick's group and the guards, vouching for the group and allowing them to keep their weapons upon their entrance. He later offers Glenn and Maggie medical assistance at his trailer whenever they need it. When Gregory is stabbed by Ethan returning from a meeting with the Saviors, Harlan rushes to his trailer and attends to Gregory.
He is later seen giving Maggie an ultrasound scanning. He gives her a printout of the baby.
Harlan is shown in his medical trailer at the Hilltop. He treats Maggie, who has arrived from Alexandria after a horrific night on the road, and informs her that she suffered from Abruptio Placentae, a separation of the placenta from the uterus, but that the baby is fine. Dr. Carson advises her to rest and remain at the Hilltop for the duration of her pregnancy.
Harlan first appears giving Maggie an ultrasound scanning with Enid by her side. Later, Simon arrives in his medical trailer and tells Harlan that they need his services at the Sanctuary. Dr. Carson correctly guesses that his brother, Emmett Carson was killed. In exchange for taking Dr. Carson, Simon gives Gregory a crate of aspirin. Although reluctant, Gregory allows Simon to take Harlan to the Sanctuary.
The Hilltop residents gather at the gates and watch the Saviors leave with Harlan. Gregory, sensing their disappointment, shifts around uncomfortably. Later, Negan emerges with Lucille outside the Sanctuary and greets Harlan.
Harlan is caring for a sick Gabriel in the infirmary at the Sanctuary. He asks Eugene to watch over Gabriel as he heads down to the marketplace in search of medicine and herbs to treat Gabriel's infection.
Unable to sleep, Eugene awakens Harlan and Gabriel and reveals that he will allow them to escape. Eugene has neutralized the guard at the North Gate (via diarrhea inducing poison administered in drink) and prepared a vehicle so that Harlan and Gabriel can make it to the Hilltop and Harlan can take care of Maggie. Though Gabriel offers Eugene the chance to join them, he refuses.
Harlan and Father Gabriel sit in a green luxury car they stole from a Savior in order to escape the Sanctuary. With the car broken down and the pair not sure where they are, the men are at a standstill. However, Gabriel hears a noise in the distance, prompting the men to find its source. They find a secluded cabin in the woods and find it empty, except for a zombified radio operator, who once relayed distress calls on the radio in order to find other survivors before eventually committing suicide alone. As Garbriel's eyesight worsens due to an infection, Harlan eventually discovers antibiotics in the home and administers them to Gabriel. The pair discover a set of car keys and Harlan heads outside to search for the vehicle, unknowingly walking into a set of traps. His foot gets caught in a bear trap as nearby zombies begin to close in on him. While Gabriel is able to save Harlan, both men are now injured in some capacity. They find the vehicle in the garage but are ambushed by Derek, Mel, and other Saviors. While in captivity in the back of a pick-up truck, Harlan attempts to subdue a Savior but is instead shot and killed by another. A mourning Gabriel watches Derek dump Harlan's body out of the truck before driving it away.
- Killed By
- Unnamed Savior
- Eugene Porter (Indirectly Caused)
- Negan (Indirectly Caused)
- Gabriel Stokes (Indirectly Caused)
- Himself (Caused)
As Harlan tries to grab a gun from a Savior to attack them with, another Savior fatally shoots him in the chest and is left to turn.
This list shows the victims Harlan has killed:
- Himself (Caused)
- Numerous counts of zombies
- R. Keith Harris, who portrayed Dr. Carson, was featured as a Guest Star for the first time in "Dead or Alive Or", whereas for all previous credited appearances, he was listed as a Co-Star.
- Harlan is one of the two people to have delivered a baby in the TV series, the other being Maggie Rhee.
- Eugene refers to Harlan as "Doctor Carson 2.0" in "The Big Scary U".
- As his brain wasn't destroyed, he more then likely reanimated into a walker afterwards
- As of Harlan's death, there are no known surviving members of the Carson family.
- Both Harlan and Emmett died in episode 11 of Seasons 8 and 7, respectively.