Sorry but I will disagree about Carol. I see her now as a cool, calm and collective person who sees things in an entirely different light then she did, some time ago. Her little chat with that neighborhood boy showed me that. She used psychology instead of action even if it was to scare the living you know what out of him. I do NOT see her as anywhere near what the Governor was, who would kill his own men at a whim, behead Hershel just because. Carol is cold now, but she is very far from being psychotic. Daryl was, maybe still is, fascinated with her and I could easily see her as a very capable leader of this group, even of the entire city. That is if the men in high places even thought about killing Rick off.
As you said though, any cast member, who gets too big for their britches, finds better work some where else, or just wants a change of pace, cane easily be eliminated. The public outcry may be huge, but the show is bigger than that and will move on.