If there is one catch-phrase that most The Walking Dead fans find themselves saying, (or at least know of if they don’t want to say it) it would be ‘If Daryl dies we Riot’. Seriously though, every single time I walk into a Hot Topic, Uncanny or any store that has some sort of The Walking Dead merchandise, there are at least seven different shirts with the phrase and at least ten different coffee cups. I seriously can’t make this stuff up. It’s everywhere.
Aside from the amazing acting skills of Norman Reedus, what is it about Daryl that we all love so much? Is it because he is an outstanding cross-bow wielder? Is it that redneck twang? Could it possibly be because of how well he takes care of his ‘family’?
Daryl is, without a doubt, one of the most popular characters in the Dead universe. He was immediately promoted to a series regular after the first season, when he was originally predicted to be a recurring character. He is now a main state character in the television series, and one of the most recognizable with that. If you have been watching the hit AMC series from day one, than you know how evolved Daryl has become. Daryl Dixon is probably one of the most badass characters on television, but that is not all that makes him some valued amongst viewers. Daryl’s character has been written so well, that Daryl’s emotions really tug at our heartstrings. The more we learn about Daryl, the more fond of him we become. It’s just really plain and simple as that.
When we first meet Daryl in Season One, he seemed like your pretty run of the mill redneck. He had a crossbow, he was a skilled tracker, he was the one in the group of survivors who did much of the hard labor, and he loved his older brother Merle dearly. Don’t even get me started on that temper, which definitely made him stand out among the core group of survivors. When Rick disclosed to Daryl that he left Merle handcuffed to the roof back in Atlanta, you would think that these two were far from ever becoming friends.
In the second season, we started to see a much more calmer side to Daryl. He began to develop friendships with several of the group members, but he found himself bonding strongly with Carol in particular, who was also a previous victim of abuse. In the episode ‘Cherokee Rose’, Daryl gave Carol a flower and gave her an extremely heartfelt speech about not giving up hope in their search for Sophia.
In the mid-season finale, when Shane later broke open Hershel’s barn, Daryl helped kill the walkers as they file out. The last walker to come out of the barn was Sophia, striking the group with horror. Daryl restrained Carol, comforting her as Rick was forced to kill Sophia. During these stages of character development, I found myself growing extremely attached to Daryl. Underneath all that ‘tough guy’ mojo, there really is a heart. He may not be the happiest or most trusting individual, but above all Daryl is loyal and has an amazing sense of honor. When Carol attempted to convince Daryl that they should ‘go it alone’ when Rick’s leadership was in doubt, Daryl asked Carol what she really wanted. When she said she wanted “a man of honor”, Daryl responded: “Rick’s got honor.”
Since then, Daryl has become Rick’s right-hand man. He is one of the longest-surviving characters of the television series, and quite frankly, the character that holds the largest fan-base out of all the characters on the show. Daryl’s extreme dedication to protecting his friends and families is one of the few characteristics that makes him one of the most loveable characters on the show. Let me take this moment to remember the heart-breaking Season 3 episode ‘This Sorrowful Life’, when Daryl was forced to put down his re-animated brother, after he was killed by the Governor. When Daryl cries, we cry. Another significant event where my heart went out to Daryl was when he carried Beth’s body out of the hospital, after she was killed by Dawn. It seriously crushed me to see Daryl dedicate himself to finding Beth, after she was kidnapped in Season 4, only to have her wind up dying right in front of him.
Beth’s death left Daryl extremely broken distraught for quite awhile. Eventually, Carol told Daryl that he needed to embrace the pain so he can move on quicker, before kissing him on the forehead.
One of the most talked about moments involving Daryl this past season, was when he was shot by Dwight in the Season 6 episode ‘East’. Daryl was attempting to rescue Michonne and Glenn with Rosita, when Dwight snuck up behind Daryl and shot him. For memory purposes, check out the clip below:
Immediately, fans began reacting on Twitter to the shocking twist.
— 3/29/16❤ (@priya_patel64) March 28, 2016
DARYL DIED. I JUST CANT. WALKING DEAD IS FOREVER DONE. IM LITERALLY DYING.
— cheyizzlemynizzle ✨ (@cheyewizzle) March 28, 2016
Dear Walking Dead,
If Daryl is not alive in this next episode. Be prepared to hear my screaming.
An almost upset fan.
— Tamy Ramírez (@TammyRmz) March 28, 2016
— QueenVee (@Msvero_xo) March 28, 2016
Lucky for us, although… still slightly unfortunate for Daryl, he only suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder. A few days after the episode aired, Austin Amelio (Dwight) gave a statement in an interview with Tech Insider, as to why his character committed such a bold act:
“He doesn’t have an intention on killing him. [Dwight]’s been through a rough patch and I think he wants to show that he means business, and he knows that by shooting him he gets his point across. I could have gone for the head, I didn’t. I went for the right shoulder. He’s not going to die. He’ll be okay.”
A moment of relief for Daryl fans. However, we still aren’t going to forgive you for shooting him at all.
What I really love about Daryl, is that he won’t change who he is to gain anyone’s approval and doesn’t feel the need to prove himself to anyone. He never has, and I don’t think he ever will. Assuming that Daryl is NOT the one who was killed by Negan in the Season 6 finale, it will be interesting to see how that character trait plays out against Negan. I feel as though it is definitely going to be a battle.
Currently, Daryl’s last known whereabouts as of this past season have him and the group of survivors at the mercy of Negan. Whether he was ‘Lucielle’s’ victim or not is, at the moment, unclear.
Hopes for Daryl in Season 7.
Julia recently published her first novel, titled; Anomic. She is currently co-authoring a novel called ‘Snow Falls’. She has a B.A in Communications with concentrations in Professional Writing and Public Relations. She is also in the United States Army Reserves as a Military Police Officer, and is currently in the process of going back to school for her Masters Degree in Business. When she isn’t writing, she is co-owner of a film production studio called ‘Valentine Productions LLC’ and she frequently spends her weekends acting in films, or being a stuntwoman.