Character Study: The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) in The Walking Dead, Episode 4.12 (“Still”). Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC.

Note from the Editors: This article is the first of a new series of in-depth character analyses. We hope to have these articles on a bi-monthly basis, so keep checking back for insights on your favorite characters!

By Mlgagne

Since The Walking Dead’s premiere in 2010, it has become one of the most popular shows on television. Aside from its draw for fans of zombie lore, one of the reasons for the show’s popularity is undoubtedly its characters. The characters are both realistic and sympathetic; fans are easily engaged by the actors’ portrayals, immersing themselves in the well-written psychology and relationships between characters that have developed over the course of the series. In fact, many fans who have watched from the beginning will note that these characters have become like an extended family; when they laugh, we laugh, and when they cry, we cry. It is a very emotional experience that has been developed and maintained over time, and I believe this is a part of what makes The Walking Dead’s fan base so intensely loyal.

One character in The Walking Dead who has always come to the forefront of my mind as a prime example of this type of characterization is Daryl Dixon. Written solely for the series’ adaptation to television, Daryl is one of the few characters presented to the viewer who is not prominently featured in the comics, meaning that his character development is entirely played out for fans on screen with nothing against which to compare. As the show has become an animal of its own, it can be argued that Daryl has become the heart and soul of the series. Portrayed with subtlety by Norman Reedus, Daryl is undoubtedly one of the most psychologically complex characters on The Walking Dead – and it is exactly those complexities that have helped drive the interplay between plot and characters forward over the course of the past seven seasons. To examine Daryl’s overall effect on the group of survivors led by Rick Grimes – and to propose why he will be an integral part of the plot going forward – we can look at three overall factors: his outward traits and skills, his inner psychology, and his relationships with the characters so far.

Part I: Traits and Skills

Before closely examining Daryl’s relationships with (and his effect on) different members of the group, it is important to understand his key characteristics and skills. When Daryl is first introduced to viewers in season one, he is presented as an extremely impulsive and quick-tempered individual. In fact, this is evidenced as far back as his very first scene on the show, where he displays a very hostile reaction towards Rick and the group when he finds out that his brother Merle was left handcuffed to a roof during a supply run in Atlanta. His anger towards Rick and desire to attack without being willing to listen to the reasoning behind the abandonment of Merle would indicate the prevalence of these traits. Even after he and the group return to Atlanta to try and retrieve Merle (to no avail), he continues to be quite hostile and untrusting toward those around him. In the season finale, he does end up traveling with the group to the CDC in a search for answers, but it feels to the viewer as if he is doing this more because he has nowhere else to go than out of a great love for those around him.

In season two, Daryl’s character starts to become more fleshed out. When Carol’s daughter Sophia goes missing, Daryl instantly steps up to assist Rick in finding her. He proves himself to be an expert in tracking and hunting as he looks for any signs of a trail she may have left. These skills lead to Rick to make the decision of putting Daryl in charge of the search, finally giving him a sense of purpose within the group.

Daryl searches for Sophia in Episode 2.04 (“Cherokee Rose”). Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC.

The search for Sophia brings out a huge character trait in Daryl that has carried with him throughout the series: his ability to be incredibly selfless. While he could have given up the search for Sophia at any time, he stops at nothing to find her. Even when he is severely injured during the search, he forces himself to return to the group using his survivalist skills (and expresses the strong desire to continue looking afterwards) just because he found Sophia’s doll. He also becomes a sort of beacon of hope for Carol during this time, providing her with comfort where he can. After the events of season one, it would seem that he had no reason to do this; however, the fact that he does displays how selfless and good-hearted he is underneath his gruff exterior (it can also be argued that he was the most comfortable bonding with Carol before the rest of the group – but more on that later).

Daryl and Rick in Episode 6.10 (“The Next World”). Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC.

When Shane and a few other members of the group begin to express their desire to move on from the search for Sophia, Daryl expresses another extremely important trait: his loyalty. Daryl sides with Rick in continuing the search, up until the shocking moment when it is revealed that Sophia had already died and was one of the walkers being holed up in Hershel’s barn. But even though Daryl has a hard time dealing with Sophia’s death, he soon returns to Rick’s aid. He helps Rick in making a decision when the group is trying to figure out what to do with an outsider, and he steps up when Rick is not able to kill Dale after a fatal walker attack. After Shane’s death, this loyalty to Rick (and the group) becomes extremely important to the development of the plot. This is the point where Daryl begins to take over the role of Rick’s right hand man, becoming one of his closest advisors and friends – or, as Rick calls him in episode 4.16 (“A”), his “brother.”

Daryl’s loyalty to the group, his selflessness, and his survivalist mentality have continued to be important to his role at the center of the group’s core. However, it is worth noting that while his treatment of Rick and the group has evolved over time, there are ways in which Daryl is still the impulsive and quick-tempered person we met in season one. His reaction to Beth’s death in season five, where he shoots Dawn instantly and without a second thought, is a good example of this. Another good example is after Denise’s death in season six, where he becomes so distraught that he attempts to track down Dwight and kill him, even after Glenn and Michonne try to reason with him.

Most recently, in the season seven premiere, Daryl punches Negan in the face when Negan is taunting Rosita with Lucille after beating Abraham to death. Unfortunately, Daryl’s outburst directly leads to the death of Glenn, which has become a controversial plot point amongst many viewers. And while I personally believe that Negan would have found an excuse to kill Glenn anyway (Glenn and Abraham both displayed threats to his rule early on in the line-up), Daryl’s proven selflessness and loyalty to the group should tell viewers that he would never intentionally do something to get one of his loved ones killed. Daryl had no reason to believe that Negan wouldn’t kill him (Daryl) at the time, and the impulsivity of the moment was a very characteristic move. However, Daryl’s actions in the season premiere seem to have had a severe effect on his overall psychology, which we will touch upon next.

Part II: Psychological Analysis

While Daryl’s outward characteristics are important to look at when dissecting his role on The Walking Dead, it is perhaps even more crucial to understand his inner psychology, which can help us to acquire a better overall understanding of Daryl’s behaviors and relationships. One aspect of this that often comes to light is Daryl’s introversion. He generally has a quiet demeanor, and he seems to be able to reflect on and adjust to situations best when he is alone. This is evident through the way he deals with death, since he often goes off on his own to internalize and accept it (as seen in his reactions to the deaths of Merle, Beth, and Glenn). Moreover, he seems to have a general discomfort around people he doesn’t know well. Aside from his original hesitation towards Rick and the group, a more recent example of this is when the group arrives in Alexandria. Daryl is clearly uncomfortable and withdrawn; in fact, when he is out recruiting with Aaron in episode 5.16 (“Conquer”) and they are cornered by a herd of walkers, he laughs, revealing to Aaron that he’s more comfortable in that situation than he is back in Alexandria. This helps to explain the difficulties that Daryl has faced in becoming close to others over the course of the series, as it allows the viewer to understand that it takes him time to become comfortable with someone.

However, there are more nuanced aspects of Daryl’s psychology that are possibly even more important, but are not always obvious to the viewer. At the core of this is the abuse he suffered from his father during childhood. In episode 5.06 (“Consumed”), Carol discovers that he takes a book on surviving childhood abuse as an adult from the abandoned women’s shelter they stayed in whilst looking for Beth in Atlanta. This proves to viewers that it is something Daryl consistently struggles with, which should be no surprise after we’ve seen the scars from the physical beatings his father gave him in a scene with Merle back in episode 3.10 (“Home”). However, it is clear that this abuse was not only physical; we also see the deep level of psychological trauma that he carries with him as a result of his upbringing when he goes off on Beth in episode 4.12 (“Still”), which we will examine a bit more below.

Daryl hallucinates seeing Merle in Episode 2.05 (“Chupacabra”). Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC.

Another aspect of this abuse is the toxic relationship that it caused between Daryl and Merle. In episode 3.10 (“Home”), it is revealed that Merle, who was also abused by their father at a young age, took off to join the military as soon as he was able, leaving Daryl behind to become his father’s subject of torment (it can be assumed that their mother was out of the picture at this point; Daryl confirms earlier on in season three that she was an alcoholic who died in a house fire set by her own cigarette when he was still fairly young). Though Merle didn’t know this had happened, his leaving caused Daryl to resent him in many ways. However, having come from the same environment, the two were also extremely close, developing a mentality to fend for themselves since they didn’t have a parental figure to guide them (which is probably also part of the reason why Daryl was so determined to find Sophia; in season two, he mentions that he was lost in the woods as a child and found his way home, though nobody came to look for him). Merle seems to have been the one who implanted in Daryl’s brain the idea that it was the two of them against the world; for example, in episode 2.05 (“Chupacabra”), Daryl hallucinates seeing Merle after he is hurt during his search for Sophia. Even as a hallucination, the effect Merle has had on Daryl is clear, for he tells Daryl that Rick and the group will abandon him someday, and that he (Merle) is the only person in the world who will ever care about Daryl. And, from Daryl’s untrusting behavior towards the group early on in the series, it is evident that he actually believed this for a very long time.

Likely as an effect of all of this, Daryl often presents signs of feeling worthless and depressed. This can be seen early on in the series, right after it is revealed that Sophia was dead the whole time he was searching for her. He goes off on Carol when she attempts to reach out to him in episode 2.09 (“Triggerfinger”), saying, “You’re afraid because you’re all alone. You’ve got no husband; no daughter. You don’t know what to do with yourself.” It’s clear that in this moment, he’s projecting these feelings about himself onto Carol; aside from the fact that he is grieving, he also feels that now that he isn’t searching for Sophia, the group no longer has use for him.

Daryl and Beth in Episode 4.12 (“Still”). Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC.

A more obvious example of these feelings of worthlessness is his confession to Beth in episode 4.12 (“Still”). After being separated from the group following the Governor’s attack on the prison (and Hershel’s death), Daryl and Beth seek refuge in a house that greatly reminds him of the home in which he grew up. This, combined with Hershel’s death, triggers a lot of inner torment and guilt, and Daryl lashes out at Beth after the two have been drinking. Once things have calmed down between them, he reveals to her that prior to the apocalypse, he was just sort of drifting through life with Merle. He says to her, “I was nobody; I was nothing.” Somewhat similarly, when Beth comments that he transitioned to post-apocalyptic life well, Daryl claims that he was just used to things being rough with the childhood he had. “But you got away from it,” Beth tells him. “I didn’t,” he responds, making it clear to the viewer that the depression Daryl feels will always run deep.

At constant interplay with Daryl’s feelings of worthlessness and depression is a degree of self-loathing. He often displays signs that he doesn’t believe that he is someone who is deserving – or worthy – of any type of acceptance or affection from the group. This is evident in episode 2.05 (“Chupacabra”) when, in stark contrast to what the hallucination of Merle said, Carol comes to thank him for his dedication to the search for Sophia. Daryl flinches when she kisses his forehead and is quick to put himself down, claiming that Rick and Shane would’ve done the same; Carol tells him, “I know. You’re every bit as good as them.” Prior to this moment, Daryl had likely never received such praise from anyone before, and I believe that hearing this helped him to start to open up more. Over time, Daryl has become one of the most appreciated and valued members of the group, which is clearly the exact opposite of what he ever believed could happen and is something that he is still getting used to (a good example of this can be seen in the season four premiere, where he is uncomfortable with all of the praise he is receiving for providing the prison’s residents with food; Carol even tells him, “You’re going to have to learn to live with the love.”).

Daryl and Carol search for Beth in Episode 5.06 (“Consumed”). Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC.

At this point, I think it is worth noting that this is part of the reason why I believe Daryl is the only major character who has never really had a romantic relationship on the show. It could be argued that he is a virgin, or that perhaps he also suffered sexual abuse as a child; some fans have even suggested that perhaps he struggles because he is gay, which would have been met with serious disapproval from his family when he was growing up (though Robert Kirkman confirmed that Daryl is straight on Talking Dead a few years back). Whatever the case may be, I personally believe that one of the main reasons for the lack of any sexual relationships in Daryl’s life is the fact that he really doesn’t believe that he is worthy of romantic love, instead shutting himself off from it. The evidence presented by his psychology, as well as the fact that his potential love interests have never really amounted to anything beyond deep friendship in the past (both Carol and Beth come to mind), seem to prove this.

In any case, the general closeness Daryl has developed with the group over the course of the series hasn’t stopped him from being his own worst enemy in some respects. For example, he consistently puts all of the blame on himself when someone close to him has died, which was evident with Hershel, Beth, Denise, and, most recently, Glenn. It should be noted that in the case of Glenn, Daryl was taken captive by Negan and the Saviors, and after having had plenty of time to reflect on his actions, he no longer seems to blame himself. In fact, Norman Reedus claims that viewers will see a shift in Daryl’s behavior in the second half of season seven, transitioning from self-blame for Glenn’s death to a desire to kill all of the Saviors. And going forward, it will be interesting to see if this type of coping mechanism begins to take the place of Daryl’s self-blame in other scenarios, possibly opening the door to expand his character even further.

Part III: Interplay Between Character and Relationships

Finally, to examine Daryl’s role within the group and to propose why he will be integral to the story going forward, we can combine the analysis of his traits and psychology to look at his relationships with the other characters. Since The Walking Dead has spanned seven seasons so far and has a vast number of characters, we will only look at some of the most important relationships that Daryl has with characters who are still living at the point of the back half of season seven – and, of course, how these bonds might affect the story going forward.

Carol

Daryl and Carol in Episode 4.01 (“30 Days Without an Accident”). Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC.

Arguably the most important relationship that Daryl currently has on the show is the one he has formed with Carol. As a fellow survivor of physical and mental abuse, Carol is a lot like Daryl in many ways. They have both been able to “shine” the most after their respective oppressors were no longer in the picture (in Daryl’s case, his father and Merle; in Carol’s case, her husband Ed), and both have become stronger people over the course of the series.

However, the most important thing about Daryl and Carol is that they seem to completely understand each other on a fundamental level. They relate to one another because of similar experiences prior to the apocalypse, and since those experiences were so traumatic, the bond they have is very deep. Often, they don’t even need to speak to understand how the other is feeling; case-in-point: Daryl burns the body of a child-turned-walker in episode 5.06 (“Consumed”) without Carol having to ask him, as he knows that it has reminded her of Sophia.

Another thing that I find to be beautiful about their relationship is the comfort that they seem to have around one another. Carol is the first person that Daryl really begins to warm up to out of the group of survivors who leave Atlanta together – in part because he took on the task of tracking down Sophia. However, it has become very clear over time that Daryl sees a kindred spirit in Carol, which indicates that he also felt the most comfortable opening up to Carol before the others. This can be evidenced as far back as episode 1.05 (“Wildfire”), when Carol savagely takes a pickaxe to Ed’s head before he can turn into a walker after his death in the attack on their camp. Though we don’t really know much about Daryl’s backstory at the time, the reaction on his face upon re-watching the series indicates that while he is taken aback by her actions (Carol was generally very quiet and timid up until this point), he also understands how she feels.

Daryl and Carol in Episode 5.01 (“No Sanctuary”). Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC.

The comfort level between Daryl and Carol has only strengthened over time. They often turn to each other for solace during times of need; a good recent example is when Carol confides in Daryl after her traumatizing experience being taken prisoner with Maggie by the Saviors in episode 6.13 (“The Same Boat”). Moreover, they have a positive influence on each other, as each encourages the other to be his or her absolute best self. This is evident in episode 2.09 (“Triggerfinger”), when Carol encourages Daryl not to pull away from the group, and in episode 5.06 (“Consumed”), when Daryl does the same for her. They serve as each other’s rock – a person to fall back on and confide in when things get exceptionally difficult or out of control – and, to me, that is a huge part of the beauty of their relationship.

As of the midway point of season seven, Carol is still living in a house on the outskirts of the Kingdom, having isolated herself from the group at the end of season six due to the psychological breakdown she suffered over having to kill so many people for the sake of her loved ones. Meanwhile, Daryl has just escaped from his imprisonment at the Sanctuary and has been reunited with Rick and the remaining members of the group at Hilltop, eager for revenge on Negan, Dwight, and the rest of the Saviors. The two have not seen each other in quite some time; in fact, Carol doesn’t even know about the deaths of Glenn and Abraham. However, from the midseason promos, it is clear that Rick and the group will meet with the Kingdom’s King Ezekiel to discuss banding together in rising up against the Saviors – with Daryl present in this interaction. This suggests to me that he and Carol will likely be reuniting very soon (after all, Morgan is currently living at the Kingdom, and he knows where Carol currently resides), which leads to some interesting ideas about how their relationship will propel the story going forward. Will Daryl bring the news of Glenn’s and Abe’s deaths to her, thus reigniting her spirit to fight? Can she stand to hold back after she’s seen what Daryl has suffered at the hands of the Saviors? My money is on “no” for the latter, and I think that their potential reunion could have an effect that results in Carol being one of the main forces in taking Negan down.

Finally, if Daryl ever ends up having a romantic relationship on The Walking Dead (which he very well may not), I think the only true contender for a partner is Carol. After all, they clearly share a deep affection for one another, and I don’t believe that either of them has another bond on the show that is quite at the same level; in this way, I see their relationship as being very similar to that of Rick and Michonne, or Glenn and Maggie. This isn’t something that I believe could potentially happen soon, as they are both currently dealing with severe psychological trauma; plus, Carol seems to be taking to Ezekiel rather quickly, whose positive outlook on life could be good for her in the long run. However, down the line, I think that a romantic relationship between Daryl and Carol may end up being the natural course of events.

Rick

Daryl and Rick reunite in Episode 7.08 (“Hearts Still Beating”). Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC.

If Daryl’s most important relationship is the one he has with Carol, I think a very close second is the one he has with Rick. In the beginning of the series, Daryl and Rick didn’t quite see eye to eye; in fact, when they first meet, Daryl seems to despise Rick, who has just returned from Atlanta having left Merle handcuffed to a rooftop. However, over the course of seasons one and two, Daryl begins to see Rick’s honor, and vice versa. Daryl proves his worth during the search for Sophia and, with Carol’s encouragement, he begins helping Rick out with more and more tasks – to the point where he becomes Rick’s most loyal and trusted friend following Shane’s death. For example, when Rick completely breaks down following Lori’s death in giving birth to Judith in episode 3.05 (“Say the Word”), it is Daryl who immediately jumps into action to get formula for the newborn baby, instantly feeling an emotional connection to her (he also nicknames her “Lil Asskicker” and is even the first one to feed her). This proves the depth of the relationship between Daryl and Rick, which is definitely a beacon of light in the darkness of the apocalypse.

One thing that I think is interesting to note about the relationship between Daryl and Rick is the fact that they serve as the “brother” that each of them never had. In a lot of ways, Rick is like the antithesis of Merle for Daryl; whereas Merle was constantly putting Daryl down, Rick is loving and supportive of Daryl in the way that a brother should be. He sees Daryl’s worth not only as a hunter and fighter, but also as a human being. In a similar way, Daryl is like the antithesis of Shane for Rick; after all, Shane was Rick’s pre-apocalypse “brother” (though not biological). Whereas Shane’s loyalty to Rick failed the minute he fell in love with Lori, Daryl’s loyalty is unfaltering; it is at the core of his character. In other words, the familial/brotherly bond the two have serves as a kind of “replacement” for each of their previous relationships, only purer and stronger. This has been extremely evident throughout the first half of season seven, since the two were very pained at being pried apart by Negan’s hands; Rick begging Negan to let Daryl stay in Alexandria in episode 7.04 (“Service”) is proof of this. And the hug they share after Daryl has broken free from the Sanctuary in episode 7.08 (“Hearts Still Beating”) has possibly been the most beautiful moment of this season so far; their closeness and ability to consistently remain on one another’s team is heart-warming, giving the audience hope.

I believe that Daryl’s and Rick’s relationship will have a profound effect on the remainder of season seven – in fact, I think that this was proven when Daryl returned Rick’s stolen gun to him in the midseason finale, a symbolic move of Rick getting back into the groove of things to “rise up” against the Saviors. Moreover, Negan’s capture of Daryl had a heart-wrenching effect on Rick, and the deep effect of the abuse that Daryl has suffered at Negan’s hands will undoubtedly come to light very soon (being forced to listen to a nonstop loop of “Easy Street,” eat nothing but sandwiches made of dog food, and suffer other physical and mental abuse while imprisoned in the Sanctuary have all left Daryl with some very deep internal scars). I think that this will only strengthen Rick’s resolve to take Negan down once and for all – and, of course, I am positive that this will give Daryl a key role as part of the manpower in the battle to come.

Dwight and Sherry

Dwight holds Daryl at gunpoint in Episode 6.06 (“Always Accountable”). Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC.

A more recent relationship that Daryl has developed that I believe will be very important to the remainder of season seven is that which he holds with Dwight and Sherry. Though the three are not connected in a positive way by any means, Daryl’s influence on the other two seems to be something that will be crucial to the plot going forward.

Daryl first meets Dwight and Sherry when he is separated from Sasha and Abraham while leading the walkers away from the quarry in episode 6.06 (“Always Accountable”). At first, Dwight takes Daryl captive, believing he is a Savior who is trying to bring them back to the Sanctuary (of course, the viewer doesn’t learn much about this until season seven); however, after realizing that this is not the case, he and Daryl seem to form an understanding, and Daryl attempts to recruit Dwight and Sherry to come back with him and live in Alexandria. Due to the overwhelming influence Negan has over them, Dwight and Sherry end up abandoning Daryl and stealing his crossbow and motorcycle, which sets off a chain of events. Dwight ends up killing Denise with Daryl’s crossbow in episode 6.14 (“Twice as Far”), which leads to Daryl seeking revenge on him in episode 6.15 (“East”). Glenn, Rosita, and Michonne go after Daryl to try and stop him, which directly leads to all four of them being present for Negan’s line-up in the season six finale. It can be argued that all of them would still be in the line-up if they were back in Alexandria, since they likely would have traveled with Rick and the rest of the group upon discovering Maggie’s illness; however, at the same time, it is quite possible that if he hadn’t attempted to seek revenge, Daryl would have been out looking for Carol with Morgan instead of with the group who was captured on the way to Hilltop, and Glenn may have survived (I say “may have” because, as mentioned previously, I do believe that Negan would have likely killed Glenn anyway).

All of this proves that there is some bad blood between Dwight/Sherry and Daryl, and upon seeing Daryl’s imprisonment at the Sanctuary, it is becoming clear that both Dwight and Sherry are feeling the effects of their guilt in the situation. It is interesting that this guilt has manifested itself in different ways for the two of them; whereas Sherry is outwardly apologetic towards Daryl in episode 7.03 (“The Cell”), telling him that she is sorry for everything that has happened and attempting to give him advice for survival amongst the Saviors, Dwight seems to want to be Daryl. After all, Dwight took Daryl’s crossbow, motorcycle, and vest, and is currently using all three as if they were his own. It feels as if Dwight is trying to take on Daryl’s identity because he simultaneously resents and admires Daryl, and it seems likely that his overwhelming guilt for abandoning Daryl at gunpoint to return to the Saviors is at the core of this behavior.

In the second half of season seven, I think it will be immensely interesting to see how the show deals with all of this. Will Daryl attempt to kill Dwight and Sherry in the upcoming war against the Saviors? It’s quite possible, but I think that it’s even more likely that Dwight and Sherry may have a hand in rising up against Negan from the inside (case-in-point: even though it looks as if Jesus was the one to help free Daryl on the surface, this was never explicitly stated; I think it’s still quite possible that either Sherry or Dwight was responsible for this, as previously mentioned in my recap of episode 7.07). An inside betrayal against Negan could be integral to taking him down, and Daryl being at the center of it would exert his influence over the plot in a huge way. In other words, due to their relationship with Daryl, Dwight and Sherry could both end up being dark horses within the uprising, but whether or not Daryl can ever accept them as allies remains to be seen.

Maggie

One final character that I’d like to briefly mention in relation to Daryl’s effect on the future of the story is Maggie. Though Maggie and Daryl haven’t really had a profound relationship in the past, I think that it is worth noting that viewers should keep an eye on the two of them going forward because of Glenn. As previously mentioned, Glenn’s death hit Daryl very hard, as he viewed it as a direct consequence of his actions; we saw the psychological effects of this in episode 7.03 (“The Cell”). And even though Daryl has seemed to shift to a revenge-based focus, it will be interesting to see the effects of this play out between him and Maggie. As Glenn’s widow (who is also currently carrying his child), Maggie lost the most when he died – so now that Daryl has been reunited with the group at Hilltop (where Maggie has become the de facto leader), they will undoubtedly interact at some point. On the Talking Dead midseason finale, Norman Reedus expressed his concern that Maggie will blame Daryl for Glenn’s death, which could very well be the case. However, it is also quite possible that instead of issuing any blame, Maggie and Daryl could derive some sort of strength from one another. Either way, the interplay between the two has the potential to have a huge effect on the group, and that is something I believe could be worth watching for even beyond season seven.

Conclusion

Daryl in Episode 6.09 (“No Way Out”). Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC.

Over the years that The Walking Dead has been on television, Daryl has become extremely beloved by fans – and after a thorough analysis of his character, it is clear why. It is much more than the fact that he’s a crossbow-wielding, motorcycle-riding, zombie-killing badass; rather, people love him for his realism. His subtly played out psychology is something with which viewers from all walks of life can sympathize, and his unfaltering loyalty and selflessness strike a chord in our hearts. And though Daryl is certainly not perfect, it is his imperfections that make his character so realistically beautiful. Even more than that, the way in which all of this plays into his relationships with the other characters on screen is fascinating. It is like looking at a portrait of how humans would relate to one another if the world as we know it actually ended, something that I believe is rare in modern forms of art.

As we enter the second half of season seven, it will be extremely interesting to see how the thread of Daryl’s influence on these characters weaves the plot into place. From everything we have seen from season one until now, I think that it is crystal clear that he inspires so many of them in different ways – from Carol to Rick to Dwight/Sherry and beyond. His humanity and resilience have consistently served as driving points for the other characters, and it seems that the back half of season seven will be no different. As Beth said to Daryl in episode 4.12 (“Still”), “You’re gonna be the last man standing.” But with Daryl’s ability to influence and inspire those around him, it looks to me as if season seven will go out with the rest of the group still standing right beside him.

Our regular episode recaps on The Walking Dead will resume shortly after the midseason premiere on Sunday, February 12. In the meantime, we hope that you will join The Walking Dead conversation on FoCC!

Mlgagne

Melanie (Mlgagne) is a lover of pop culture and the entertainment industry. She is a passionate fan of various TV shows and films, including (but certainly not limited to) GAME OF THRONES, THE WALKING DEAD, PREACHER, OUTLANDER, and X-MEN. She is a regular attendee of San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) and New York Comic Con (NYCC), and she plans to add both WonderCon and Walker Stalker Con: Atlanta to her repertoire in 2017. When she is not watching/discussing her favorite fandoms or planning for her next con, she can likely be found sharing cute animal photos on various social media outlets. You can follow her on both Twitter and Instagram @mlgagne.