Daryl Dixon

Written by @EllieDangerous
It’s no understatement that ‘The Walking Dead’ has a diehard fetish for killing people off. One time they zombiefied a baby and we almost believed it. So which of these runny-abouty civilians are safe? The answer is Daryl Dixon, so they say. Played with roughhewn charisma by Norman Reedus, Daryl’s hunting skills have kept him alive — but so have the writers. Here are three reasons why.

Spoiler Alert
He’s a stony-eyed bastard with eyes of steel — and a crossbow. Long before you get hooked by a character's hidden depths in 'The Walking Dead', you get hit in the face with how strongly they react to adversity: and Daryl is an agile warrior of indomitable power. One time he blew up a tank. Just like his brother, if you fed him a hammer he'd crap out nails. This aggressive method of garnering popularity works well in 'The Waking Dead', like with katana-wielding stoic Michonne, or ingenuous multi-killer Carol. And maybe even Negan and Lucille... they're already pretty popular among the fans.

But back to those hidden depths. What’s better than a hardass with a crossbow? A hardass with two crossbows, yes. But also: a hardass with a heart.

His big brother Merle is a much fouler breed of survivor, but Daryl's tears for him when he dies gives both siblings a blaze of humanity. Sure Daryl "ain't nobody's bitch", but it becomes clear that nor is he here for his own survival. Early on he's adamant about finding poor little Sophia, and her initially vulnerable mother swiftly becomes Daryl's best bud. The bond between Carol and Daryl is bloody lovely, but it's also unspoken, like the fondness he had for Beth. When asked about his feelings for that sweet-natured thing, he literally doesn't have the words. It's a big heart he got there, but it doesn't have a mouthpiece.

This inability to express emotions is the third reason why he’s so popular: he’s relatable. Most of us can’t express our feelings clearly and articulately, if we even know what the crap we're feeling. Daryl is like this, and it’s why he’s the closest 'The Walking Dead' has to an everyman.

Still, if we reckon he's unkillable we should probably shut up about it, because one of the creators of 'The Walking Dead' is taking this claim as a dare. When hearing that Daryl's fans threatened to riot if the character gets killed off, Robert Kirkman said that the "fan reaction is going to get him killed. I feel like it’s a dare. Like, oh really? You’re gonna riot? We’ll see."

So to quote our favourite hunter: "Hey. Nobody's safe anymore."

I ain't who you think.
Ellie Ball is the founder of Good Characters, and someone who enjoys coffee cake a great deal. She is a graduate of the Scriptwriting MA at Goldsmiths, University of London. For fun and respite, check out her TV analysis articles on Bang2Write or tweet coffee cake at her @EllieDangerous.
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Published on 10 April 2016
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