|The Walking Dead character|
|First appearance||"Tell It to the Frogs"|
|Created by||Frank Darabont
Charles H. Eglee
|Portrayed by||Norman Reedus|
|Family||Father: Will Dixon (Survival Instinct)
Brother: Merle Dixon
Daryl Dixon is a fictional character from the horror drama television series The Walking Dead, which airs on AMC in the United States and is based on the comic book series of the same name. He was created by writers Frank Darabont, Charles H. Eglee and Jack LoGiudice and portrayed by Norman Reedus. The character was introduced in the first season as a Southern expert tracker who constantly lives in the shadow of his brother, Merle. Despite his ill temper and volatility, he is tolerated by the core group of survivors due to his skills in hunting animals and fearless efficiency in killing zombies (dubbed "walkers" in the series).
After Merle's disappearance, Daryl begins to shed his aloof personality and starts to bond with the group. The character eventually becomes the cooperative right-hand man of protagonist Rick Grimes, and leads several supply runs. He is one of the longest surviving characters of the television series.
Daryl is one of the few characters that do not have a counterpart in the graphic novels. His origin is explored in the 2013 video game The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. The character was featured in a Super Bowl XLVII commercial for Time Warner Cable. Reedus was initially a member of the recurring cast, before he was upgraded to a series regular in the second season. For his performance as Daryl, Reedus won the People's Choice Award for Favorite TV Hero in 2014 and was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television in 2011.
Fictional character biography
In their childhood, Daryl and his older brother, Merle, lived with an abusive, alcoholic father, Will. He was raised by Merle, though Merle was often away (sometimes serving time in juvenile institutions). Daryl spent significant periods of time alone and, throughout these lonely periods, learned to fend for himself and adopted a hard-boiled survivalist mindset.
Daryl first appears furious when the scavenging survivors, along with Rick, return to the campsite without Merle. Daryl becomes upset with Rick for handcuffing Merle to a roof, and with T-Dog who admits to dropping the key. He, Rick, Glenn, and T-Dog soon head back into the city to rescue Merle, only to find his severed hand in the place where he had been left. Daryl grieves for his brother for a short time before managing to bottle up his emotions and continuing to put on his usual strong appearance. While he and the others search the streets for any sign of Merle, they run into a band of thugs, one of whom is captured by the group and threatened numerous times by Daryl. After realizing that the "thugs" are merely nursing home employees and intend no harm, they return to the camp. Shortly following their return, zombies invade the campsite and kill many of the survivors. The following morning, Daryl helps impale, carry and burn the dead (one of whom he allows Carol to impale because he was her abusive husband).
When the survivors find out that Jim has been bitten, Rick thwarts Daryl's attempts to kill Jim. Instead, Daryl is convinced to let Jim die peacefully in the woods. Daryl and the others briefly find respite at the CDC, enjoying the luxuries the facility has to offer, including hot water and couches to sleep on. He enjoys dinner and wine with everyone and learns about TS-19 and Dr. Jenner's work, as well as the fall of the CDC's infrastructure. He is enraged when Jenner attempts to lock them inside the building that is about to blow up and attempts to kill Jenner. The group is successfully able to escape due to Rick's grenade (which Carol had found in Rick's uniform while doing laundry and saved), which shatters the windows. Daryl drives off as the ruins burn.
In season 2, Daryl is shown to be calmer and more cooperative and has developed fledgling friendships with various group members. He also reveals a more compassionate side, defending fellow group members' lives from zombies on multiple occasions and assisting them in their times of need. It is he who searches the most for Carol's missing daughter, Sophia, and refuses to give up.
He slowly begins to form a bond with Carol, who was previously a victim of abuse like he was. She befriends him and encourages him to think better of himself. Following the revelation that Sophia reanimated as a zombie and was in the barn, he becomes emotionally detached from everyone and hesitates to go out looking for people anymore. Carol attempts to bring him back into the fold of the group, much to his frustration, and he attempts to avoid the group as much as possible, especially Carol. After a time, Daryl starts to warm to the group again; he participates in meetings and helps out Rick and Shane with their prisoner, Randall. Daryl shoots Dale out of mercy when he is fatally attacked by a walker, as Rick is hesitant to kill him, and rebuffs Carol's attempts to convince him that they should go it alone when Rick's leadership is in doubt. Daryl asks Carol what she really wants, and she declares she wants "a man of honor"; Daryl responds, "Rick's got honor."
While it is implied in season 1 that he may share his brother's racist beliefs, they are not apparent. This suggests that he may have overcome them after being forced to work with the group. However, the motorcycle that Daryl rides throughout much of season 2 bears an insignia used by the Schutzstaffel that is commonly featured in Nazi and white supremacist ideology, but is also a common motif in biker culture with no intended racist overtones, worn for shock value, as a rejection of conventional social values, and as part of the culture that started with biker gangs of the 1940s and 50s, which often consisted of World War II veterans who wore the German helmets and uniform accessories they had brought back from Europe. In season 2, Daryl states to Dale that the motorcycle was Merle's. In the final episode of season 2, he jokes that he could identify Glenn by his driving, due to Glenn being Asian (a joke which Glenn laughs off). Daryl usually has a serious demeanor, but occasionally makes wry comments and jokes to break the tension. By season 3, he has become a responsible, trusted and loyal member of the group. His priorities are tested when he learns that his brother is still alive and working for an opposing group.
After Lori and T-Dog are killed in season 3, episode 4, Rick goes crazy for a while. While he is off coming to terms with his wife's death, Daryl takes charge, and with Maggie's help, saves the newborn Judith. Later, when Rick thanks him, he merely says "It's what we do."
When he thinks that Carol is dead, he puts a single Cherokee Rose on her grave. This is the flower that he gave her to give her hope in finding her daughter Sophia.
During the group's attack on Woodbury, Daryl shoots (and kills) two Woodbury guards. Later Daryl is captured. After accusing Merle of treason, The Governor orders the brothers to fight to the death in the Woodbury arena, with its citizens surrounding them and screaming with blood lust. Daryl and Merle escape after intervention from Rick and Maggie. Eventually, the present group members disagree with letting Merle back in. When Merle antagonizes the group, Rick knocks him out as they further discuss his re-entry. It is decided that they will not welcome Merle back; in response, Daryl leaves with Merle. He saves a Mexican family from walkers with minimal help from Merle. Following the rescue, Merle attempts to loot the family's car but Daryl stops him. Daryl decides to go back to the prison; he and Merle get into an argument as Daryl walks away. Merle accidentally rips his shirt, revealing childhood scars on Daryl's back from their dad. Daryl hurriedly covers his back and walks off. Merle is hesitant to follow, as he knows he will never be accepted into the group, but he follows. They save Rick outside the prison when a herd of walkers are let loose by the Governor and his followers.
After Merle is killed by the Governor and becomes a walker, Daryl is forced to put him down. He takes the death with difficulty, crying and falling to the ground.
Daryl is one of the main characters of the show not to become infected in the early episodes of season 4. During the Governors second assault on the prison, Daryl helps fend off the attackers, even blowing up a tank. After the group is split, Daryl escapes the prison with Beth. Beth and Daryl then find a moonshine shed much like the place Daryl grew up, and stay for a bit. They get drunk and play a game of "Never Have I Ever", which leads to Daryl yelling at Beth and them getting into an argument about if anyone survived the prison attack or not. Later, they come across a funeral home filled with food. When Beth asks Daryl if he still believes that there are good people around, he skirts around answering the question. Beth then realizes that she was what changed his mind. Daryl hears a dog barking at the door and opens it to reveal a walker herd. Daryl fights off the herd, but Beth gets kidnapped in the chaos. Daryl runs all night after the car, but gives up when he comes to a fork in the road. He is then approached by a group of bandits led by Joe, and decides to join them when given the choice between joining their group or being killed.
For a time Daryl travels with Joe's group, learning its rules about who "claims" what and that they are tracking a man who recently killed one of their own. Joe's group eventually catches up to him, who turns out to be Rick, along with Michonne and Carl and captures them. Daryl pleads with Joe to spare them as they are "good people". Joe calls him a liar and has two men trying to beat him to death. However when Joe threatens Rick with the raping of Carl and Michonne before being killed, Rick surprises everyone by biting Joe's neck out, killing him. The distraction allows Daryl and Michonne to kill their captors while Rick repeatedly stabs Carl's captor to death. In the aftermath, Daryl relays what had happened to him and Beth after the prison assault, with Rick stating that the two are now brothers. The group makes their way to Terminus, a supposed safe haven. A stealthy infiltration into Terminus still results in the small group being captured, but Daryl and the rest are forced to run when Rick grabs one of the Terminus crew after spotting Glenn and Maggie's gear. The Terminus crew directs Daryl, Rick, Michonne and Carl to a train car, where they find Glenn and Maggie inside along with other survivors.
Daryl is shown to be an expert marksman, but his signature weapon is a Stryker Strykezone 380 crossbow, which Reedus says he takes home after filming. Also, he uses a Busse Team Gemini Knife, which is the only thing about him that never changes. In a few episodes, he can be seen using a Colt Official Police. Most notably in Beside the Dying Fire. In the first season he was shown using a shotgun"( Vatos). He also is shown using an Assault Rifle in a few episodes, more recently the season 4 mid-season finale Too Far Gone.
Development and reception
Daryl was originally a recurring character, but, due to his popularity, he was upgraded to the main cast in season 2. As of season 3, he receives 4th place in top billing and has reached 2nd place in top billing for season 4, having become one of the main protagonists of the series. Fan groups such as "Dixon's Vixens" follow the character and Norman Reedus in other roles.
Reedus originally asked the writers and crew if Daryl could get a dog. His request was denied, and instead got a new crossbow.
- "Save the Last One"
- "Tell It to the Frogs"
- Pratt, Alan R. (2006), "Motorcycling, Nihilism, and the Price of Cool; Nihilism and FTW Style", in Rollin, Bernard E., Harley-Davidson and philosophy: full-throttle Aristotle; Volume 18 of Popular culture and philosophy, Open Court Publishing, ISBN 9780812695953
- Lauren Berkley (February 18, 2013). "15 Things You Didn’t Know About "The Walking Dead" [Chart]". Geeks are Sexy.
- Dixon's Vixens fansite
- (SPOILERS) The Making of Episode 313 Arrow on the Doorpost: Inside The Walking Dead Youtube "AMC" (March 10, 2013)
- This Week's Cover: An exclusive sneak peek at season 3 of 'The Walking Dead'. Entertainment Weekly, 22 August 2012.
- Best of 2012 IGN (December 2012)