|The Walking Dead character|
|First appearance||"Tell It to the Frogs" (2010)|
|Created by||Frank Darabont
Charles H. Eglee
|Portrayed by||Norman Reedus|
|Family||Will Dixon (father)
Merle Dixon (brother)
Daryl Dixon is a fictional character from AMC's horror drama series The Walking Dead. The character was created for the television series by writers Frank Darabont, Charles H. Eglee and Jack LoGiudice specifically for Norman Reedus, and does not have a counterpart in the comics, on which the series is based. The character was introduced in the first season as a southerner, expert tracker, living in the shadow of his older 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 walkers. This is particularly important in the early days of the apocalypse, when people with survival skills and the moxie to confront the undead are in short supply.
After Merle's disappearance, Daryl sheds his aloof personality and starts to bond with the group, particularly Carol Peletier after her daughter's disappearance, and Beth Greene after the two split off together in season 4. The character becomes the cooperative right-hand man and protector of protagonist Rick Grimes and leads several supply runs. He is one of the longest-surviving characters of the television series. His origin is explored in the 2013 video game The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, and he stars in the mobile game The Walking Dead: No Man's Land.
Daryl has been well received by fans and critics. Initially a member of the recurring cast, Reedus was upgraded to series regular after season one.
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 (serving time in juvenile institutions). Daryl had significant periods of time alone and, throughout these lonely periods, learned to fend for himself and adopted a hard-boiled survivalist mindset. When the outbreak occurs he and Merle fend for themselves and drift around, avoiding walkers. Unlike his brother, Daryl has never been to prison (as an inmate), and was offended when Beth revealed to him that she had believed he had during a drinking game in season 4.
It is implied in season 1 that he shares his brother's racist beliefs, but Daryl has not expressed overt racism, leaving the question ambiguous for the viewer. In much of season 2 Daryl rides his brother Merle's Triumph Bonneville chopper with the Nazi German ᛋᛋ (Schutzstaffel) insignia prominently displayed on the fuel tank. In the final episode of season 2, Daryl jokes that he could identify Glenn by his driving, due to Glenn being Korean. 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.
Daryl is first introduced in the Season 1 episode "Tell It to the Frogs". Having been a hunter to secure wildlife for nourishment of the survivor group outside of Atlanta, he is furious to learn they left Merle handcuffed to plumbing atop a skyscraper in the city, and puts most of his anger on Rick, the newcomer of the group. Daryl joins Rick and others to return to the city, finding that Merle may have escaped by cutting off his hand. Daryl becomes one of the group's key fighters, but falls in under Rick's orders as they abandon Atlanta, driving his brother's motorcycle.
In Season 2, the group settles onto Hershel Greene's farmstead as they look for Carol's missing daughter Sophia after a walker attack. Daryl aids in the search, and tries to help Carol cope with her feelings. During one solo outing, he is knocked from a horse and suffers hallucinations of Merle, complaining that he is spending time searching for Sophia and not for him, before returning to the group. After Sophia is discovered to have already been turned in a walker and hidden away in Hershel's barn, Daryl helps Carol to cope with her loss. He helps protect the group as they deal with a potential threat of hostile survivors nearby, and to help evacuate the farm when it is overrun by walkers.
Rick's group find and secure a prison as a new shelter at the start of Season 3. In dealing with this, Rick's wife Lori dies after giving birth to her daughter, and Rick is devastated, having hallucinations of her and unable to make decisions. Daryl steps up to help lead the group alongside Hershel during Rick's lapse. His friendship with Carol strengthens after she was feared lost dealing with the walkers.
The group is forced to deal with the Governor from the nearby Woodbury community, who seeks to kill them and take their supplies for himself. In rescuing two of their allies kidnapped by the Governor, Daryl discovers Merle is still alive, having escaped Atlanta, but working for the Governor. After the Governor considers Merle a traitor, Daryl helps him to escape and returns with him to the prison. Rick's group knows the Governor seeks to capture Michonne or else attack the prison, but Rick's hallucinations leave him unable to make the decision, and Merle takes Michonne himself to the Governor, with Daryl following him after discovering his absence. Merle had a change of heart, lets Michonne go, and sacrificially ambushes the Governor's men. Daryl arrives to find the reanimated corpse of Merle, killed by the Governor, and cries as he is forced to put his brother down. Rick's group fends off a major attack by the Governor, driving him away, and bring the survivors of Woodbury to the prison.
Rick has recovered from Lori's death, and he, Daryl, and Hershel lead the growing population. A flu-like epidemic strikes the prison, killing many before a cure is found. Carol takes initiative to kill two who have shown signs of the flu in secret, and when Rick discovers this, evicts her from the group, upsetting Daryl.
The Governor, having obtained more men, launch a fatal assault on the prison, forcing the survivors to flee in separate groups. Daryl rescues Beth who is catatonic after watching the Governor behead her father Hershel. After days of traveling, Beth opens up to Daryl, and the two get drunk on moonshine as they talk about and let go of their pasts. A few days later, the two are briefly separated while fleeing walkers, and Daryl sees Beth kidnapped by men in a car with a white cross on it. He tries to follow them but is caught by Joe and a small group of bandits, the Claimers, and they force him to stay with them. The group later captures Rick, Carl, and Michonne, but Rick and Daryl fight back when they attempt to rape Carl and Michonne, killing all of the Claimers.
The four travel to Terminus, a safe haven according to signs along a railroad track. Though the community seems open, they find evidence that their friends have been captured. The four are taken prisoner and taken to the others, with Rick asserting they messed with the wrong group.
Rick's group escapes Terminus after discovering they engage in cannibalism, and with the help of Carol, who had launched a walker horde on the site. After meeting Fr. Gabriel Stokes at his church, the group makes plans to head to Washington D.C. While Daryl and Carol are catching up, they see a car drive by with a similar white cross on it, and they give chase. This leads them to find that Beth was taken to Gracy Memorial Hospital, where she was forced to work on patients there by corrupt cops. After Carol is captured, Daryl lead Rick's group to try to rescue them. Carol is saved but Beth is killed in a standoff with the cops, and Daryl returns her body to the church to bury her.
The group continues on, eventually meeting Aaron, a recruiter for the Alexandria Safe-Zone in Virginia, who offers them sanctuary there. Like Rick, Daryl remains skeptical given the lack of survival experience the residents have, but accepts Aaron's offer to assist them in finding more recruits. Daryl and Aaron find the community is being watched by the Wolves, exiles from Alexandria that seek revenge. After walking into a Wolves trap, they are rescued by Morgan Jones, Rick's friend before he met the rest of the group in Atlanta, and they bring him back to Alexandria.
Rick and the others of his group are put in charge of Alexandria after proving their survival skills. To get rid of a walker horde trapped in a nearby quarry, Rick plans to parade them far away from Alexandria. Daryl, along with Abraham and Sasha, lead the parade. However, the Wolves launch a surprise attack, breaking the parade, through Rick instructs Daryl to lead the remaining away. The attack breeches the Alexandria walls, allowing walkers to swarm in. After leading the remaining walkers away, Daryl is briefly waylaid by Dwight and his wife Sherry. He finds a fuel truck, and regroups with Abraham and Sasha, and quickly deals with a group of men working for Negan. They ignite the truck in Alexandria to lure the walkers away from the citizens to dispatch them.
As Alexandria is recovering, Carol opts to leave on her own, concerned about seeing others she cares for die, leaving Daryl upset. Rick and Daryl meet Jesus and are introduced to the Hilltop community. They request help dealing with the Saviors, a brutal group that demand supplies as a periodic offering. Rick, Daryl and others launch an attack on a Savior outpost, appearing to kill Negan and all of the Saviors. Later, Daryl encounters Dwight again with other men who claim to be Saviors working for Negan. After reporting this to Rick and the others, Daryl patrols to track down the Saviors but is soon captured. He is brought to a clearing along with Rick and several others of the group that has been captured by the Saviors, and they met the real Negan, who wields a baseball bat wrapped with barbed wired named "Lucille". Negan prepares to kill one of the group in retaliation for the attack on the Savior compound and force them to swear loyalty to him.
After Negan randomly chose Abraham to kill, Daryl attacks him but he is held back by the Saviors. Negan proceeds to kill Glenn, and then convinces Rick to agree to his terms. Daryl is taken prisoner by Dwight back to Sanctuary, the Savior's base. Dwight attempts to convert him to join Negan, but Daryl refuses. Later, Sherry helps Daryl to escape, and he is helped to Hilltop by Jesus, where Rick and others are meeting to discuss the situation with Negan. After a tearful reunion, they all agree Daryl is a fugitive from Negan and Jesus suggest he go to the Kingdom run by King Ezekiel for safety as well as to try to convince Ezekiel to help. There, Ezekiel remains non-committed as his deal with Negan is amicable, but offers Daryl shelter.
While there, one of Ezekiel's men, Richard, suggests a plan to lure Ezekiel into fighting the Saviors, by having the Savior kill a woman that Ekeziel has taken a liking to but staying outside of the Kingdom. Daryl realizes this is Carol, and refuses to go along with the plan. He opts to return to Hilltop, but stops to reunite with Carol on his way out. After debriefing the Hilltop community, he apologizes to Maggie for Glenn's death, but she forgives him. Daryl then returns to Alexandria, and helps prepare for a plan to attack Negan when he next comes. However, they find Dwight has arrived, who swears that he wants to help them stop Negan, despite Daryl's reservations. Negan does launch a surprise attack on Alexandria, but the timely arrival of the Hilltop and Kingdom communities allow them to overpower the Saviors and their allies, the Scavengers, and the three communities agree to go to war against Negan. Daryl finds a note from Dwight swearing he did not know what Negan had planned.
Daryl is first seen in the season premiere "Mercy", where he is key to their plan to attack the Sanctuary by luring a massive walker herd using placed explosives and his motorcycle. After their plan succeeds, he splits off with Rick to attack a compound housing Savior weaponry. "Monsters" shows Daryl and Rick searching the compound for the guns to no avail; unlike Rick, who is beginning to question their decision to go to war, Daryl has zero qualms about their mission, killing former Atlanta survivor Morales and executing a Savior who Rick promised mercy to. He is still distrusting of Dwight.
When Rick and Daryl have a misunderstanding, their newly acquired weapons are accidentally set ablaze as they fight. After Dwight is later exposed as a mole, one Savior gets away after the rest are shot, and then Dwight asks to be spared. As he is lead away, Daryl takes back his vest.
Daryl used a Horton Scout HD 125 crossbow for the first three seasons. The character's use has inspired reviews of the weapon at Amazon.com referring to the show. It was replaced by a more powerful Stryker StrykeZone 380 during Season 3. In season 6 episode 9, Daryl uses an Airtronic RPG-7 to take out a biker gang working for Negan. In Season 7 Episode 10, Daryl was given a new crossbow, which is a PSE Fang 350. Although he only used the PSE Fang 350 for a short time until he finally took back the Stryker StrykeZone 380 from Dwight in Season 8 Episode 11.
Development and reception
Reedus read the script for the show and wanted to be a part of it so badly that he begged to audition even for a day role. He was asked to come in and read lines. They picked Merle's lines, which is why the rumor still abounds that he read for the role of Merle, but Rooker already had the part. They liked his audition and gave him the role of Daryl. Daryl was originally a recurring character but was upgraded to the main cast in season two. Reedus originally asked the writers and crew if Daryl could get a dog. His request was denied, and Daryl instead got a new crossbow.
After being fourth place in top billing for the third season, Daryl was promoted to second place in top billing for every season since the fourth, having become one of the main protagonists of the series. Fans follow the character, and Reedus in other roles. They have debated Daryl's sexual orientation and sexuality, especially with regard to Caryl (Carol and Daryl) and Bethyl (Beth and Daryl) shippers; some fans argue that he is heterosexual, while others argue that he is gay or bisexual. The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman stated that Daryl is heterosexual, but that the show has portrayed him as somewhat asexual. "I think that he's a very introverted character and I think that's somewhat his appeal. I do have to clear something up, though," said Kirkman. "In the Walking Dead letters column in the old comic book that I do, there was a question that made me mention that there was a possibility early on about making Daryl Dixon's character gay and it caused quite a hubbub online. I just wanted to make it clear that I was saying that the possibility is there and I would've been fine with it, the network would have been fine with it, but we ultimately didn't do that."
Entertainment Weekly featured Reedus as Daryl on the cover of an issue previewing season three of The Walking Dead. Additionally, Daryl won IGN's "Best TV Hero" of 2012, and the character was featured in a Super Bowl XLVII commercial for Time Warner Cable. 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.
TV Guide listed Daryl as the best character on The Walking Dead, ranking the top twenty four characters in the first five seasons. His transformation from a "selfish loner to an integral member of the survivors" was highlighted as well as being an "excellent hunter".
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