Name: Daryl Dixon
TV Show: The Walking Dead
Filed Under: Everyday Person/Extraordinary Circumstances
Portrayed By: Norman Reedus
Even people who do not watch The Walking Dead are probably somewhat familiar with or have at least heard of Daryl Dixon. He is one of those popular television characters that seeps into your consciousness by cultural osmosis. Because: If Daryl dies, we riot.
When we first meet Daryl Dixon, he seems to resemble the “dumb hick” stereotype. However, we quickly begin to understand that Daryl’s life before the ZA was definitely not easy. Whatever weaknesses Daryl has are in direct relation to what has been hinted at regarding his upbringing, which we learn includes physical and emotional abuse and very few opportunities to become anyone other than what he–and pretty much everyone–expects. This has left Daryl with somewhat of a limited worldview, a hesitance to trust, and an unflappable–albeit questionable–commitment to family, even if that family hasn’t always done right by him. It isn’t long before we, as viewers, begin to see Daryl almost as a “wounded bird.” It’s no wonder he’s a popular character. We want so badly to “fix” him.
You want to know who I was before all this? I was nobody. Nothing. – Daryl Dixon
In fact, however, there’s really not much about Daryl that needs fixing. Underneath it all, there lies a man who is more primed than anyone to simply survive. This is not just because Daryl has the necessary survival skills–he knows how to hunt and has impeccable aim with a crossbow–but because “surviving” is what Daryl has been doing long before the zombies arrived. And now that the zombies are here, Daryl has the one thing that makes his ability to survive even more meaningful: purpose.
Oh, and there’s another thing. Daryl has a huge heart. He’s extremely sensitive. And while Daryl may not always be able to fully articulate how much he cares about others, he is an absolute example of actions speaking louder than words. One gets the sense that Daryl has an innate understanding of the feelings and motivations of others. He, too, has been hurt. He, too, has been wracked by guilt and regret. He, too, has suffered tremendous loss. He, too, has had moments where he has felt unsure of his ability to do the right thing.
All of that stuff that came before has made Daryl sometimes believe that his life may not be as valuable as the lives of those he cares about. But Daryl keeps on fighting and surviving and he does it *because* of those around him. Simply put, he wants them to survive, to keep on living… and some part of him must understand that he plays an important role in achieving that. If Daryl truly believes that he was nothing before the ZA, we, as viewers, continue to hope he makes peace with that and understand that whatever came before ceases to matter now. What matters now is that Daryl keeps on living. Keeps on discovering that life is not always what makes you, but what you make of it. Learning, adapting, and rising to the challenge of becoming more than you maybe ever thought yourself capable.
I’d like to think that Daryl, if he hasn’t already, will one day come to the realization that he actually really matters, not only because of what he means to others, not only because he has played and will continue to play an important role in the survival of humanity, but because he *is* humanity, flaws and all. He has demonstrated that time and time again, even if he doesn’t yet see it that way.
Beth once told Daryl: “You’re gonna be the last man standing. You are.”
And so… If Daryl dies, we riot.
Strength: Daryl Dixon is pretty physically strong when it comes to fighting walkers. If you ever find yourself in the midst of a ZA, Daryl’s the guy you want on your team. We’re pretty sure, though, that Daryl’s strength doesn’t make him invincible. Several times he has found himself in quite the predicament–and usually at the hands of other human survivors. However, Daryl is unbelievably strong emotionally. We don’t even know Daryl’s full story or what he has had to endure in his lifetime–only bits and pieces of it–but if we had to guess we’d say it was heart-achingly rough. 4.
Dexterity: This is the area in which Daryl Dixon, the survivor, truly shines. Daryl is exquisitely adept with any kind of weapon–not only his trusty crossbow–and has the presence of body and mind to identify the quickest and best way to get out of a really tight spot. Nearly everyone on The Walking Dead has become proficient at this sort of thing over time, but Daryl just seems to embody these skills perfectly, and he keeps getting better. 5.
Intellect: Daryl Dixon is not what we consider to be “book smart” but he has definitely surprised us over the years with what it is he actually does know. Especially with regards to the kind of knowledge one might need to survive a Zombie Apocalypse. Smarter than he looks, Daryl also possesses a raw kind of emotional intellect which allows him to quickly ascertain a situation or person, although his inability to fully trust *himself* may lead him to sometimes under- or over-compensate in this area. 4.
Charisma: Daryl is definitely a difficult person to get to know. However, when Daryl does allow himself to open up to the possibility or even the reality of making connections with others, it is a beautiful thing to behold. There may not be any other character on The Walking Dead who is so fully committed to the survival of those he cares about. His unique, sometimes-quiet charm and unwavering loyalty make him a person that others care about, too. It just takes awhile to get there sometimes, but if you do, you’re golden. 3.