The Walking Dead began as a comic book and when it made its TV debut, it instantly became one of cable’s biggest shows. Most of that audience has stuck around and helped the show achieve its impressive longevity. A big part of the reason the audience sticks around is Daryl Dixon, the walker-killing archer with a heart of gold. The character has had a lot of time to develop since his introduction in season 1, with each new season revealing new layers to this complex but ultimately tough as nails man. Without further ado, here are 42 sharp-shooting facts about Daryl Dixon.
Daryl Dixon Facts
42. New Faces
Despite being one of the most popular characters in the TV version of The Walking Dead, Daryl Dixon wasn’t actually in the comics. Comic creator Robert Kirkman, who also produces and writes for the TV version, has been asked if he would be interested in bringing Daryl to the comic, and while he likes the character, he also likes the “separation” of the comic and TV world.
With so many fangirls in The Walking Dead audience, it was inevitable that Daryl Dixon’s sexuality would be of interest to them. Since season 5, there has been considerable speculation that Daryl Dixon is gay, as he’s had no romantic relationships in the show. As creator Robert Kirkman said, Daryl was portrayed as “somewhat asexual”. Kirkman admitted that he did contemplate making the character gay, but has definitively said that Daryl is straight.
Since The Walking Dead takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting, death is a constant presence in the character’s lives. However, some segments of Daryl’s fan base have a hard time accepting that anyone can die. The term “If Daryl dies, we riot” has become a rallying cry in online discussion of the show. Heard that, Kirkman?
Norman Reedus, the actor who brings Daryl to life, has said that he “could play Daryl forever,” elaborating by saying “I would hate to leave the show. I would play this role until I’m 80, I really would. And I could.” And fans would totally accept it, even if hypothetically, seasons 25 through 40 just featured Daryl wandering alone across the US after all the other characters die because they’re not as badass as him.
Norman Reedus originally auditioned for the role of Daryl’s brother, Merle. However, season 1 frontrunner Frank Darabont was so impressed with Reedus’s audition that he and his team decided to create a new character for the show.
The crossbow is almost synonymous with Daryl’s character. The first crossbow is a Horton Scout HD 125. In season 3, Michonne takes a Stryker crossbow from Morgan’s safe house, and the Stryker becomes Daryl’s on-screen weapon from that point on.
Comic creator and TV producer Robert Kirkman has stated that the writing team did not initially know what to do with Daryl’s character. Actor Norman Reedus’s own improvisation helped to create the character and his input also played an impact on Daryl’s look.
35. Luscious Locks
As Norman Reedus says, Daryl’s hair “is part of his character […] so when it gets cut [there] has to be for a reason.” No pulling a Felicity here.
34. Rabid Fangirls
Daryl’s fanbase not only threatens to riot if he dies, but they also harass actor Norman Reedus’s girlfriends online: “Girls will just bash them. They’re super mean, or they threaten them.” Reedus is currently linked to Diane Kruger, who has played some super tough roles herself, so hopefully, she can take the fangirls.
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33. Hey, That’s Mine!
While Daryl isn’t in The Walking Dead comics, his signature weapon is sported most notably by Dwight in the comics. Hope he handles it better than Dwight from The Office does.
Daryl is known for being a rugged, gruff anti-hero who can work as a lone wolf or as a part of a team. In short, he is a badass. Nothing sums that up better than the time that he made a necklace out of walker ears. Maybe not as badass as Michonne’s chained zombie servants, but definitely less psycho.
Robert Kirkman and the current showrunner, Greg Nicotero, have no plans for a gay storyline with Daryl. However, season 1 showrunner Frank Darabont approached Norman Reedus about such a storyline, saying Daryl would be “prison gay.” Presumably, that meant he would pursue men due to a lack of options. With off-the-wall choices like that, it’s hard not to wonder what the show would’ve looked like 8 seasons on with Darabont at the helm.
30. Dark Past
Although Daryl is introduced as a softer version of his racist and abrasive brother, Merle, that doesn’t mean the two couldn’t work together to survive. Daryl and Merle originally planned to rob the group, but Rick threw a wrench into that plan when he handcuffed Merle to a roof. When Daryl and Merle reunite in season 3, Daryl decides to leave the group and travel with Merle. It is Merle’s ruthlessness and willingness to steal from other groups that drives Daryl back to Rick.
29. Essence of…Death
Lot18 partnered with The Walking Dead to create wines inspired by three characters. Negan, Rick, and Daryl each had a unique bottle and wine made for their character. Daryl’s wine is an appropriately deep and dark California Cabernet Sauvignon.
28. Pet Name
As Daryl spends more time with Rick’s group we slowly see his softer side. The apex of these moments is likely him holding and feeding baby Judith, and dubbing her “little ass kicker.”
27. All Aboard
While Daryl has yet to have any explicit romantic relationship in the show, plenty of fans hoped that he would either pair up with Beth or Carol. One’s a little young for him, while the other is age-appropriate, meaning it would probably never be shown on TV in that case. Oh well!
We don’t learn much about Daryl’s mom in the show, but we do learn that she died in a fire. As Daryl says, she was smoking in bed and the lit cigarette must have set something on fire.
Daryl’s first appearance was in episode 3 of season one, “Tell it to the Frogs.” He’s shown emerging from the woods, disappointed that a walker got to the deer he had been hunting and had shot with his crossbow first.
24. Easy Street
Fans will likely remember the nauseating reoccurrence of the song “Easy Street” in “The Cell”. Daryl spends most of the episode in a sweater with an “A” painted on it. The A simply stands for a**hole, as confirmed by the episode’s writer, Angela Kang.
23. Fan Favorite
Daryl’s popularity among The Walking Dead fanbase has led some commentators to speculate that the show won’t kill Daryl off, simply for fear of losing viewers. Of course, that hasn’t held them back in the case of other characters before…
22. April Fool’s
Since the team behind The Walking Dead comics knew fans were hoping to see Daryl make his print debut, they decided to have some fun. An employee of Skybound, a multimedia platform co-founded by Robert Kirkman, worked his Photoshop magic on an image from The Walking Dead #129. Jokester Brian Huntington edited an image of comic book character Dwight so that it mimicked Daryl’s distinctive wing-patterned leather jacket, April-fooling many fans into believing that Daryl had finally made his first comic appearance.
21. The End
Norman Reedus doesn’t know if Daryl will die or not, but he has his own ideal Daryl death scenario worked out: “I think you’d see a sunset. I would walk up over a hill and then a little wolf puppy would come out of the woods and follow me up. And people would just go, “Whatever happened to that guy?”” Why not.
20. The Man With No Name
In a lot of ways, Daryl fits the trope of the strong, silent loner. Although he was introduced as being a part of Shane’s group in The Walking Dead, he wasn’t as loquacious as his fellow survivors. Daryl wasn’t the type to open up to most people, just like Clint Eastwood’s characters in old Western films. Although Daryl was crafted partly by Norman Reedus’s own experiences, he is also inspired by Clint Eastwood.
Daryl’s character growth, in terms of his comfort with the other survivors, has moved almost in tandem with Norman Reedus’s growing comfort with his classmates. Daryl’s more abrasive nature in season 1 was inspired by Reedus’s own feelings of insecurity around his castmates, as Reedus said: “He's got such a chip on his shoulder. He doesn't think anybody likes him so he plays everything like he doesn't look at you.” As Reedus’s insecurity dissipated, so did Daryl’s.
18. Inside Man
Daryl has ended up mixing with almost every major villain or antagonist group in The Walking Dead. After the survivors left Merle behind in the city, handcuffed to a roof, Daryl went to find him. Next, he is with Joe and The Claimers as they hunt Rick. Then, he is taken prisoner by The Saviors.
17. Cash In
Daryl got his own TV tie-in in the form of the video game, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. The game acts as a prequel to the TV show and is officially canon.
16. Vroom Vroom
In keeping with the bad boy trope, Daryl’s go-to vehicle is a motorcycle. His first was a Triumph Bonneville TR6C. The second was a one of a kind bike built by Virginia’s Classified Moto. Two Honda CB750s were combined to make the bike look like it was built from scavenged parts.
15. No Dice
Actor Norman Reedus wanted Daryl to get a dog as the show progressed. The showrunners declined this request, and Daryl got a new crossbow instead.
From seasons 1 through 7, Daryl remained one of the show’s top 5 zombie killers, in terms of the sheer number of zombies the audience saw him dispatch on screen. Go, Daryl, go!
13. Civil War
Daryl’s rabid fans aren’t a monolith. There are several different subgroups, including Norman’s Nymphos, Reedus Sluts, Dixon’s Vixens and Boondock Betties. You can’t say they didn’t get creative with the names.
12. Deck the Halls
Daryl and Merle Dixon will both appear as Hallmark Christmas tree ornaments, which will go on sale October 6, 2018.
11. These Bows Ain’t Loyal
The season 8 finale implies that Daryl might turn against Rick, but Norman Reedus was quick to tweet that Daryl isn’t turning on “brother Rick” anytime soon.
Fan theories don’t just apply to hookups. Fans have been circulating their own theory that Daryl is related to Fear the Walking Dead’s Madison Clark, or maybe Rick Grimes. Actress Kim Dickens says it would be fun if her character was a “kissing cousin” of Daryl.
When asked if Daryl’s crossbow has a name, Norman Reedus revealed that he named it after his mom, Marianne.
8. Déjà vu
Skybound pulled another April Fool’s Day Prank when they created a poster for a Daryl prequel film. Don’t people check their calendars?
Daryl’s emotional issues make it hard for him to open up to people, with Rick’s group being one of the first groups that he’s genuinely a part of. Since Daryl has intimacy issues, executive producer Greg Nicotero has stated that he thinks Daryl is a virgin: “I don’t think Daryl has ever been close enough with anyone to have sex so I always imagined that he’s a shy 12-year-old kid who doesn't know how to handle the emotions that he has…” Reedus has also offered some support for Nicotero’s interpretation: “I don’t think Daryl is the type of guy to just throw someone up against a tree and kiss in the moonlight.” Is this just a ploy to calm the thirsty fan groups?
Like any fan favorite, it’s the small details about Daryl that sometimes attract a lot of fan speculation. Aside from his sexuality, fans have also wondered if there is any significance to the angel wings on the leather jacket that he wears throughout most of the show. One theory is that the wings could be a reference to a biker club since The Hell’s Angels symbol is a skull with wings.
5. Hard Knock Life
Daryl’s backstory is never fully fleshed out, but the show does reveal that Daryl was abused by his father. In one scene, Merle rips Daryl’s shirt off his back to reveal the scars their father left behind. In another, Daryl decides to take a book titled Treating Survivors of Childhood Abuse that he finds at a woman’s shelter.
4. Sibling Rivalry
Daryl and his brother, Merle, both suffered abuse at the hands of their father. However, Daryl was also bullied by Merle throughout his life.
Daryl’s history of abuse at the hands of his father and his brother and the losses he has endured since the rise of the zombies gives him more emotional baggage than the average character on The Walking Dead. Actor Norman Reedus also says that this is part of the reason Daryl has a hard time communicating his feelings: “He’s so emotionally damaged that he can’t really express himself or deal with emotions in this highly volatile, emotional setting.” Reedus’s own history shaped this part of the character since Reedus is also “emotionally damaged and “didn’t really grow up with family.”
2. Rebel With A Cause
As the show moves further into the conflict with Negan, Daryl is motivated more by a desire for revenge and atonement. Daryl still feels guilty about Glen’s death, despite Maggie’s insistence that it wasn’t his fault: “Everybody has their job in the plan, and it’s a very thought-out, well-conceived plan. But yeah, Daryl’s just out for revenge at this point. He’s tired of playing around.”
1. Fake Out
Norman Reedus may have one-upped the fine people at Skybound when he tweeted a photo of himself from a little-known horror movie he appeared in called Pandorum. The gory photo, where it appears that he’s being disemboweled by a pack of walker-esque creatures, made it look like Reedus was tweeting a spoiler about the possible death of his beloved character Daryl. Needless to say, fans freaked until the origins of the photo were uncovered. Doesn’t Reedus know that he’ll start a riot?