Like few male TV heroes preceding him, Daryl Dixon is a jagged amalgamation of masculinity, courage, compassion, brutality, and grit glued together by a dithering sense of honor and unwavering backwoods wisdom. Oh, and he’s friggin’ badass! As The Walking Dead’s resident action figure, Daryl comes complete with a unique sense of style (bloodstained Mexican poncho), distinctive transportation (motorcycle), and specific brand of weaponry (crossbow).
In other words, Daryl (Norman Reedus) is the capable kind of man you’d want on your side when the apocalypse hits and your douchey neighbor who refused to return your weedwacker bursts through your front door with every intention of chewing through your femur.
With enough charm and zombie-killing skills to get his own spin-off (please make this happen) he’s arguably become the show’s most beloved character. So, let’s take a trip through the first four seasons of The Walking Dead to revisit some of the moments that made Daryl Dixon one of the most badass characters on TV.
1. World” Meet Daryl. He loves crossbows, deer meat and Merle.
If you haven’t noticed by now, many of the survivors of the zombie apocalypse are partial to a specific weapon. For Rick, it’s his massive, rotating hand cannon; Michonne likes her sword; Tyreese brandishes a hammer; Merle uses his stump-blade; Dale always has a rifle; Lori uses her lady-parts; for Shane, it’s cynicism. Perhaps no one, though, is rightfully equipped for taking down walking corpses more than Daryl Dixon: he loves his crossbow. It’s swift, accurate and most importantly quiet.
In season one’s “Tell It to the Frogs,” it’s made clear that Daryl gives zero fu****. He kicks a headless corpse while shouting obscenities, yells at an old man (Dale), ponders the notion of cutting deer meat around an infected bite area, then finishes his tirade off by shooting a bolt through the eye of an animated zombie head.
2. A horse, a man, and a plan.
In season two’s “Chupacabra,” Daryl is clearly the most motivated to find the missing little girl, Sophia, adding a layer of valor to the character. When the horse he’s riding gets spooked, Daryl is launched into a valley, impaling himself with one of his arrows on the way down.
Daryl valiantly tries to crawl up the hill but tumbles back down, exacerbating the injury. Hurt and in a hallucinatory state, a vision of Merle tells him to “get up off his ass.” When he comes to, a walker attacks the prone Daryl, and in one of the more brutal zombie kills of the season, he bludgeons the bastard with a branch, flattening its head before stabbing it.
A second zombie emerges, and Daryl, perhaps out of branches, pulls the arrow out of his own torso(!), loads it into the crossbow, and headshots the zombie. Then, he makes a necklace of zombie ears, which in all honesty should be a product available on QVC.
3. Not for the faint of heart.
We already know that Daryl is great at hunting, tracking and using body parts for jewelry: add torture to that list. In season two’s “Judge, Jury, Executioner,” Daryl seems to be having a grand old time beating and sticking his knife inside the wound of a prisoner who may or may not be part of a band of murderous marauders. Like Sayid from Lost, Daryl is good at the tactic because even though he is a teddy bear at times, he’s certainly not squeamish.
Daryl compounds this notion even further when, at the end of the episode, Dale gets disemboweled by a walker. Although the rest of the gang can barely stand to watch him writhe helplessly on the ground, Daryl puts a bullet in his head without flinching.