Daryl Dixon is arguably the most popular character in The Walking Dead, owing mostly to the earlier seasons of his work. However, he’s not a comic-book character, and as the series has progressed, creator Robert Kirkman and showrunner Scott Gimple have run into some difficulties keeping him involved in storylines from the source material. Robert Kirkman has spoken about the Daryl problem in the past, and more or less conceded the character often has to subsume the role of others.
Specifically, for instance, the creation of Daryl Dixon cost Tyrese his role on the television show, as Chad Coleman explained after this character was killed off.
“The creation of Daryl, more than anything else, is probably the reason why I’m not on the show. I was [Rick’s] right-hand man [in the comics].”
The role of right hand to Rick has been spread among several characters over the course of the series. Tyrese has fulfilled that role, as have Michonne, Carol and Abraham. Michonne has been transformed into right hand and love interest (and she’s not going anywhere); Carol’s character (and strength) has basically been decimated, culminating in tonight’s episode in which she basically abandoned Alexandria because she could no longer kill; and Tyrese was killed off last season.
That essentially leaves two characters fulfilling similar roles in the series: Daryl and Abraham. That role is about to get even more crowded now that Jesus has come on board. Moving forward, one of those three needs to die. We got a hint of which it might be in tonight’s episode, “Twice as Far,” when creator Scott Gimple spared the life of Abraham.
For those who are not familiar with the comics, it’s helpful to know that Abraham was shot through the eye and killed suddenly by Dwight with a bow and arrow. That didn’t happen in tonight’s episode. Rather, the “left turn” the series took was in killing Denise in that matter, instead. Denise died exactly as Abraham had in the comics.
That likely means one of two things: Either Abraham’s life was spared because he is set to become the first victim of Negan (unlikely), or Scott Gimple has decided to spare Abraham”s life and instead have Negan kill off Daryl, instead. If Abraham survives, it’s difficult to imagine a series where Daryl, Abraham, and Jesus can co-exist in similar roles. That’s too many cooks in the right-hand man position.