Before your heart falls out of its chest, let’s just get this out of the way first: No, we do not know with any certainty if Daryl Dixon will die on The Walking Dead. Yet. However, this is a series where the creator has openly admitted that no one is safe (except Carol), and the tea leaves — if held up to the light in just the right way — have also hinted that Norman Reedus’ time on the series may be coming to an end.
Here’s the evidence that has us worried about Daryl’s character in the back half of season six (some spoilers abound).
The ‘Walking Dead’ Has A Daryl Dixon Problem
We’ve talked about this at length. Daryl wasn’t a character in Robert Kirkman’s original comic, so in the series, the writers have been forced to give the storylines of some other characters to Daryl to keep him around. It’s meant a reduced presence for characters like Abraham and Michonne, who served as Rick’s top advisors in the comics. Likewise, Carol wasn’t around this long in the comics and she’s also serving as something of a strong Rick ally, and there’s only so many characters who can provide this function. Someone is going to have to go. Could Daryl — who has no comic book storylines to fall back on — be the odd man out?
Glenn’s Almost Death
Glenn was supposed to die in the comics when Negan arrives. That’s not likely to happen after the earlier death scare, especially now that showrunner Scott Gimple admitted that the comic storyline would take a “hard left turn” in the back nine episodes this season. A major character still has to go, and that major character could be Daryl.
Why? Well, let’s be honest: Daryl hasn’t had that much to do in recent seasons. He spent most of the front half of the season MIA on his motorcycle leading walkers away from Alexandria, and much of the fifth season grieving the losses of Beth and Tyrese. His role at this point is that of a loner, someone who goes scouting for new additions to Alexandria, and with Alexandria in tatters, it’s not in much need of new recruits.
Out With The Old…
There will be a massive purge of characters in the back half of the season. There are a lot of new characters coming into the show, which means some will have to die off to make room. With arguably the biggest character introduction since The Governor in Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan arriving, this may be the only time that the writers could kill off Daryl without a viewer insurrection. Our hearts may break, but we’re surely going to continue to watch for Negan.
Major Characters Can Still Die
The series has to regain our trust, and after the Glenn death scare, it’s going to have to sacrifice a really big character in order to maintain the illusion that “anyone can die at any time.” If Daryl dies, that’s a lesson we won’t soon forget.
Hitting The Road
We also know that Norman Reedus is getting a new show, a motorcyclin’ travel show on AMC. That could be AMC’s way of keeping Norman Reedus in our lives even after Daryl Dixon is gone. Of The Walking Dead stars, Reedus also seems to have the bigger movie career, with three feature films released in 2015 and another one arriving later this month. He has no shortage of options in a post-The Walking Dead world.
Of course, none of this means that Dixon actually will die this season on The Walking Dead, or even next season. However, I do think it’s important for us to prepare in the event that Dixon meets an untimely end.