‘The Walking Dead’: Comics Departure May Spell Doom For Daryl Dixon

Comics Spoilers

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.

If the role of right-hand man to Rick could go to either Abraham, Daryl or Jesus, why does it make sense that Abraham is spared? Let’s do the math:

Why have Abraham develop a relationship with Sasha, if the plan is only to kill him off (and break Sasha’s spirit again, as it had been broken after the death of her brother and Bob)? Why develop that character even more by deepening his relationship with Eugene if the plan is to off him in the season finale? Eugene is an ammunition expert now. He’s going to need protection (whether Eugene wants it or not). If Abraham was going to die, there’s no reason he shouldn’t have been killed by Dwight tonight, as he was in the comics. Moreover, Abraham’s death by Negan does not have the maximum impact required for what is set to be the biggest death in the series.

Meanwhile, Jesus has just been introduced to the show; he’s gained a following with fans; he has many of the same skills as Daryl; and he has something that Daryl does not: A relationship with the Hilltop Colony. That’s going to be important in the future of the series. Tom Payne is pretty great, too.

More importantly, Daryl’s character has been going nowhere for the last two seasons. Yes, he had a featured episode with Beth in season four, and yes, he introduced Dwight to the series in a storyline that didn’t exist in the comics, and yes, he tagged along on the supply run that led to the discovery of Paul.

However, Daryl’s utility to the series has largely been exhausted. He doesn’t move the storyline. More often than not, he plays third wheel to comics storylines, as he did in tonight’s episode, a tag-along on Denise’s supply run. Moreover, while he did play a role in finding Jesus and, before that, thwarting the zombie herd in the midseason premiere, Daryl’s role since the death of Beth has been largely insignificant. While practically everyone else is pairing off into romantic couples, even Daryl continues to be the lone wolf. Daryl has little left to do (and with Morgan put on Carol duty, Daryl has even been cut out of the relationship fans most wanted to see).

Most importantly, after toying with the fate of Glenn for much of the season, Scott Gimple and Co. need a big death to atone for the trickery and to coincide with the introduction of Negan. We know it won’t be Rick, who is the leader of the show; we know it won’t be Carol, who vanished has gone out into the zombie world to Eat, Pray, Love and find herself; and we know it won’t be Michonne (because Danai Gurira has said as much). For maximum impact, that basically leaves Glenn and Daryl.

The decision to spare Abraham, the introduction of Jesus, all of this other evidence, plus the leaked song from the season finale all seem to point to one man: Daryl Dixon. If Scott Gimple wants to make sure that the audience rightfully hates Negan when he’s introduced, it makes perfect sense to have him kill off the series’ most beloved character.

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