That is, by no means, an exaggeration of just how much “The Walking Dead” fans love them some Daryl. He is the most popular character on cable television’s most popular show, which returns for Season 5 on Oct. 12. Daryl is also the one “Walking Dead” character whose possible demise is nearly impossible to predict.
A year ago, “The Walking Dead” comic-book creator Robert Kirkman made a point in telling Daryl Dixon fans that “No one is safe.” One thing Kirkman may have forgot is that he didn’t actually create Daryl’s character.
Unlike most of the characters on AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” Daryl isn’t rooted in the comic book. He was created by the first season’s writing team specifically for the TV version.
Characters like Carol and Glenn (SPOILER ALERT) have already died in the comics. That doesn’t mean they will die on the TV, but at least we have some idea as to how that might go down.
The difference is that anything could happen to Daryl. His fate is unpredictable. Yet, don’t tell the fans that.
The character could have been killed off during Season 1 and most people wouldn’t have cared. However, fans’ love affair with Mr. Dixon reached new heights during Season 2, when he became the rebel with a heart.
That infatuation has only grown, particularly during Season 4 when we got a closer look into Daryl’s past and saw him bond with Rick on a brotherly level.
Looking at other recent TV dramas with cult followings, there’s a bit of a pattern when it comes to beloved male, supporting characters – they don’t die. Jesse Pinkman made it on “Breaking Bad.” Sol Star thrived on “Deadwood.” James “Sawyer” survived the island on “Lost.”
Still, “The Walking Dead” is a different beast. The show is about a group of survivors during a zombie apocalypse. Hope is at a minimum. Also, you have to wonder with actor Norman Reedus’ star on the rise, how long will he opt to stick around?
So what would happen if the show runners did decide to kill Daryl? Sorry to tell you, Daryl Dixon fans, but “The Walking Dead” would go on. As great as Daryl is, Rick, Carl and even Michonne are more essential to the show’s plot and themes going forward.
Plus, there’s already been talk of the show going all the way through a 12th season. Given the popularity of “The Walking Dead,” it’s hard to imagine the death of any character, other than maybe Rick, affecting the show’s run as a ratings juggernaut.
That doesn’t mean Daryl will die, ever. I caution Kirkman and anyone suggesting otherwise to look at a show like “The Good Wife,” which chose to kill off fan-favorite Will Gardner last season. The reaction wasn’t good and I have a hard time believing that show will ever fully recover from it.