Is Dog the true star of The Walking Dead’s new episodes?

For much of the Walking Dead, Daryl Dixon has seemed to be the show’s hottest property, with fans debating which character would win the heartthrob’s heart. And while there have been many contenders to his title, finally, in season 10c, it seems Daryl’s been toppled from his throne – by his best-friend Dog.

Daryl’s four-legged friend has been a fan favorite since he first appeared in season 9 (showing up as Daryl’s companion in the woods after the time-jump). Still, now he’s become a star in his own right, getting his own stories in the bonus episodes made to fill the filming gap caused by COVID.

It was clear Dog’s star was on the rise when AMC tweeted the furry star’s own character portrait in the build-up to the 6 episodes coming our way this week. And as promotional material continued to be released, it became more and more obvious that Dog might just be the central character in these stories.

Both star Norman Reedus, and show-runner Angela Kang, have revealed that the second episode in the run, “Find Me,” will include Dog’s origin story. Focusing on the time during the season 9 time-jump, after Rick’s disappearance when Daryl lived in the woods, the episode will fill in the gap and explain more of what Daryl was doing in that time and how Dog came into his life.

Daryl’s side-kick Dog features heavily in The Walking Dead’s season 10c episodes

In the behind the scenes special aired on AMC+, Angela Kang explained, “We are going to tell the story of how he met the dog, how he met the person the dog is connected to.” With Dog’s story being central to this episode’s plot, it’s no surprise then that so many photos released to promote this episode feature the handsome fella in all his shaggy glory.

Whilst Dog’s past is in the spotlight in “Find Me,” his present looks to be plenty busy too, as he also features heavily in the 5th episode “Diverged.” The episode focuses on Carol and the aftermath of the tension rising between Carol and Daryl in light of the events in “Find Me.”

With photos of Dog on the porch in Alexandria, keeping Carol company on the sofa in her home, and finally lying with her on her bed, it looks like Carol has found herself a new best friend. The episode description for “Diverged” suggests Daryl and Carol are spending time apart, and if Carol is alone and troubled, it makes sense that the bestest doggo in all of the land would be the one to keep her company. Dog doesn’t judge. Dog just dogs.

However, it seems this turn of events hasn’t gone unnoticed by Norman Reedus, who – in an interview with TV Insider – said of his canine co-star, “We have a nice bond. Whenever another actor has a scene with the dog and the dog bonds, I get really jealous.”

So it could be that the biggest question arising in 10c is not how will Maggie cope with Negan, or will Carol and Daryl’s friendship surprise, but rather who will win Dog’s heart?

He’s already presumably voluntarily left his first owner (It seems unlikely Daryl dog-napped him), and we’ve seen him repeatedly runoff from Daryl to Connie. Now it seems he’s left Daryl’s side to be with Carol. Is Dog a dog about town, or is he simply an empath who goes where he’s most needed?

However, the fight for Dog’s love goes down in seasons 10 and 11; it seems like both Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride have claimed dibs on the canine star’s future. Later in the same TV Insider interview, when asked about the details of the upcoming Carol and Daryl spin-off show, Norman Reedus said he hoped for a Carol, Daryl, Dog spin-off. Melissa McBride agreed, adding, “Dog would be fun to have along on the ride.”

With talk of the new spin-off being akin to the 70s “on the road” series Kung Fu, a Littlest Hobo homage in the spin-off seems not unreasonable – especially given a clip in the 10c teaser shows Dog running along happily beside Daryl’s motorbike. It may be a sign of things to come, with Dog possibly at the center of the Walking Dead’s first thruple as he heads into the sunset running beside Daryl’s bike, or – more appropriate for his new leading man status – riding in a side-car, his fur tousled in the wind.

Either way, it seems hopeful that Dog will avoid the fate of most other friendly animals and pets (RIP Shiva) in the show and continue to have his own story to tell. No doubt the meetings to discuss a Dog movie are already happening in the hallowed halls of AMC.

Tune in to AMC on February 28 for the return of The Walking Dead.