The Walking Dead series introduced many characters who quickly became fan favorites. While characters like Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal), and others were featured in the comics, many characters were created specifically for the series. One of these is Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), whose story was not in the comics and became a favorite of many viewers and will be featured in a spinoff of his own, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, which premieres on AMC and AMC+ in the fall of 2023.
The first introduction of Daryl Dixon was in season 1, episode 2, “Tell It To The Frogs.” He came on the scene in a grumpy mood after he was tracking a deer and discovered a walker chomped on it. He was then told of the fate of his brother Merle (Michael Rooker), who was handcuffed in Atlanta on a roof. He reacted with extreme anger and emotion at the thought of his brother being left on that roof to die.
Throughout the series, Daryl experiences a drastic transformation. He is one character made for the apocalypse, as his lousy childhood prepared him to be a survivor. He would eventually learn the true meaning of family and become a leader among the survivors.
Daryl Dixon’s best episodes of The Walking Dead
“Cherokee Rose,” season 2, episode 4, premiered on AMC on November 6, 2011.
Daryl’s tender side is shown when he picks a Cherokee Rose for Carol (Melissa McBride), who is overcome with worry for her daughter Sophia (Madison Lintz), who has been missing for days. While out searching for the girl, Daryl finds the rose, brings it back to Hershel’s (Scott Wilson) farm, and tells Carol the story. Native Americans relocated to reservations and lost many lives along the way. They believed the rose would bloom where the tears of mothers who lost their children were shed. Daryl tells her he is under no allusions that a rose would bloom for his brother but believes this one was for Sophia.
“Chupacabra,” season 2, episode 5, premiered on AMC on November 13, 2011.
This episode saw Daryl searching for Sophia, who had been missing for several days. The survivors had been scouring the countryside for signs that the girl was still alive; Daryl discovered her doll during his search.
Daryl was riding a horse near a creek when a snake spooked his horse, and he fell down a cliff hitting his head and impaling himself on one of his arrows in the process. This would lead to hallucinations of his brother Merle who taunts him and tells him he is a failure. Daryl wakes in and out of consciousness to a walker chewing on his boot. He quickly kills two walkers and eventually makes his way back to Hershel’s farm but due to his bloody appearance and limp, Andrea (Laurie Holden) mistakes him for a walker and shoots him. The bullet grazed his temple, and his wounds were cared for by Hershel. Later Carol brings him food, thanks him for his diligence in searching for her daughter, and kisses his forehead, showing him that someone does care about him.
“Still,” season 4, episode 12 premiered on AMC on March 2, 2014.
The episode takes place after the prison’s fall when the survivors are scattered with no idea who survived the attack. Daryl and Beth (Emily Kinney) fled the prison together, and this episode saw them trying to survive while searching for anyone still alive.
The episode would see Beth expresses a wide variety of emotions, from anger to heartbreaking loss. She witnessed the beheading of her father, Hershel, at the prison and had no idea if her sister Maggie (Lauren Cohan) survived. Daryl kept his emotions to himself until later in the episode.
After Beth decides she wants to drink alcohol, Daryl takes her to a cabin where he knows there will be moonshine. It is quickly revealed that Daryl is an angry drunk, leading to an emotional breakdown. He believes he is responsible for the death of her father at the hands of the Governor (David Morrissey) because he had the opportunity to shoot him but didn’t. Later they would share stories of their families and burn the cabin down as a way for Daryl to let go of his past.
“The Cell,” season 7, episode 3, premiered on AMC on November 6, 2016.
Daryl was taken prisoner by Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) Saviors, and Dwight (Austin Amelio) is in charge of breaking him down so he will submit to the Savior’s way of life. He feeds Daryl dog food sandwiches and forces him to listen to “Easy Street” on a loop. Daryl informs Dwight he will never bow to Negan; Dwight tells him he once said the same thing.
The entire episode shows Daryl’s fragile mental state as Dwight taunts him with an image of Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) bashed in skull, blaming Daryl for Glenn’s death. Dwight then plays “Crying” by Roy Orbison, the combination of the photo and sad song is too much for Daryl, who breaks down. Despite all Dwight puts him through, Daryl refuses to utter, “I am Negan.”
“The Obliged,” season 9, episode 4, which premiered on AMC on October 28, 2018.
This episode sees Daryl offer to take Rick to Alexandria, where Maggie is headed to kill Negan. Rick realizes Daryl is taking him elsewhere and that he is in on the plan. Daryl reveals he was giving Maggie time to carry out her plan. This leads to Rick and Daryl in an all-out brawl where they fall into a large hole where they struggle to escape and talk about their opinions about Rick allowing Negan to survive.
Daryl delivers some hard truths and tells him if it wasn’t for Glenn, Rick would have never found his family, and he owes Maggie for that. They argue about whether or not Negan should be allowed to survive after all he has done. Rick fears that if Negan is killed, he will become a martyr, and Carl’s death will mean nothing. Daryl tells him that he would die for Rick and would have died for Carl.
This episode will also see Rick being to lure the horde toward the bridge, which eventually ends in tragedy.
Many episodes feature essential moments in Daryl’s life; these are just a few of the great ones. Check out the Best of Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead’s YouTube page featuring numerous videos featuring Daryl and Norman Reedus.
Daryl Dixon will return in The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon spinoff that premieres on AMC on Sept. 10 at 9 p.m. ET. AMC+ will air this episode three days early.