Actor Michael Rooker is well known for many notable roles during his career. He has made a name for himself within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) for his portrayal of Yondu, a member of an exiled group of Ravagers and also the adoptive father of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). Who did Rooker portray in The Walking Dead?
During the first season of The Walking Dead, Rooker was introduced as Merle Dixon, a racist, misogynistic man who was quick to anger and had no issue voicing his opinion. He was the older brother of Daryl (Norman Reedus), and the brothers initially intended to rob the original Atlanta group, who allowed the brothers to join them.
The Dixon brothers weren’t featured in the comic story created by Robert Kirkman, but instead, they were created specifically for the series. Daryl had always followed his brother but was a much more compassionate person.
When Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) encountered the Atlanta group, he also met Merle. They didn’t hit it off well, as Merle was always against any authority figure. His actions would force Rick to handcuff him to a pipe on the roof of a building. When the key is lost, Rick and the rest of the group are forced to leave him or face an oncoming horde of walkers.
This doesn’t sit well with his brother, and Daryl demands they return to Atlanta to rescue him. When they arrive, Merele is gone, save for his hand that he cut off to free himself.
Michael Rooker in The Walking Dead
Merle would return in season 3 and understandably held a grudge against those who left him in Atlanta. He was a member of the Governor’s (David Morrissey) thugs and was happy to do what he could to take Rick and the others down.
He eventually made nice to be near his brother and, before his death, would attempt to redeem himself by taking out the Governor. Sadly, the Governor got the upper hand and killed Merle.
Daryl would find his brother as a walker, a sight he wasn’t prepared for. He would kill his brother and, in the process, take years of frustrations out on the undead body.
Many have often wondered what turn the story would have taken had Merle survived. It would have been very interesting to see him come up against Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Both men were ruthless, and it would have been anyone’s guess who would have come out on top.
Despite Merle’s temperament, Rooker is a fan favorite at cons. Fans flock to his table to chat and get his autograph and especially love it when Dixon brother photo ops are available.