If you were to name The Walking Dead franchise’s greatest character creation, it would easily be Daryl Dixon. Daryl has almost become synonymous with the show, as he is the most popular character in the series, and has had some of the most memorable moments. His own spin-off show even premiered this week.
But in addition to his highlights, this character has also had a ton of lowlights; and as AMC takes the risk of basing a spin-off on him, and setting its popular franchise in a whole other continent for the first time, there are obviously some things it would rather you didn’t remember. So here are the 10 things AMC wants you to forget about The Walking Dead‘s Daryl Dixon.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.
10. Daryl was a last-minute addition to the show
Let’s address the obvious one first. In the Walking Dead comics, Daryl Dixon does not exist. AMC created him for the TV series; and they will certainly brag about that bit. However, what AMC might want you to forget is that Daryl was not originally planned to be a part of the show.
What changed everything was Norman Reedus’ audition for the role of Merle Dixon, which greatly impressed the show’s producers. They were so taken with his performance that they decided to create the character of Daryl Dixon specifically for Norman.
Thankfully, for all of us; as Daryl became the most valuable character on the show, especially when other key characters, like Rick, Michonne, and Maggie, left the series.
9. Daryl was almost named Dwight
That’s right. Not only was Daryl Dixon not supposed to be in The Walking Dead; he was going to be under a different name: Dwight.
No, I am not joking with this.
During the first drafts of season one, Daryl’s name was Dwight. Norman Reedus himself was under the impression that he would be playing the character of Dwight, especially considering Dwight’s significance in the comics.
Ultimately, AMC made the (good) decision to change the character’s name to Daryl Dixon, creating a unique role for Norman Reedus — and, ironically, setting up a new relationship: the Daryl-Dwight best frenemyship.
8. The CGI possum
No, I don’t mean the deer. The Walking Dead has featured some impressive visuals and CGI effects throughout its run. But like many long-running TV series, there have been moments where the CGI didn’t exactly meet the highest standards. A common example is that damn CGI deer from season 7, episode 12.
But another example appeared earlier: the possum in season 5, when the group arrives at Alexandria. You can see it in the video below, in the bottom right at the 1 to 3 second mark.
I mean, yikes; that is an awfully created CGI possum. I have trouble figuring out what the show was thinking, allowing that to air. The possum didn’t even come out of the right side of the garbage can. Luckily, Reedus saves the scene with the “we brought dinner” line; that was hilarious. Still, not enough to scrub it from my memory.
7. Daryl uses practice crossbow bolts that are nonlethal
Daryl Dixon is widely recognized for his signature crossbow in the show; it makes his appearance and fighting style more distinctive, important in an ensemble show. However, what many people may not be aware of is that the arrows he uses have field tips, typically used for practice shooting and non-lethal purposes. In contrast, broadheads, which Daryl never uses on the show, are the type of arrows designed for lethality.
In other words, AMC probably doesn’t want you asking: if Daryl’s arrows can’t create significant wounds, how can he effectively dispatch walkers with them?
6. Norman Reedus’ concussion while filming the final season
In acting, there are always risks of severe injuries. Viggo Mortensen broke two toes while filming The Lord of the Rings, just from kicking a prop helmet. Decades of workplace safety laws have made it standard practice for productions to try to prevent that from happening — but they’re not always successful.
However, what AMC would probably like you to forget was just how severe Reedus’ injury was. He sustained it while filming a scene for the final season of The Walking Dead; by this time, Daryl Dixon had become the main character. The injury was reported as minor, but it definitely wasn’t. The concussion was apparently so severe that many on set, and Reedus himself, believed that he was going to die.
Fortunately, he was able to recover in a few weeks. He missed a ton of time when it came to fan conventions; filming was delayed; and AMC would probably like it if you didn’t think too hard about how a person could possibly sustain a life-threatening injury while surrounded by dozens of people and cameras all watching him like hawks.
5. Daryl was going to lose his arm in season 7
This one was confirmed by Norman Reedus himself, in the tweet below.
The original plan was for Daryl to lose his arm as a punishment after he punched Negan in the face. However, the writers ultimately decided not to go through with this plan, primarily because it would have been costly to CGI Daryl with a missing arm. Instead, they opted for a more psychological scene in which Negan tricks Rick into thinking he’d have to cut off his son Carl’s arm. This scene, incidentally, is widely regarded as one of Andrew Lincoln’s best-acted moments in The Walking Dead series.
Imagine, though, if they had actually followed through with Daryl losing his arm. It would have been a significant and quite challenging change for the character; especially now that he has his own show. It’s likely for the best that AMC decided to abandon this idea.
4. That April Fools joke
Look, I love April Fools, and love to tell jokes; however, some jokes will mostly reach exactly the people who aren’t going to find them funny. Such as the supposed inclusion of Daryl Dixon in the Walking Dead comics.
So Skybound and Robert Kirkman started toying around with the idea that in issue 129 of the Walking Dead comics, Daryl — a made-for-the-TV-show, now fan-favorite, character — was going to make his appearance. Leaks of the comic’s cover were making the rounds; the image was unambiguously teasing that specific character’s introduction. Plus, Skybound, along with the franchise’s official Twitter account, were just saying it almost outright:
Problem was, the date was April 1, 2014. It was an April Fools joke, and The Walking Dead fans weren’t laughing. The image was actually a reworked version of a shot of Dwight, one of Negan’s Saviors, from The Walking Dead #98 comic book.
The Walking Dead franchise has become one of the AMC’s biggest cash cows; and just one of the biggest things in TV in general. So as they grow it further and further, into games and more, they probably don’t want you to remember that time when they straight-up lied about this exact thing.
3. Fans hated the Leah and Daryl love story
Ah, one of my least favorite moments in the later The Walking Dead seasons. So it was rumored at this time that AMC was going to pull the trigger on having a Daryl romance story, something many fans wanted to see. Who would Daryl’s romance be with? Would it be one that built on lots of shared history and experiences, like with long-time characters Carol, Rosita, or Connie?
Nope. It was a new character, Leah, who was also the leader of the next villainous gang that the group was facing.
I mean, what? WHY? It also didn’t help that the characters had no chemistry whatsoever, the relationship was rushed, and it didn’t really mesh with the direction the plot was going in. It was a terrible idea that should have never seen the screen. Even the fans of the show really thought of Leah as ‘get off my TV’ terrible.
Daryl’s future love story, with Connie in season 10, was much better received, and was one of my favorite parts. AMC doesn’t want you to mention that the first time they ever tried to develop Daryl’s romantic life, they botched it; and frankly, many fans might be just fine with that — the sooner they forget it, the better.
2. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct game
You might have noticed I mentioned this in my previous article, 10 Things AMC Wants You To Forget About The Walking Dead.
I’m mentioning it again because that game really is absolutely horrendous. It was a pure cash-grab focused on the franchise’s golden goose, Daryl Dixon, and it shows in how bad this game was on every level. It was severely broken; the graphics were awful; everything was too cheesy; and worst of all, the story was awful.
AMC’s latest attempt to squeeze more money out of this character is being done much better this time around, so far. But they’d definitely like it if you forgot what they’re willing to do.
1. The Nazi symbols on Daryl’s bike
Yep, that pair of white lightning bolts/S’s next to each other, below the handles, was a symbol used by the SS of the Nazi Party, and is used by White supremacists today. This bike, with this symbol, was shown multiple times in The Walking Dead. In-universe, the bike was technically Merle’s; so you could assume Daryl didn’t put the symbol there.
But technically, Merle isn’t a real person; AMC, on the other hand, is very real — and it left those symbols on the bike of a major character all the way through season 3. Then, once AMC realized how disastrous this logo could become as they made Daryl’s character became more popular and more important to the show, they just quietly got rid of the logo between seasons. It disappeared from episodes, toys; and the show toned down its racism in future seasons. But there was never any serious reckoning; and with The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon invoking an uncritical, apolitical image of the French Resistance against Nazi rule, there probably still won’t be.
So those are the 10 things AMC would like you to forget about Daryl Dixon. Do you agree? Let me know in the comments section, and if you think I left anything out, let me know that as well. If you want to check out other content on The Walking Dead, click here.