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Characters / The Walking Dead TV Show Daryl Dixon

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Daryl Dixon
"I ain't ever gonna kneel."
Portrayed by: Norman Reedus

"You want to know what I was before all this? I was nobody. Nothing."

An original character created for the show, Daryl Dixon is one of the Deuteragonist's of The Walking Dead with enough examples of tropes to necessitate his own page.

Daryl is one of two redneck brothers who joined the Atlanta camp with the initial intent of robbing them, but Daryl grew away from the negative tendencies of his abrasive elder brother Merle when he went missing. Daryl proved himself to be a loyal, hard-working man who goes more than the extra mile to help the group when they're in trouble. Daryl took it upon himself to lead the search for Sophia, earning Carol's friendship in the process, and ultimately became the group's second-in-command after Shane's death.


After the group moves into the prison, Merle resurfaced as the tyrannical Governor's lieutenant. Daryl was reunited with his during a raid on Woodbury, and decided to strike out with his brother when the group refused to accept him even after The Governor exiled him. Daryl realized where his true place was, and Merle was forced to accompany him to the prison anyway. Daryl tried his best to keep tabs on his reckless brother, and was forced to put him down when he sacrificed his life to attack The Governor's militia and reanimated.

After Rick stood down as leader, Daryl joined the governing council of the prison group, but returned from a supply run to find The Governor on their doorstep with an army. Daryl and Beth fled the destroyed prison together, and grew close until she was abducted by Grady Memorial Hospital. Daryl reunited with Rick and the group at Terminus, and also found Carol again after they escaped. However, a standoff with Grady Memorial ended with Beth dead, devastating Daryl for weeks. Daryl was an outsider at Alexandria until Aaron gave him a recruiting job for the safe-zone.


Daryl then lost his crossbow and bike to Dwight, a member of the Saviors, and formed a murderous rivalry with him as the groups began to clash. Though he expected to be killed as punishment and the fact that Negan overreacted to being punched by killing Glenn, someone who didn't even punch him, Daryl was horrified to see Glenn instead be murdered. Daryl was then taken hostage at the Sanctuary, tortured by Dwight for an extended period of time, but refused to bend and join the Saviors as Negan wished. Thanks to assistance from Sherry, Daryl was able to escape the Sanctuary and rejoin the group as they go to war with the Saviors. Daryl, not wanting to give the Saviors the chance to escape and kill more people, which was bound to happen anyways as Eugene was already working on a plan to get the Saviors out of the Sanctuary. At the end of the war, Daryl disagrees with Rick's hypocritical and controversial decision to keep Negan alive and helps Maggie get justice for Glenn.

Daryl and Merle are also the protagonists of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, a First-Person Shooter by Activision that tells the story of the brothers before they arrived at the Atlanta camp.

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    Tropes #-H 
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Daryl briefly loses the will to help others after failing to save Sophia. He goes back to his usual self once the situation escalates again. As detailed below, he usually lapses into this after the group takes a heavy loss.
  • Abusive Parents: Daryl was beaten and neglected as a child, to the point that his back is badly scarred as seen in "Home."
  • The Ace: He's pretty much the best overall fighter in the group, able to do anything that he needs to and is a force to be reckoned with. In Season 4, he takes down a tank alone.
  • Achilles in His Tent: After leaving the group in "The Suicide King", he spends most of "Home", away from them after leaving with Merle. He comes back.
  • Alliterative Name: His first and last name starts with a D.
  • The Aloner: He departs from Alexandria after Rick's apparent death and is shown living in the woods with only a dog for company.
  • The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People: At least it does once his brother is out of the picture.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Downplayed, as while the positives outweigh the negatives, Daryl's crossbow has its shortcomings. It needs a unique type of ammunition that only Daryl really knows how to make more of, and it's large and clunky as compared to Rick's personal Python which can be stored in his holster. Trying to pull out the clunky crossbow from a bag nearly costs Daryl his life in "Always Accountable". It was stolen by Dwight during the first half of Season 6 until Daryl got it back in "Twice as Far". Dwight stole it back again in "Last Day on Earth" after Daryl was taken prisoner by the Saviors.
    • His use of a motorcycle also counts. Sure he's a Badass Biker, but its engine is much louder than that of a normal car and it does leave him a bit more vulnerable to walkers and gunfire than he would be if he was in a car. According to Norman "it's good on gas and Daryl doesn't give a f***."
  • An Axe to Grind: He uses two axes at once in the Season 1 finale.
  • Anti-Hero: Daryl is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who will not hesitate to kill or delve into some morally grey areas for the good of the group, but is still a good man at his core.
  • Archer Archetype: We rarely see him use a weapon other than his crossbow. Until it is stolen in "Always Accountable." Then we see him with knives and guns.
  • Ascended Extra: Not as much as Carol, but it's easy to forget that Daryl was originally a supporting character intended to be killed off before becoming one of the main characters in Season 3, and eventually the main character in Season 9.
  • Automatic Crossbows: Averted. It can be difficult to spot, but Daryl does occasionally nock another bolt.
  • Badass Beard: Gets more noticeable after Season 1.
  • Badass Biker: Becomes one in late Season 1 and afterwards. Apparently the Cool Bike used to be Merle's, so he probably counts as one too.
  • Badass in Distress: See below, and also happens in the mid-season finale of Season 3 when he is captured in Woodbury.
  • Badass Boast: Gives a short but nevertheless effective one to Dwight and Sherry when they steal his bike and crossbow.
    Sherry: We're sorry.
    Daryl: You're gonna be.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: With Merle in "The Suicide King".
  • Battle Trophy: Daryl begins a collection by making a necklace of the ears of the zombies he killed while searching for Sophia, as an indication to himself how tough and strong he is. It might also have had the practical use of masking his living scent.
  • Bash Brothers: With Merle. Although not much seen, but they've already played these tropes when the apocalypse started. Since Season 3, Daryl is also Bash Brothers with Rick.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Never leave anybody behind on his watch. This issue is mostly because his brother Merle was left on a roof so Daryl commits to always save anyone in the group that has been lost or been captured.
    • Endangering his group in any way shape or form is a good way to get under his skin. As this happens Daryl becomes more willing to kill than Rick is.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: While Daryl never turns into a antagonist he does become vengeful after his time of being tortured mentally by the Saviors, which causes him to go against Rick's orders and become a rogue.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • After season 1, he mellowed out into a fairly decent guy who's committing to help everyone in the zombie apocalypse but he's still capable of getting pissed off in many ways.
    • In Indifference, when Daryl helps to fetch a supply of medicines stored at a nearby college for everyone suffering from pandemic flu at the prison, he discovered that Bob took a bottle of liquor instead of medicines inside his bag for a petty reason of drowning in sorrow and as he attempts to throw it away, Bob attempt to reach for his gun which Daryl quickly disarms him and threatens him that he will beat his ass if he takes one sip of it before the prisoners have medicines in time.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A few notable examples:
    • In the Season 2 opener, he saves T-Dog from becoming walker food by shooting the walker about to chomp on T-Dog and then dumping said walker's body on T-Dog to mask his scent.
    • Subverted late in Season 2 — he tackles down a walker that's about to eat Dale, but he's moments too late from saving him and he personally delivers the Mercy Kill as an apology.
    • Midlate in Season 3, he does it twice in one episode, once to save a group of Mexican strangers he didn't even know, and once to save Rick.
  • The Big Guy: Class 3. Becomes The Lancer after Shane is killed.
  • Breakout Character: Daryl is one of the most popular characters. He was promoted to the main cast in Season 2 and given an entire episode to show his badass credentials. In Season 3, he's become the second-in-command to Rick and runs the group when he's not available. By Season 4, he's probably the show's Deuteragonist and in Season 5 it's probably safe to say that he's one of few characters on this show with Plot Armor. He ends up taking over from Rick as the new lead of the show starting in Season 9.
  • Broken Ace: He is not the most well-adjusted individual.
  • Broken Tears: When finding his brother Merle as a Walker then Mercy Killing him.
  • Byronic Hero: He is cynical, determined, and brooding and also has a strict personal code with a lot of loyalty to his friends.
  • Canine Companion: He has a dog named Dog post-Time Skip after Rick's Disney Death in Season 9.
  • Canon Foreigner: Fans of the show may be surprised to find that he and his brother are nowhere to be seen in the comics.
  • Can't Stay Normal: Or at least what's normal for Daryl, in season nine following Rick's "death", he lives outside, just him and his dog (literally named Dog). After returning to Hilltop for what is supposed to be a brief return, events lead him to returning to his old life of dealing with new attackers.
  • Catch-Phrase: Some variation of "That ain't you/us/her."
  • Celibate Hero: Due to his abusive past, he has trouble with letting people get close or touching him. When Carol starts joking about the two of them having sex he gets real quiet and asks her to stop.
  • Character Development: Daryl is one of the characters who has changed the most out of the cast, highlighted in the episode "Home", where his new personality clashes with Merle's outdated perception of him. While Daryl was originally a mildly racist, belligerent redneck who only looked out for himself and his brother, as Merle dominated him through mild psychological bullying, Daryl chooses Rick's group over Merle in the episode. He's now a brave, compassionate and stronger man, who has bypassed Merle and can see his flaws. He hasn't completely left his old Hot-Blooded ways behind, just tempered them with something that looks suspiciously like maturity and civility.
  • Character Tics: He bites his thumb when he's apprehensive, such as when he waited in the hall while Andrea shot herself.
  • Combat, Diplomacy, Stealth: Fills the Combat role, with Rick commanding Diplomacy, and Glenn handling Stealth.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Daryl at one point uses a Walker's head as a melee weapon while desperate.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Brought to the fore in "The Suicide King", when he's forced to choose between Rick's group and his brother Merle, and ends up going with the latter. Then in "Home", he decides that Rick's group is his real family and goes back to them, with Merle reluctantly being forced to follow.
  • Covered with Scars: Seen in the episode "Chupacabra". Norman Reedus states they're from Daryl's childhood abuse. "Home" confirms that both he and Merle were physically abused by their father.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Explored in "Home".
  • A Day in the Limelight: Season 2's "Chupacabra", Season 3's "Home" (shared with his brother), Season 4's "Still" (shared with Beth), Season 5's "Consumed" (shared with Carol), and Season 6's "Always Accountable" (shared with Sasha and Abraham).
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • When Jenner gives a pretty damn bleak exposition about the walker virus and how a person reanimates, Daryl mutters, "Damn I'm about to go get shit-faced again."
    • After a walker growls at him, he replies with a crossbow bolt through the head and "Shut up".
    • Instead of asking for help while he's bleeding from one of his own arrows on his way back to Hershel's farm, he simply notes to Rick that this is the third time Rick has pulled a gun on him at this point and then asked if Rick would pull the trigger this time. He is then shot by Andrea, who doesn't know it's him from afar. The bullet just barely grazes his head. Most would be unconscious or just plain dead, but Daryl, being... Daryl, still manages to mutter as the others pick him up, "I was kidding."
    • When the group elects to leave their temporary base in a barn to go to Alexandria with Aaron, despite Rick's reservations, Daryl agrees, as "this barn smells like horse shit."
  • Decomposite Character: While pretty much still a Canon Foreigner, he filled in most of Tyreese's role in the first two and a half seasons, specifically The Lancer (after Shane's death) and his close relationship with Carol. At the beginning of Season 9, he fills Dwight’s role as the new leader of the Saviors who abdicates the post, since he personally had TV! Dwight Put on a Bus.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Initially hostile to everyone else in the group, he slowly grows closer to each group member and becomes loyal to them. History repeats itself when the crew move into Alexandria, where Daryl is clearly uncomfortable with this new lifestyle. Aaron (and a little bit of Eric) eventually get him to warm up again by the end of "Forget" saying that Daryl knows the difference between a good person and a bad person and appoint him the new recruiter of the safe zone.
  • Determinator:
    • Even after being stabbed in the side by one of his crossbow bolts following being tossed from a spooked horse down into a ravine, he still manages to make it back to the camp on his own.
    • After running all day, he spent an entire night up to keep watch for walkers while inside a car's trunk.
  • Deuteragonist: Begins occupying this role from the third season onward, and later begins sharing it with Carol.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The crossbow can actually be harder to aim with and use than a conventional gun, but mastering it offers Daryl a lot of advantages. He can both hunt food for the group and silently stealth kill any Walkers he encounters without bringing a dozen more down on his head. In addition, to overcome its low ammunition limitations, Daryl has learned to always retrieve bolts, and even knows how to make new ones if he needs to.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: After the group finds and shoots the undead Sophia, Daryl separates himself from the others in frustration. Carol, who knew how hard Daryl searched for Sophia, tells him he can't just shut the others out and that the group needs him. Daryl angrily tells her that he was better off on his own to begin with, that Sophia wasn't his problem, and that he doesn't need her to try and take care of him. Knowing that this is Daryl's way of handling what happened, Carol stands there and lets him vent as long as he needs.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: His subdued reaction to killing Morales indicates he wasn’t pleased that one of their former allies became an enemy, and takes no pleasure in executing him.
  • Failure Knight: Daryl has a tendency to blame himself for almost any tragedy that befalls the group. Word of God says that he officially feels that he's this after Beth was killed.
  • Fish out of Water: To say that Daryl doesn't fit in well at Alexandria is an understatement.
  • Friend to All Children: Willing to look for Sophia in Season 2, bonds with Carl, and cares for the new born Judith Grimes and even calls her Little Asskicker. His main reason for saving a random Mexican family in Season 3 is that he could hear their crying baby. In Season 5, despite being extremely against the new posh lifestyle of Alexandria, he admits that it's good that the group has come because Carl and Judith deserve a roof over their heads. In Season 8, when the Alexandrians are holed up in the sewers, he personally takes Judith in his arms to hold her like his own daughter.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Well, not all the time.
  • Guilt Complex: It's revealed in "Still" that he feels responsible for Hershel's death and the destruction of the prison, as he gave up looking for the Governor and later talked Michonne into doing the same. Sophia's name also comes up.
  • Gut Feeling: He's typically very good at judging character. It's stated by Aaron to be one of Daryl's most invaluable qualities.
  • Guttural Growler: Daryl's voice is very gravely and raspy, especially when he gets angry.
  • Hallucinations: After two falls down a riverbank and a pretty severe injury, Daryl starts having hallucinations about his brother Merle - mocking him and egging him on to survive.
  • Handicapped Badass: Or, in this case, an injured one. After being badly injured after a fall and impaled on one of his own crossbow bolts, Daryl wakes up with a walker attempting to eat his (thankfully booted) foot. He kills it with a stick, and then pulls the aforementioned bolt out of his own body and uses it to shoot another.
  • Hates Being Touched:
    • Flinches back when Carol (probably the least threatening member of the group at the time) leans in to give him a motherly kiss on the forehead. Word of God states that he's "constantly expecting to be hit" due to his childhood abuse. A Call-Back in "Them" has Carol kiss his forehead again — Daryl lets her.
    • By Season 4, he is openly more physically affectionate with many people — including Rick, Carol, and Beth — and even around people he does not know very well.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • He shuts down almost completely for a time after the loss of the prison, hunting for food and killing walkers when necessary but mostly following Beth around and communicating in monosyllables. He eventually snaps out of it after getting into a drunken argument with Beth that leads to him breaking down and opening up to her, only to lapse into another one in the very next episode when Beth is kidnapped and he falls in with the Claimers.
    • He's going through another one in Season 7 after his actions inadvertently caused Glenn's death, though he's also doing it for his own safety and to prevent Negan from harming Rick and Co in Alexandria.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • He was prepared to perform one for Rick and the others, buying time to escape from Woodbury by laying down cover fire. He's subsequently captured by the end of the episode, but is rescued in the next one.
    • Another subversion in the Season 5 finale, when he prepares to fight through the walker herd alone to give Aaron an opening to escape. Fortunately, Morgan pulls off a Big Damn Heroes moment at that exact second, allowing them both to survive.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Rick starting Season 3. When Merle makes Daryl choose between his loyalty to his kin and his loyalty to Rick, Daryl chooses Rick, and in Season 4, Rick outright calls Daryl his "brother". In Season 7, following Daryl's escape from the Sanctuary, they share a hug. Even their brawl in Season 8 is really nothing more than a brotherly tussle, with neither taking it personally afterward and even apologizing to each other. When he believes that Rick has died in Season 9, he cries and walks off by himself afterward.
  • Hidden Depths: Shown to have this side to him in Season 2. He's the most confident that they will find Sophia alive and even comforts Carol. The Cherokee Rose scene won him a LOT of fans.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Daryl actually has a compassionate side to him, but on the rare occasion it is observed he will brush it off or try to change the subject.
  • Hot-Blooded: He learns to keep his temper in check by Season 3, to the point of having switched roles with Rick, who in Season 1 was calm and level-headed while Daryl was more unpredictable.
    • Season 4 shows that alcohol brings out Daryl's hot-blooded Jerkass side, to the point where he shouts quite loudly at Beth despite having walkers within earshot. Ironically in the first season, when the group indulged in some of Jenner's alcohol, he was one of the jolliest drunks in the group.
    • He still has his moments of weakness, however, such as when he attacks Negan for killing Abraham and taunting Rick and Co.
    Tropes I-P 
  • Iconic Item: His crossbow. Also his wing-embroidered vest.
  • The Idealist: Surprisingly; aside from Rick, he was the one who was the most confident they would find Sophia alive. Sadly, he was wrong.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: He blames himself for the death of Maggie's family which no one blames him for it but he clearly feels guilty about it since he wished he wouldn't have stopped looking for the Governor, Hershel would still be alive, if he had stayed by Beth's side she would've lived and finally if he hadn't punched Negan, Glenn would still live. Nobody thinks he is responsible but Daryl thinks he could've done more to keep them safe.
  • In Vino Veritas: A little moonshine helps Daryl let out all the frustration and anger he's been keeping inside.
  • It's Personal: Even after Dwight's Heel–Face Turn, Daryl is justifiably skeptical of him, thanks to Dwight having betrayed, shot, and tortured him, in that order, as well as his casual murder of Daryl's friend Denise. After the end of the Savior War, Daryl is willing to spare him due to Dwight genuinely repenting and feeling remorseful, but still exiles him (and tasks him to find Sherry in the process) and warns him to never return lest he be killed.
  • I Work Alone: Used to believe this, but grows used to working with the other survivors and in "This Sorrowful Life" he tells Merle that they can't survive without people anymore. Tends to slip back into this whenever something bad happens to someone in the group, most noticeably after Sophia, and later, Beth die.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: On Randall in "Judge, Jury, and Executioner".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A mildly racist redneck like his brother Merle, but he continually goes out of his way to help others in the group, such as helping Rick rescue Glenn from the Vatos, saving T-Dog's life several times, and even revealing Merle's secret drug stash when T-Dog gets a nasty infection. He also cares about finding Sophia far more than any of the other members of the group besides Carol. By the end of Season 2, he is firmly in this territory.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: He tearfully puts down the zombified Merle.
  • Knife Nut: Although his primary weapon is a crossbow, he is still capable with knives.
  • The Lancer: As tension between Rick and Shane rapidly escalates towards the end of Season 2, Daryl gradually becomes Rick's right-hand man. Following Shane's death, Daryl officially becomes this starting Season 3, before graduating to The Hero starting Season 9.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Since his arrows can be reused, he has quicker reload time than his allies. He is well adapted to close-range combat, too.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Daryl grew up having only himself to rely on, and as an adult prefers solitude. He also has a violent temper, and has some disconcerting hobbies, such as collecting pieces from his zombie kills.
  • Loner-Turned-Friend: For a long time, he alienated himself from the group and preferred avoiding human intimacy as much as possible. Eventually, he becomes one of the group's most loyal members.
  • Made of Iron. He falls down a steep slope and impales himself on one of his crossbow bolts. He then climbs up the slope, falls, then tries again, eventually limping back to camp, where not even being grazed on the head by a rifle shot keeps him down.
  • Manly Tears:
    • Some prominent examples were when he discovered Merle's Heroic Sacrifice and subsequent zombification, reuniting with Carol in the Season 5 premiere, and after Beth's death in "Coda".
    • He also has them when his outburst against Negan ends up costing Glenn his life. He has a full crying session two episodes later after Dwight presents him with a picture of Glenn's remains, and later breaks down apologizing to Maggie (who didn't blame him anyway).
    • He cries after Rick sacrifices himself to blow up a bridge full of walkers, though unbeknownst to him or anyone else, Rick survived.
  • Morality Pet: He is quite possibly the only person Merle cares about.
  • Multi-Ranged Master: While he's often seen with a crossbow, he also occasionally uses guns and knives.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Daryl has a look of pure horror on his face when Negan makes good on his word that he will "shut that shit down" after Daryl punches him in the face and he smashes Glenn's head in as punishment, just a few minutes after he killed Abraham.
  • Mythology Gag: He gets shot in the head in the same place Andrea was in the comics. Ironically this wound comes from Andrea herself.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: It's implied Daryl likes to keep his distance from others because he's afraid of the pain he'll feel should he lose them.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: He is triggered by Negan's abuse and manipulation of the group and punches Negan after he brutally beats Abraham to death with Lucille and taunts Rosita with the bloody bat. Negan's response? Not only does he punish Daryl by proceeding to beat Glenn's head in as well, but he's also impressed with Daryl's bravery and decides to force him to work for him.
  • The Nicknamer: Called Glenn Chinaman in Season 1 and coined Lori's newborn baby as "Little Asskicker" before being named Judith by Carl.
  • Noble Bigot: In the first two seasons. While no fan of Glenn or T-Dog, he won't stand by and withhold assistance if either one of them is in need, even if it means putting his life on the line. Used to demonstrate his character development in Season 3 when Merle calls Glenn Chinese. While Daryl had called Glenn a Chinaman in the past, this time he responds by telling Merle that Glenn is Korean.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: While going out of his way to search for a missing Sophia alone, Daryl ends up falling down a cliff twice, the initial fall causing one of his arrows to impale him, the second when he's trying to get back up. Then he is nearly eaten by walkers and when attempting to (successfully) climb back the second time, he had hallucinations of Merle mocking and berating him. Once he got back in the farm, his friends mistook him as a walker and was nearly killed when one of them (Andrea) shot him. This all happened in a single episode.
  • No-One Could Have Survived That: In Season 8, he is rather quickly confident that his plan to ram a truck into the Sanctuary successfully dealt a crippling blow to the Saviors. He even insists to the others that it worked despite not sticking around to watch it play out. Unfortunately, that night Alexandria learns the hard way that it didn’t work, and Daryl questions if he was responsible for the Saviors’ freedom (both Simon and Dwight confirm it was Eugene, though he only came up with the idea to escape after witnessing the Saviors fighting off Daryl’s walker invasion).
  • No One Gets Left Behind:
    • This is a big issue for him, possibly because of what happened to Merle. Whenever someone goes missing, he will be the first to volunteer to look for them. The only time he refused was shortly after the barn massacre and Sophia being found as a walker, as he was too torn up about his failure. He also is the most insistent on returning to search for Andrea when the farm is overrun and she is separated from the group. In Season 3, when Glenn and Maggie are kidnapped, he immediately volunteers to go after them.
    • He brings this up as a big reason for why he leaves the group in "The Suicide King". He isn't willing to abandon Merle a second time. However, he realizes that they parted ways in how they think a long time ago and decides to return to the group, followed in shock by his brother.
    • Despite his strong disapproval of Bob's actions in Season 4's "Indifference", Daryl doesn't even threaten to leave him behind.
    • Eventually subverted in "Too Far Gone", when he and Beth are forced to flee the prison without the others after the defenses are lost and the group is scattered during the final battle with the Governor.
  • No Social Skills: He's never been terribly good at interacting with others, but he slowly improves over the course of the series.
  • No Sympathy: When the group considers booting out the inmate survivors, Daryl compares himself to them, stating that while they're degenerates, they're not monsters. Regardless, he still thinks they should hit the road.
  • Not So Stoic: Daryl may be one of the toughest people around, but even he has his limits. He violently lurches when Negan strikes Abraham (and later Glenn) with Lucille, and in Season 9 is pretty understandably grossed out when Aaron’s left arm is mangled and painfully amputated.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • Most obviously with Rick, with whom Daryl was initially deeply at odds with. (What with the whole cop-who-left-my-brother-to-die thing going on.) By Season 4, Rick says Daryl is his brother.
    • With Carol, who becomes an important figure for him during Season 2 and beyond. Carol jokes about the idea of them being attracted to each other, and it's obvious that they're both devoted to each other, but beyond that, nothing definitive has been shown in canon.
    • Starting with "Still", he developed this with Beth, despite their outlooks and pre-apocalypse lives being complete polar opposites.
    • He also forms one with Aaron in "Forget" after the latter offers him a job as a recruiter for Alexandria.
    • He forms one, yet again, with Denise in the second half of season 6. She even tells Daryl that he reminds her of someone she used to know.
  • An Odd Place to Sleep: He at one point tries to sleep in a coffin, calling it the most comfortable bed he's had in years. He also initially refuses to sleep in a prison cell, choosing instead to sleep in the upstairs hall.
  • Out of Focus: He has a jarringly reduced role the first half of season six. It's not until the sixth episode of the season that he finally gets a starring role in an episode. He returns to the spotlight in the second half of the season.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Progressively starting Season 3. He even maintained it when he had the chance for a haircut during Season 5.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Almost never seen smiling.
  • Phrase-Catcher: A minor example. He gets called that "Robin Hood cat" on two separate occasions by unrelated characters: Tomas in Season 3 and Tony in Season 4.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: With Carol, beginning in Season 3. In Season 9, he tells her that he's happy for her and Ezekiel, and Henry mentions that Carol considers Daryl her best friend.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: At first, though he grows out of it, eventually counting an Asian man, a black woman, a gay man, and a lesbian among his best friends.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Beginning in Season 2.
  • Properly Paranoid: Daryl's skepticism of Rick's plan to surround the Sanctuary with walkers to make Negan surrender is not unjustifiable, considering that Rick's plans haven't always worked out in the past and that Zia's plan to lead the walkers away from the Sanctuary with a truck and speakers proves that the Saviors did have contingency plans for this kind of situation.
    Tropes R-Z 
  • Rated M for Manly: The show always find ways to highlight his badassery, such as taking out the crossbow impaled to him or destroying a tank by himself.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Before the apocalypse he was Blue to Merle's Red. During the apocalypse he is now Blue to Rick's Red.
  • Reformed, but Not Tamed: Daryl has since dropped his Jerkass and racist ways, but he's as easily riled up as ever.
  • Restrained Revenge: After spending the last two and a half seasons wanting to kill Dwight, Daryl mercifully exiles him instead, while also encouraging him to find Sherry.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: During the Savior War, this is Daryl’s approach to his enemies after enduring the loss of his friends, as well as torture and imprisonment.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Shown when he and Rick look for Sophia at the start of Season 2.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After he and Merle are rescued by Rick's group from Woodbury, Daryl abandons Rick and the group to stay with his brother. The next episode, he pulls this on Merle and heads back to the group, deciding that they are his real family. Merle is forced to follow along so he doesn't get left alone.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: His relationship with Merle has him as the one more willing to help out others without insisting on payment, which he gets called on by Merle.
  • Sherlock Scan: Twice. He figured out that Shane killed Otis due to the fact that Shane had Otis' gun when he supposedly did a Heroic Sacrifice, and the second time when he determined Shane killed Randall by noting their footprints were walking together, the tree which Shane banged his face against to make it seem like Randall had attacked him, and Randall's broken neck.
  • Ship Tease:
    • With Carol in the early seasons, until they settle into Platonic Life-Partners and Carol gets married to Ezekiel.
    • With Connie in Season 9. They make an effective team in searching for Henry and combating the Whisperers, and Daryl starts to noticeably soften when around her, asking her to take care of Dog for him and waving goodbye as he departs the Kingdom.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: His signature look, though he dons sleeves when winter blows through.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Daryl is a smoker, as seen in Season 3's "Arrow on the Doorpost", Season 4's "Indifference", and Season 5's "Them".
  • Suicide Is Shameful: Daryl has no sympathy for people who give up and take the easy way out (besides those who put themselves down before they can reanimate like the bitten Andrea).
  • Take Me Instead: Tries to do this in the Season 4 finale by offering his own life in exchange for the Marauders letting Rick, Carl, and Michonne go free. It doesn't work, as they just decide to kill him as well.
  • Think Nothing of It: When Carol thanks him for trying to save Sophia, he only responds by insisting Rick and Shane would have done the same. Likewise, when Carol notes his efforts to bring in refugees in S4, Daryl notes that Rick saved many as well. When Aaron reminds him of how he saved his group from a storm that eventually spawned a tornado, Daryl tries to shrug it off.
  • Token Good Teammate: When he joins the Claimers in Season 4.
  • Token White: In Season 4, he goes on a medicine retrieval arc being accompanied by Michonne, Bob, and Tyreese.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Daryl's Character Development since the first season is very evident, to say the least.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Daryl eventually receives ownership of Beth's knife after the latter is killed, keeping it at his side.
  • Troubled, but Cute: He grew up in a poor and abusive family, is kind of an aloof and brooding loner, as well as a tough and aggressive fighter, but is extremely loyal and caring towards the people who are close to him, and often shows his kind and vulnerable side. He becomes the show's Breakout Character, especially after his Character Development in season 2.
  • Unable to Cry: For a long time after Beth's death. After several weeks, while all alone, he finally cries.
  • Undying Loyalty: Towards Rick, from the end of Season 2 onwards. Even when Merle comes back into the picture in Season 3, Daryl ends up choosing Rick. Their relationship comes under some friction during Seasons 5 and 6 as Rick becomes more and more hostile and willing to go to extremes for the group. Daryl often ends up voting in favor of a more peaceful solution, such as during the standoff with Grady Memorial Hospital and Alexandria's recruiting campaign. Eventually, despite making it clear that he does not like some of Rick's orders, he confirms that he will always follow his lead no matter what. Unfortunately, their relationship takes a nosedive in Season 8 during the Savior War when the two men disagree over their next course of action. He even comes to blows with Rick when he's ordered to stop. The two men end up parting ways for a time due to being unable to cooperate,but reconcile in "The Key" with Daryl comforting Rick about Carl's death and Rick defending Daryl's actions at The Sanctuary. In Season 9, they once again clash over Rick’s mercy, but Daryl affirms that he would die for his brother. When Rick is apparently killed in the next episode, it's enough for Daryl to leave Alexandria and go off on his own.
  • Vocal Evolution: His voice is a lot less gravelly in the early seasons than it is from about Season 4 on.
  • Warrior Poet: In "Cherokee Rose", describing the myth about the plant.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Carol constantly reassures Daryl that he's more than just a killer, and has more good in him than he'd like to admit. Aaron also takes up this job when Daryl arrives in Alexandria.

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