The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman has -- not for the first time or the last -- teased fans with the prospect of killing off Daryl Dixon in the upcoming fifth season of AMC's TV adaptation of his hit comic book series.
"There's a lot going on with Terminus," Kirkman told EW. "In our premiere episode of season 5 we're going to give a ton of answers of who the people of Terminus are, what they're doing, why they're doing it, what's going on with them. And by the end of that episode you're going to have a much better understanding of what's going on with them and why they're so important to the show. Oh, and Daryl dies."
While it's pretty clear that he's joking about the death of a major character, this isn't the first time he's singled out Norman Reedus' character for this kind of conversation.
The show often diverges from the comics, but most characters die roughly when and how they're "supposed to." The trick? One of the show's most popular characters -- Daryl -- doesn't appear in the comics, making his entire character arc difficult to predict.
The fact that he's become so wildly popular, and that Reedus has built up such a rabid base of vocal fans ("If Daryl dies, we riot") has led Kirkman to say in the past that if the character were to die, it would be the fault of the fans.
"I get a lot of hate mail every time I kill anybody in the comic, which always aggravates me becuase it's like, 'It's been a hundred issues! Don't know how this is by now? What are you doing?'" Kirkman told reporters assembeld after AMC's The Walking Dead panel at San Diego Comic Con International last year. "But specifically about the Daryl thing – that fan reaction is going to get him killed. I feel like it's a dare. Like, 'Oh, really? You're gonna riot? We'll see…we'll see.' No one is safe."
Back in March, he reiterated the message. Asked only whether popular characters are less likely to die than unpopular ones, Kirkman answered, "In my opinion, I feel like characters ripen like fruit. So while I wouldn't say the more popular a character is the more likely they are to die, they do have to reach a certain level of popularity before they've 'earned' the death."
He added, "No character is too popular to die. (Suck it, Reedus!)"
The most popular theory about the Termites are that they're cannibals, playing off The Hunters from the comics or the dairy farmers from the Telltale Games video game series. Other theories -- particularly because they seem to have had a serious loss in their fairly recent past -- include that they have been the victims of cannibals, or that their group had run afoul of Woodbury at some point in the past.