Andrew Lincoln Explains the Strained Rick/Daryl Relationship in ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 9

Andrew Lincoln has detailed the psychology behind the strained relationship between his Rick Grimes and former right-hand man Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead Season Nine.

“The relationship with Rick and Daryl is strained, and it is the beginning of a bigger problem between the two men, and different ideologies,” Lincoln told Talking Dead.

“Rick is the long game — ‘If we’re really going to survive and have longevity and a future, we have to think above ourselves.’ And Daryl is the opposite. He’s going, ‘No. It was great when we were the most powerful and the strongest when it was just us.’ And he’s like, ‘Forget about these other guys, they’re not worth it. They’re not good people. They’re never gonna come with us. They’re never gonna see it.’ One of the great strengths of Daryl is that he can read people extremely well, so Rick takes it seriously.”

Daryl, tasked with overseer duties at the Sanctuary, voiced his complaints with Rick and argued he’s better “out there,” free from the caged walls of the Saviors’ home. With resources growing more sparse by the day, Daryl advocated letting the Sanctuary fail and aired his issues with their friends being spread out through the communities, telling Rick “there ain’t no ‘us’ anymore.’”

“At the end of the conversation he says, ‘I want out, I’m not doing this anymore.’ I say, ‘You want to come back to us?’ He says, ‘No. I want to go with Maggie.’ Which is the biggest, most hurtful — and probably the first time that he’s said it out loud — that you’re wrong,” Lincoln said. “To side with her is basically saying, ‘You’re getting it wrong.’”

Daryl’s philosophies are now more in line with Hilltop leader Maggie’s, who tries to work hand-in-hand with the other communities but similarly takes issue with having to bail out their former enemies.

The distance has been growing for some time and boiled over to a physical fight in Season Eight, and their relationship was strained further when Rick made the unilateral decision to spare the life of defeated Savior leader Negan. 18 months later, and the fracture has worsened — but is not yet irreparable.

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“There’s definitely a fracture in that bone, but it’s been a slow fracture for a while now. And it’s sort of built up to a tension,” Daryl Dixon star Norman Reedus told EW. “The interesting part about that is, that fracture and that bone that’s been slightly breaking for a long time, when it snaps, it actually opens up the doors to heal itself.”

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.