The Walking Dead: Is Daryl Really A Necessary Character?

Since The Walking Dead premiered in 2010, fans of the comics have always argued about the changes [...]

Since The Walking Dead premiered in 2010, fans of the comics have always argued about the changes the show has made. Was killing Andrea necessary? Was letting Carol live a mistake?

Amidst all these questions, one of the biggest changes from the books has been completely ignored. One vital character on the show is completely absent from the comic series. The success of the comics is unparalleled, so the question remains:

Is Daryl really a necessary character?

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(Photo: AMC)

That question may come as a shock to most fans, as the character is a favorite among many. Daryl has played a large part in Rick's story since season one, but is no where to be found in the comics.

The addition of Daryl to the series definitely makes sense from a production standpoint. Instead of giving multiple characters scenes where they lose their composure, that conflict falls on Daryl's shoulders. Shane was able to share the load, but he wasn't around long.

By adding Daryl to the roster, the show also gained the popular story of Merle and his betrayal. Having the ability to explore the violent tendencies of rebellious brothers was an exciting dynamic that the books were missing.


The series was also able to benefit from the casting of Norman Reedus.

Due to his leading role in The Boondock Saints, Reedus gained cult-film star status. In addition to casual fans recognizing his face, Norman showed up to The Walking Dead with passionate followers who were willing to watch anything he was a part of.

On the flip-side, the comics have never needed a character like Daryl.

Considered one of the most successful comics in the modern age, The Walking Dead has been running steadily for 13 years. This is one of the longest-running stories in recent comic history.

The books have been praised for their character study of Rick Grimes, and the unique ways a diverse group of people respond to disaster and loss. This causes characters to be unpredictable at times, and the addition of Daryl could distract from that.

Instead of watching several group members react out-of-character, the show has Daryl to fill that role. Rather than Michonne losing her mind for a moment, or Rick throwing a fit instead of staying patient, the series has a resident hot-head that can do it for them.

TWD Daryl Kill

This character is missing from the books, but that only adds to the situation. Since their world is unpredictable, is makes sense for many characters to be the same.

While the tactic of adding the volatile biker seems like it would help characterization, it may actually hurt it.

Just like DC Comics did with Harley Quinn, and Lost did with Charlie, The Walking Dead now has the unpredictability stuffed into one character. It keeps their outbursts and oddities from being crazy or out of left field. Instead, we have come to expect it from them.

So, why add Daryl to the mix?

There have been arguments for, and against, the decision, but they haven't accounted for one thing.

Fans love Daryl.

TWD Denise Hug

He may not be necessary, but Daryl has become a vital piece that audiences have come to love. Brandon Davis, The Walking Dead Insider at, had a very similar opinion of the character.

"Obviously, Daryl is a character The Walking Dead comic has operated without just fine from its start. That said, he has been an integral part of the TV show from both a fan and plot perspective. Not only does Norman's take on the character influence others and spark evolutions in other favorites such as Carol but his interactions with fans always make for memorable stories and further people's love for the show. Could it work without him? Sure. But it's better to have him."

Whether or not the show needed add Daryl into the mix, we sure are glad they did. He's a character fans love to watch, and the show wouldn't be the same without him. At this point, even if you've read the comics, it's hard to imagine The Walking Dead without Daryl Dixon.

Like the t-shirts say, "If Daryl Dies, We Riot." Wouldn't you?

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The Walking Dead returns for its seventh season on October 23, 2016 on AMC at 9 p.m. ET.

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