Potential spoilers below for The Walking Dead Season 7.
The Walking Dead will open up the world for its survivors in Season 7, which will assumedly allow showrunner Scott Gimple and his creative team to create stories that weren't in the source material in a more organic way that doesn't involve major switcheroos between characters. But there will still be the need to change things up to keep readers on their toes, and that is possibly what will happen with Daryl going forward, as he might take on aspects of Carl's comic arc, at least where big bad Negan is concerned.
Without getting into major details, Negan's arrival in the comics also ushered in a new era of Carl Grimes, one in which the character achieved maturity in quite the exciting way, and a lot of that had to do with the strange relationship he developed with Negan. So we expected to see quite a bit of that same dynamic in Season 7, but recent set photos and filming rumors have placed Daryl and Negan together in the early episodes. Considering Carl and Negan first butted heads very soon after Lucille's first big death, Daryl's presence at Negan's side indicates something far different is coming.
When Scott Gimple was asked if Daryl's arc is going to replace Carl's, here's what he told ComicBook.com.
Whether it's with Carl or not, I cannot say. I absolutely want to explore Negan having that strange respect for someone which I think was the hallmark of that relationship and we'll tell versions of that story.
What's somewhat troubling about that particular string of words is that Negan's respect for someone else was only half of what made that particular story angle great. Sure, it was definitely cool to see a different and somewhat sympathetic side of Negan not long after he'd come in and changed everything up. But that was also how Carl went from angst-ridden teenager to a courageous young adult, and that side of things cannot possibly happen with Daryl, or really anyone else besides Enid. (Speaking of, Carl and Enid have reportedly been filming scenes together, which strengthens the belief that Carl's story is being fractured.) But I could definitely see Negan sharing this sentiment with just about anyone in Rick's crew.
Plus, Daryl is hurt, so I hardly think he's going to go after Negan the way Carl did in the comics, so this might happen in a different way, with Negan taking Daryl captive and the two hitting it off in that way. Or maybe Negan and Daryl just straight hate each other and Negan does eventually strike up a kinship with Carl in another set of circumstances. Or maybe Daryl got killed by Negan in the opening and his ghost is going to follow the antagonist around. I guess anything could happen still. There have been tons of changes from the comics, both successful and not, so I'll hold out judgment until we see how this all plays out.
The Walking Dead will return to AMC this October for another season of wild deaths and fan outrage. To find out what you can expect from the show, check out our Season 7 guide, and take a peek at our summer TV preview and our fall TV schedule to find out what you can watch in the meantime.