I don’t know if you know this, but I’m a bit of a The Walking Dead fan.
For years, I’ve seen the rise of hated characters, witnessed some absolutely heartbreaking deaths, and fell in love with all different kinds of zombie slayers. Now, in its eleventh and final season, I find myself looking back nostalgically on one of my personal favorite characters of the series - and someone that many other fans love - Daryl Dixon, played by Norman Reedus.
Hands down, the series original character blew up and sparked fans to say, “If Daryl Dies, We Riot,” and honestly, I can still see that happening to this day, considering he’s one of the only original characters from the first season still around, besides his bestie, Carol. But, we’re not here to talk about Carol today, we’re here to take a look back at Daryl Dixon’s best moments throughout The Walking Dead.
When Daryl Somehow Saved Himself In The Forest (Season 2, “Chupacabra”)
Let’s be honest - we all thought Daryl was sorta lowkey disgusting in this episode when he came back with a freaking necklace of walker ears around his neck - good lord, I’m gagging just thinking about it - but it was pretty badass in the Season 2 episode, “Chupacabra” when Daryl was able to somehow save himself after falling down into a ditch and falling on his own arrow. To fight through that pain is pretty damn incredible.
When Daryl Went Against Merle’s Words And Saved The Family On The Bridge (Season 3, “Home”)
At this point early in The Walking Dead, Daryl has become pretty close with Rick and co., but then of course, Merle, Daryl’s older brother who was still the biggest asshole alive, had to come back. However, even when Merle told Daryl to let a family die on a bridge in the Season 3 episode, “Home,” Daryl refused and saved them from walkers.
This just goes to show how far Daryl has come as a person from being an ignorant redneck in the first season to a genuinely good man now - albeit with some flaws. Of course, Michael Rooker as Merle in these scenes was great as well.
When He Blew Up A Tank With A Grenade (Season 4, “Too Far Gone”)
The Governor was certainly one of the best Walking Dead villains, and the war that took place at the prison in Season 4’s “Too Far Gone” is a tough one to beat. Somehow, Rick and co. make it out with few fatalities besides Hershel’s big death, thanks to their skilled fighting.
Daryl - being, well, Daryl - uses his own quick thinking when the Governor’s side brings a whole-ass tank. He throws a grenade into the shooter of the tank, and it blows up the tank from inside. Talk about quick thinking - and a badass way to take out the shooter.
And When He Head-Stomped One Of Those Claimers (Season 4, “A”)
I hated the Claimers. Like, with a damn passion, I thought they were so useless. But I will admit that in Season 4’s “A,” the way they are taken out is quite possibly one of my favorite villain kills ever on The Walking Dead.
While Rick is busy literally ripping out the jugular of the leader, Daryl takes it upon himself to free Carl from the man that was going to assault the boy and slam him into the ground - followed by a vicious head-stomp that the monster deserved. It was a tense scene and perfectly summed up that Daryl would never betray his family - and it doesn’t help that Rick says to Daryl not that long after, that he was his “brother.” The waterworks are already coming.
The Three-Headed Chain Kill (Season 5, “Conquer”)
The Season 5 finale of The Walking Dead, “Conquer,” had many important moments, including the return of Morgan, a character from Season 1, and Rick taking over as leader at Alexandria, but is it bad that one of the moments I remember the most was this walker kill?
Daryl and Aaron are out together and that ends with them discovering Morgan, but during this, they are overrun by walkers after setting off a trap. Using a discarded chain on the ground at one point, Daryl picks this up and swings, taking out the heads of three walkers at the same time.
Good lord. I remember my exact reaction when this happened back in 2015 and I’m pretty sure I almost fainted. One of the sickest zombie kills yet.
When He Took Out A Whole Slew Of Negan’s Men - With A Rocket Launcher (Season 6, “No Way Out”)
Come on, you cheered for it too. As unrealistic as it is, that moment was badass in “No Way Out” during Season 6 of The Walking Dead.
When Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham are stopped by a group of Saviors, one of them takes Daryl behind the truck to do a search, but he secretly kills the Saviors, grabs the RPG, and blows up the other Saviors in one fatal hit. It’s intense, explosive, and exactly what you would expect from someone like Daryl.
When He Never Knelt To Negan (Season 7, “The Cell”)
While Daryl and Negan work (begrudgingly) together now, in “The Cell,” during Season 7 of The Walking Dead, they were not buddy-buddy. After Glenn and Abraham’s death, Negan and the Saviors kidnap Daryl and bring him back to their complex, constantly torturing him.
However, even though Negan says all of it will end if Daryl just kneels to him and becomes one of them, Daryl refuses. While it’s not him beating someone down or killing a walker, it’s definitely one of his most badass moments for his resilience and dedication to Rick and his family.
When Daryl Killed Morales - No Questions Asked (Season 8, “Monsters”)
The return of Morales was unbelievably pointless, in my eyes, but I won’t deny that his kill in “Monsters” in Season 8 was great. Morales confronts Rick, revealing that he is working for Negan now and has lost everything, but even though Rick tries to appeal to the man again after parting ways all those years ago, Daryl comes outta nowhere and shoots the man.
Morales is dead in seconds, and even though Daryl recognizes him, he shows no remorse. That scene still sticks in my head as a moment where you know Daryl will literally do anything for Rick - but again, I still feel Morales could have been brought back in a much better way.
When Daryl (With Connie) Save Lydia And Henry From The Whisperers (Season 9, “Guardians”)
The Whisperer War in The Walking Dead was always going to be an all-out crazy fest, but even before the craziness started, we got great scenes like this. In the Season 9 episode, “Guardians,” Lydia and Henry are taken by the Whisperers, but Daryl and Connie, disguised as their enemy, come into their group and save them.
It’s tense, suspenseful, and the perfect way to show just how dangerous the Whisperers are through the eyes of Daryl and Connie, while they work together to get the kids back, somehow not getting killed in the process. It’s skillful, what they both did, and I am genuinely impressed. I could never do that and would probably scream from the walkers and ruin it all. I can at least enjoy it from my couch.
Daryl Vs. Beta (Season 9, “Chokepoint”)
This fight, oh my Gooooood.
I never thought I’d be a fan of Daryl wielding anything other than a crossbow but man I was a fan of this fight. Him with two knives, taking on Beta - who is freaking huge and utterly terrifying to me - was one of the best scenes this show has had in the last couple of seasons.
Beta, who works as Alpha’s right-hand man in The Walking Dead, is taking on Daryl in order to get back Lydia in Season 9’s “Chokepoint.” However, this fight ends with Daryl getting the upper hand and sneaking up on Beta, pushing him down an elevator shaft to his presumed death - until we see him later on.
And When Daryl Stabs Beta In The Eyes (Season 10, “A Certain Doom”)
We can’t forget when Daryl finally gets payback on Beta in The Walking Dead, during Season 10’s “finale” (before its extended six-episodes), “A Certain Doom.”
After Negan and Beta fight against each other in a whole herd of walkers, and it seems that Beta is going to get the upper hand, Daryl once again sneaks up behind him and this time, stabs Beta in both of his eyes, permanently blinding him.
This, in turn, leads to Beta getting killed by walkers as they start to consume his flesh while Daryl helps Negan get away, successfully ending the Whisperer war. It’s a moment that truly stands out above the rest and is the perfect ending for Beta. Gotta love it.
When Daryl Finally Dropped The Big F-Bomb (Season 11, “Trust”)
Last but not least, I have to put this in here for one of the latest episodes in The Walking Dead, Season 11's “Trust.”
Now that the Commonwealth storyline is fully happening, Daryl has been working with the military there, but when they decide to investigate Hilltop more after Maggie refuses them entry, Daryl won't let them harm his family at Hilltop, i.e. Maggie and crew, as well as Maggie’s son, Hershel, whom Lance (one of the leaders of Hilltop) talks to.
In a tense standoff following Elijah (one of the residents of Hilltop) confronting Lance, Daryl says to the Commonwealth leader, “You turned this place upside down and found nothing. So unless you want to die for nothing, you better drop the gun before something really f***ing bad happens.”
While the “f-bomb” has been featured in Blu-ray releases of the show, or in a muffled matter, it’s never been so openly said on the show until now (surprisingly). Honestly, it’s fitting as hell that Daryl, of all people, would be the one to say it. It’s certainly going to end up being one of the character’s most iconic lines yet.
With the show going on for nine more episode at the time of writing this, who knows if there will be any more crazy intense moments I’ll want to include on this list. Until then, I can at least sleep well at night knowing that Daryl is the most badass man on The Walking Dead, and I will die on that hill. I’m still in my own “If Daryl dies we riot” phase until this damn show ends.
Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!
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