‘The Walking Dead’: Norman Reedus Recalls The Evolution Of Daryl Dixon’s Persona [Opinion]

All The Walking Dead’s surviving characters have grown and changed through the course of the last seven seasons, but none more than Daryl Dixon. Norman Reedus’ Daryl was never in the comics, and perhaps that’s why Dixon has added a different dimension to TWD.

Norman Reedus’ portrayal of Daryl Dixon has made him a fan favorite on The Walking Dead, but it’s tough to recall Dixon’s early days in Season 1. So much has changed. Norman Reedus has fought for Daryl Dixon. He has argued with script writers to hone Daryl into the man he has become.

The Walking Dead writers had at first envisioned Daryl Dixon as a villain, perhaps because Norman Reedus has portrayed so many villains in horror movies, but Norman Reedus did not want that for Daryl.

Norman Reedus told CNET in the video below, he “fought to change” The Walking Dead scripts to make Daryl Dixon grow into the person he is now. Norman is quoted on Express.

“When you first see him, he’s such an angry guy. He basically would’ve turned into his brother. But he’s found a sense of self-worth through these people that he would’ve never hung out with before. Now that group relies on him.”

On The Walking Dead’s first season, Daryl Dixon had an older brother named Merle Dixon, portrayed by Michael Rooker. Rooker portrayed a tough and hardened biker, rough and a bit of a bully. Merle definitely lacked people skills, but he was a skilled survivor like Daryl.

The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon has provided a strong role model for masculinity, mostly because Norman Reedus doesn’t portray Daryl Dixon as a flat two-dimensional tough guy, as the script writers had apparently planned.

Norman Reedus has masterfully crafted Daryl Dixon’s character to reflect one of the most powerful personas on The Walking Dead. Dixon is a complex mixture, at once realistic and larger than life. Daryl Dixon is hardened, rugged and manly, yet he has a gentle, tender, heartwarming side that the writers never planned on.

Norman Reedus explained how Daryl wasn’t bad, he just had low self-esteem. Daryl Dixon wasn’t comfortable with himself in the first season of The Walking Dead.

“I mean, he started out like, ‘Don’t look at me, don’t look at me.’ He had a chip on his shoulder like he wasn’t comfortable being him.”

The Walking Dead writers had Daryl Dixon figured as a hopeless substance abuser with little self-control. They also saw him as a racist. It was a horrible stereotype and Norman Reedus was right not to perpetuate that.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon Season 7, Episode 10
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon Season 7, Episode 10 Gene Page AMC

Norman Reedus is quoted on Express explaining how Daryl Dixon’s role on The Walking Dead was changed from a substance abusing racist to a powerful hero.

“There was always scripts that had him taking drugs and being racist like his brother was. I fought to change those because I felt he should be more an Al-Anon member and not a full-blown Alcoholics Anonymous member.”

Daryl Dixon of The Walking Dead wanted to change who he was and he did, with a little help from Norman Reedus, as Reedus explains.

“He should have grown up with it, felt ashamed of it, and wasn’t comfortable with who he was. That allows him to grow into somebody you respect. Now he’s a leader and he calls the shots with Rick. Rick’s the brother that Merle never was.”

As Norman Reedus points out, Daryl Dixon has grown into someone fans respect. The Walking Dead cast of characters could hardly survive without Daryl Dixon, and that much is obvious even to the most casual viewers of The Walking Dead.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
Norman Reedus as Daryl DixonFrank Ockenfels 3 AMC

The Walking Dead is based on a comic book, but writers have had to grow as well as they adapt the graphic novel to television. Most of the characters that survived long enough to become popular have had to work to become more three dimensional and complex.

Norman Reedus saved Daryl Dixon from becoming a stereotype on The Walking Dead and helped him become a larger than life role model and a fine example of what it means to be a real man.


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Norman Reedus has become The Walking Dead fan favorite as Daryl Dixon.

[Featured Image by Gene Page/AMC]