When a week goes by without Daryl Dixon making an appearance on AMC’s The Walking Dead, there is a Twitter outcry. It isn’t just that viewers connect with his transformation from quiet loner into subtle leader. There is this undercurrent of fandom for Daryl. Yes, we’d like the redneck to be there when the zombies come, but the discussion of Daryl’s winning qualities never fails to shift to how he is “Gas Station Hot” (you can thank author Dakota Cassidy for that term).
That’s right. We swoon for Daryl. In this post-apocalyptic drama Daryl isn’t just the hero, he’s a romance hero. He just hasn’t met his heroine yet.
Don’t believe me? There are five defining traits that make Daryl Dixon a must-lust-after romance hero.
1. He’s lethal.
We like a hero who can get protective. Just think about every member of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. They kill to protect what’s theirs. In the BDB case, it’s lessers. Daryl would stop zombies from trying to eat your brain or maniacal wannabe politicians from taking over your house, er, prison.
Daryl can keep you safe. Not only can he shoot a walker with an arrow via crossbow (and reuses it) or bust out a blade when necessary, he’s incredibly resourceful. He’ll stop whatever’s trying to attack you with extreme force.
What makes it even better is while Daryl has the protective streak we adore, and it doesn’t appear to be coupled with the possessiveness we get from so many alpha heroes.
2. He’s loyal.
Whether by blood or by circumstance, if you become Daryl’s family, he’ll stick with you until the end. We’ve watched him put his life on the line over and over for others within Rick’s group. He’s saved their lives repeatedly. He spent weeks searching the woods for Sophia in Season 2, because Carol needed him to search for her. He needed her to still be there. He wasn’t willing to leave her behind.
Now his brother Merle is back and he’s not giving up on him, even if he’s a huge problem to the group. Daryl doesn’t cut and run on family. He wouldn’t disappear on his love, either. (Once we find him one.)
3. Bad boys are hot.
Daryl may be an integral part of the team now, but he’s still the rebel. Who doesn’t love a fighter spirit?
Make that: Motorcycle even when noise draws zombies, because he is badass enough to be comfortable with that.
4. He has a sweet side.
As much as we love a bad boy hero, we love him even more when he falls hard for the heroine. We love seeing the hyper-masculine hero become gentle and kind in the right moments. When it’s important, Daryl’s sweetness shines. He brought a Cherokee Rose to Carol, when they were still searching for her daughter.
Most recently every woman’s ovaries exploded when he held Rick’s newborn daughter and dubbed her “little ass-kicker.” The phrasing was rough around the edges and filled with sincerity. It was all Daryl.
5. Those arms.
We like hot guys as heroes. We like them strong, too. Let’s be honest, you could stare at actor Norman Reedus’s arms for days and still be pleased. The man with a crossbow is hot for all the reasons above, but Daryl gets elevated to romance-hero hot when he does it without sleeves. Upper arms for the win, ladies. For. The. Win.
While Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club, she won’t turn down a sexy werewolf, demon or faerie. Her appreciation of Alexander Skarsgard is well documented. Bother her on Twitter — @ChelseaVBC — she likes it.