Mar 24 2013 11:30am

The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon: Romance Hero?

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in The Walking DeadWhen 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.

Daryl and Merle2. 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.)

Daryl and Carol in The Walking Dead3. 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?

Also: Motorcycle.

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.

Daryl and baby Judith in The Walking DeadMost 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.

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Eleri Stone
1. Eleri Stone
I love Daryl! I actually hope that they DON'T introduce a romantic interest for him. I kind of like that he's all potential. Lots and lots of potential.
Heather Waters
3. HeatherWaters
Daryl is probably the biggest reason I got back into The Walking Dead. He's easily my favorite character and definitely has the potential to be a romance hero if they go that direction. Great post, Chelsea!
Eleri Stone
4. CindyS
Love Daryl but I really thought he met his match with Carol - the writer's just don't seem to go there. I think he always had a big heart - I remember when T-Bone was really sick and Daryl had antibiotics and he was all 'why didn't you just ask?'. Once he was away from his overbearing brother he was able to step up and show the type of man he really is. We'll see what happens now that his brother is back on the scene.


Eleri Stone
5. Midnyte Reader
Plus he's just wicked handsome!
Eleri Stone
6. Dr.Opossum
Three things about Daryl:
1. He had a wonderful scene at the end of tonight's episode - really sad and some fine acting from Reedus.
2. I think the writers are stuck regarding Daryl's love life. There's a group of fans who really like him with Carol (I do!), but another group that either hopes for another match or finds Carol too old or plain for him. I could easily see Daryl committing to Carol and then killing her off, so perhaps the delay is good.
3. Daryl is the only major WD character with no comic book counterpart. It makes him more fun - anything can happen with him.
Eleri Stone
7. Pandora
I also believe he has already found his herione. Carol. I love those two together when the writers actually put them on the screen together. And how torn up (in a very Daryl way) he was when he thought she was dead. Him stabbing the floor with her knife and how angry he was said it all to me.
Eleri Stone
8. Rinda Elliott
This is spot on. Daryl is such a fantastic character. Personally, I'd love to see a romance bloom with Carol. I don't think there's a plain thing about her. She's grown as a character so much in the series. I saw a remark on another site about her having gray hair, being older and I cracked up. I started graying in my twenties-like most women in my family. And let's face it, would coloring our hair really be a big concern in an apocalypse. There's a bond between them that's pretty damned sweet. So yeah, Daryl fan here.
9. ChelseaMueller
Love to see all the pro-Carol comments. I think they understand each other in a way others don't, which is why we haven't seen a relationship progress with them. Daryl is clearly shy about opening up, and it's less likely he's all that experienced with the ladies. (Though we can dream.) Carol doesn't push him, which is smart. Plus, nothing wrong with a slow burn.

@Dr.Opposum - Reedus was phenomenal in that scene last night. Just... heartrending.
romance reader
10. bookstorecat
I love Daryl, and although I like Carol and wish she had a bigger part in the show sometimes, I think if the attraction were mutual, something would have happened by now. Personally, I have wondered in the past if Daryl might be gay. I also kind of hope he is, because so far there are, what, just NO gay people after the Zompocalypse? That's just wrong.
Eleri Stone
11. Bella kitty
I love him. Every once in awhile a character comes along that hits all the right points and I would have to say Daryl has them all. Bad boy good looking, protective, deadly, soft hearted, and a killer bod. I would have to say if he pulled up on his bike I would jump right on.
Eleri Stone
12. DianeN
Reportedly Norman Reedus is on board with Daryl and Carol getting together, so that's gotta be a good sign, right? The idea was even mentioned on last week's Talking Dead. Since Norman is guesting on that show after the season finale Sunday, maybe someone will ask him about it. It would be more than fine with me--in fact, for most of this season I kinda assumed that the two of them were already together, but with all the zombie killing and stuff keeping everyone busy it happened off screen! That's absolutely how I'd write it. I'd have the some of the other characters asking both Daryl and Carol if they were ever going to do something about their feelings for each other only to find out that they did the deed a year ago and everything is just fine, thank you very much!!

I love the show despite the fact that no character is guaranteed to stay alive. I'm actually okay with that, but I agree with Entertainment Weekly that Daryl is the one character who HAS to survive. Without him there's just no hope...
Eleri Stone
13. Creech6317
Norman Reedus was the main reason I kept watching The Walking Dead at first. I am a fan of his from the Boondock Saint's movies. when I saw he was on the Walking Dead I had to watch, and I am so glad I did. He is just about my idea of a perfect man.
Eleri Stone
14. tonidh69
Love Daryl! And I love him with Carol. She is as much a survivor as he is and they have both lost so much in this time. I think they are perfect for each other. I love all the other characters...maybe not Andrea, but EW did have it right when they said, kill whoever you want...just not this guy, with a pic of Daryl. I'm always disappointed when Daryl is not in the episode. More Daryl, and I'd like to see more Michon too. It's waaaay too long between seasons. At least I will have True Blood in between!
Eleri Stone
15. amde
Absolutely not Carol. She is so bland and such a milksop. She's like his mother. The sort of person you would go to if you need your underwear darned. And that's the bad arse version of her. She would match Hershel, they're both basically wimps. She's nice and sweet and completely lacking in any romantic heroine appeal.

There are no decent female matches for Daryl, we need fresh blood. The blonde girl is so forgettable I can't even remember her character's name. Michonne is interesting but they would be horrible together.

And some possessiveness is just fine in a man so long as it doesn't get out of hand, and yes Alpha males usually do show that trait, all males and females do in fact. As would Daryl if he ever finds someone he really cares for. If a man or a woman shows zero jealousy/possessivenesss, it means they don't care.

Yep, not PC, tough biccies, still true.
Eleri Stone
16. parawriter
I think any love interest for him is dependent on who lives/dies this Sunday night in the season finale. 27 Characters will perish in this upcoming episode, so they can't exactly pair him off at this point! Lots of seasons to come, anyway, with so many issues of the comics and more being written! Love me some Norman Reedus!
Eleri Stone
17. epiphany
I like Carol, and while I think she is attracted to Daryl on some level, their relationship is more brother and sister than romantic. Daryl and Beth is just a silly idea. I don't even know that I like the idea of Daryl actually with somebody - he's almost hotter as a romantic theory. If they do decide to fix him up, I see him with someone we haven't met yet; a woman, not an insipid girl like Beth, but one with more life and fire than Carol, a woman who can kick ass, but is really feminine, with a twinkle in her eye and a great sense of humor who can get Daryl to laugh at himself.
18. nihcki
I adore Darryl but have never wanted him with Carol. I'm in a tiny, silent minority I know. Personally, I want to see Darryl hook up with Aaron or Spencer. We need a little M/M, gay-for-you type of romance on TV. And Aaron's BF barely exists in the background; what's his name again? Carol is too "old" I guess you'd say, (coming from someone "old" herself), too mentally mature for Darryl, who is still an orphan at heart, IMO. Carol with that Alexandrite is simply ridiculous, as is her departure from Alexandria on the latest episode. Th characters are all changing personalities and acting extremely stupid in recent episodes too. Darryl in a romance, preferably a M/M romance, would rejuvenate the show a great deal.
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