Daryl Dixon has become a fan-favorite character on AMC’s The Walking Dead, but he was originally supposed to be a character not many fans would have liked.
According to a recent interview with Daryl actor Norman Reedus, the early drafts of the series featured a racist, drug-abusing take on the character who has become an icon within the series, earning an “If Daryl Dies We Riot” creed among fans. As it turns out, Reedus fought those aspects of the character which would have made him similar to his brother Merle.
“There were always scripts that had him taking drugs and being racist, like his brother was,” Reedus said. “I fought to change those because I felt he should be more of an Al-Anon member and not a full-blown Alcoholics Anonymous member. 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 talks to you like this [facing front], like he means everything he says. He’s super direct, super honest and you can count on him.”
In The Walking Dead’s Season One episodes, Daryl did distance himself from the group and offer disrespectful remarks, but he never crossed the line into racist territory. Since those
Since those early episodes, Daryl has evolved in the apocalypse and become an integral part of the family of survivors. Now he’s a leader and he calls the shots with Rick. Rick’s the brother that Merle never was. It’s a strange how it’s made Daryl a better person. “When you first see him, he’s such an angry guy,” Reedus said. “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,” Reedus points out. “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.”