The Walking Dead is entering its tenth season this year, and after that long on the air, obviously all of the characters that are left standing have evolved beyond anything that the audience could have ever expected. And after the exit of Rick Grimes last season, it would seem that Daryl Dixon has become the new male lead of the series.
Daryl started off the show as the unlikeliest of heroic leading men, but over the course of his character's evolution, he has transformed into a character that the fans adore and that is more than capable of carrying a lot of the show's load. Daryl has had a lot of ups and downs throughout the series, and there were undoubtedly times where many people thought he was completely irredeemable or thought that he was the best character on the show. So here are five times that Daryl Dixon was the best character on the show, and five times he was the worst.
10 Best: When He Saved The Family On The Bridge And Went Against Merle
If we're really being real here, Daryl Dixon at the beginning of The Walking Dead was a flaming bag of trash. He and his brother Merle were two of the least appealing characters in the entire crew of survivors, and it was hard to imagine that there was anything worthwhile about the younger Dixon.
But as time went on, he actually became a really wonderful person. And when Merle showed up, he seemed to be reverting back to his much less appealing version, however when they came across a family that was being attacked Daryl didn't hesitate to help them, and even held his brother at crossbow-point when Merle attempted to rob them.
9 Terrible: When He Made A Necklace Out Of Ears
When Sophia Peletier was lost, everyone in the group dealt with it in their own way, but for a hot minute there Daryl went completely nuts. After getting seriously injured and going on a hallucinatory journey, Daryl manages to battle his way back to the Greene farm, only to nearly get shot by Andrea when he finally returns.
However, in one particularly gross and confusing decision, Daryl decides to cut the ears off of the walkers that he encounters and he makes a necklace out of them. Presumably, he was doing this to look badass, but it was really just gross and bizarre.
8 Best: When He Never Kneeled
Everyone already had an inkling that Daryl was the toughest dude in the history of TWD, but he erased all doubt about that once Negan got his hands on him. Negan was very eager for Daryl to join his ranks, and he was going to torture Daryl into submission if Daryl wasn't going to join up willingly.
Daryl wrongfully blamed himself for Glenn's death, but that was his key motivation in never once giving in to Negan despite all of the suffering he endured and all of the relief that Negan offered. Who would have thought that Daryl simply saying his own name would be one of his most powerful moments as a character?
7 Terrible: When He Loses It On Carol After Sophia Dies
For most of season one, Daryl stuck with the rest of the group for the sake of survival, but it didn't seem like he had any emotional attachment or really any interest in any of them at all. But once Sophia wound up going missing Daryl started to actually get invested, and when everyone realized that Sophia was already dead it was a devastating blow for him.
And because he was an ignorant jerk with no emotional maturity and coping skills, he decided to completely unload on Carol and blame her for her own daughter's death as a way of dealing with the pain he couldn't handle.
6 Best: When He Saved Noah
Old Daryl definitely wouldn't have hesitated to beat the living hell out of Noah for leaving him and Carol with hardly any weapons or means of defense, that is if he didn't just straight up kill him. But in an interesting flip of the script, when Carol goes to shoot Noah Daryl redirects the gun to save Noah's life.
And when Carol admonishes him for the move, Daryl defends his decision by saying that he was just a kid. And of course, his decision to save him is ultimately rewarded when he realizes that Noah not only knows Beth, but he knows where to find her too.
5 Terrible: When He Left The Group For Merle
Granted Daryl and Merle had a somewhat complicated relationship, but the development that he got as a person due to his relationships with the group as well as how much everyone in the group really loved him should have stopped him for hitting the road with Merle as soon as he showed up again.
Oh yeah, and there was also the fact that the conflict between the group and the governor was heating up and guaranteed to reach a boiling point sooner or later. He's only one person, but he was one of their strongest people, and leaving the people who loved him when they really needed him was the wrong move. Thankfully he realized that eventually.
4 Best: When He Gave Carol A Cherokee Rose
Daryl Dixon is a character who is terrible at dealing with emotions and terrible at expressing himself, so when he tries to do both at the same time it's exponentially worse. And that's why Daryl's speech to Carol about the Cherokee rose was so incredibly moving.
Carol is obviously devastated when Sophia goes missing, and in Daryl's first genuine display of emotion he brings Carol a Cherokee rose and explains the mythology behind it. He then says that he believes that the rose is a sign for her daughter, and that she shouldn't give up hope. Carol cried, and so did we.
3 Terrible: When He Was A Racist, Ignorant Redneck
If you had told anyone at the start of TWD that Daryl would be a fan-favorite character, no one would have believed it. Because he was the rudest, most ignorant jerk in the group after Merle was gone. Thankfully, he softened up a bit as time went on, and the show put in a wonderful little Easter egg to demonstrate just how far he'd come.
Early on in the series, Daryl refers to Glenn as a "Chinaman", and Glenn responds by saying he's Korean. And then later on when Daryl takes off with Merle, Merle also refers to Glenn as a "Chinaman," and Daryl defensively retorts by informing Merle that he's Korean.
2 Best: When He Offered His Life In Exchange For Those He Loves
After the governor attacked the prison the entire group was split up and adrift. After losing touch with Beth, Daryl finds himself in the company of a very dangerous gang of dudes who live by a pretty brutal code. One of their own has been recently killed, and they're looking to find the killer.
Once they catch up with their quarry, Daryl realizes that Rick is the one who they're looking for, and they're about to kill Rick, Michonne, and Carl. So Daryl offers up his life in exchange for theirs. It was an incredibly touching moment, and luckily his offer was moot since the reunited squad promptly killed all of the evil dudes.
1 Terrible: When He Killed Children
One of the great mysteries in the latest season of The Walking Dead is why Michonne and Daryl have seemingly isolated themselves from everyone around them, and when that mystery is finally revealed it's easy to understand why they wanted to leave the world behind as much as possible.
After inviting a dangerous woman and her group of brainwashed kids into the community, they leave town and abscond with Judith. Daryl and Michonne hunt them down, and the kids try to kill them. And sadly it seems that their only option to save themselves is to kill these kids. Daryl clearly hates himself for it, but honestly, who wouldn't.