That's right, I said it.
Alright, first off, if the above line truly upset you, then go ahead and just saunter on out of here now, because I'm pretty much going to spend the next few paragraphs explaining why America's newest darling needs to die. Preferably soon, if at all possible. I'm not really sure if anybody habitually reads this thing, honestly, beyond the random visit by someone who just so happens upon it, but if there is anybody out there who reads these little diatribes I like to put up, then I should probably tell you now that I do LIKE Daryl. In fact, one of my favorite things about him was the way he just about constantly felt the need to bum-rush anybody who mildly annoyed him with a gun or an axe, just for Rick or Shane to restrain him. Classic crazy redneck stuff, dude. Get 'er done!
Anyway, yeah, I like Daryl. I just think it's a bit of a problem when you have people threatening to stop watching a show wherein the central focus, even the very name itself is DEATH, should one specific character happen to be subjected to the same rules as all the others on it. God forbid, right? Except the whole "anybody can die" thing becomes a little cheap when it's more like, "Anybody but Daryl can die. Mostly Lori can die. Also every black dude can die." I'm not very much inclined to fear for a character if I know the creators don't have the balls to off them just because the fanbase loves them. It was basically how I predicted Hurley would survive Lost regardless of what perils he faced. Seriously, a sinking submarine and somehow he manages to get himself, PLUS Kate out alive? I figured I was already accepting a magic tunnel of light, why not suspend disbelief for that little miracle, too.
The thing about The Walking Dead is, it's always been very good at off'ing characters at any instant, no matter how liked they are or fucked up it would be to do so. In fact, Kirkman seems to sometimes sit down, ask himself which character and circumstances would be the most disturbing for fans, and goes ahead and does just that. Now, a show is a different beast altogether, I get that. For a multitude of reasons, it's harder to just arbitrarily kill off a character and send the actor packing. It's like just deciding to fire your employee out of the blue. Still, I think if Lori's death taught us anything, it's that the show WAS willing to kill off important characters seemingly at the drop of a hat, so long as there was a plan in mind and it wasn't done just for the "oh shit" factor. I'm not saying Daryl should just like, I don't know, be crushed by a falling anvil or something, but he should be just as vulnerable as everybody else. Probably not as vulnerable as the black characters, mind you, because then a falling anvil probably will just drop out of the air and kill him.
I've made this argument a few times to friends and coworkers who have been watching the show, and usually my argument is met with a counter-argument that Daryl is just to badass to die. He eats bullets, he shits gunpowder. He could piss his name into a brick wall. To that I say you're right, Daryl is very badass. He uses a crossbow and rides motorcycle, which is loud as all hell and completely counterproductive to the whole avoiding zombies thing the other characters are so keen about doing. Not Daryl, though. He probably rides that thing for that very reason, because if he doesn't kill a walker at least once and hour, with something completely mundane like a shoe or a hatchback door, he will get restless and lose his mind, and then we'll have him running around with ears around his neck again.
You know who else is badass? Tyreese. He's pretty badass. He's built like a brick wall and kills zombies with a hammer. Ask his comic book counterpart how that's working out for him, though. Or Shane, for that matter, who had the training and the smarts to keep himself alive and lead a group for a while. Or Abraham, who was in the military and tough as nails. Okay, I know fans of the show don't know him yet, but trust me, he was tough. He had a handlebar mustache and everything. The point I'm trying to make is that Daryl is tough, sure. The thing is, being tough and clever will only keep you alive for so long, because all it takes is just one second for luck to swing south and BAM, some guy is bludgeoning you with a barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat they've gone and given a feminine name to.
Speaking of Tyreese, he's around now, huh? And hopefully he's likely to eventually do more than apologize feverishly to anybody willing to letting him crash on their couch. Michonne is becoming a bigger player in the Rick Grimes Halfway Home for the Mentally Traumatized, as well. Right there, there's your right AND your left hand. You don't need any more hands than that, even if you had any. Daryl's role as the groups badass and second-in-command is quickly becoming a little redundant, no? From the perspective of an ensemble cast, what else are you going to do with the guy if you've got people lining up to fill the only role he's filled?
Every character has their own arc in a story. For Rick and Carl, The Walking Dead basically IS their arc. For a guy like Daryl, his arc would be watching him go from crude, violent loner, to a humbled anti-hero, who has learned the value of teamwork and friendship, and the true meaning of Christmas and whatnot. In three seasons, Daryl has gone from being all axe-crazy and impulsive, like I mentioned earlier, to having heart-to-hearts with Carl and cooing at babies. He's even found Merle, so what else can the character really do? It's not like Walking Dead is the sort of show where they'll spend three seasons more building up whether or not Daryl and Carol will ever be a couple. I mean, I hope not, anyway. Maybe next season will be more like Friends, and the opening will instead be everyone dancing in a fountain in post-apocalyptic New York. I'd probably watch that, actually.
Bottom line is this, though: the biggest reason I can think of for Daryl to get killed off is drama. It's a drama television show, guys. Doing stuff like that just to get a reaction out of the audience is what shows like this are supposed to do. I mean, why would you ever invest in any story, if nothing it ever did made you feel emotionally connected? You shouldn't want Daryl to die, not really, but if he DOES, would that mean you should stop watching? If anything it means the writers have just given you a great show, something that reached out and got a hold of you, which is what we want fiction to do. Demanding a story turn out the way you want isn't what makes it fun and memorable. People like Michael Bay are the ones who just keep giving us the same old shit, and we've all seen how that goes. You want new, you want unexpected things, you want things you even dread to happen, because it makes the story that much richer an experience. So if I have a final message here, it's that nobody should riot if Daryl dies. You should riot the moment a show you've become so invested in suddenly stops striking that emotional cord with you, where the fate of an entirely non-existent person means so very much to you.
Besides, we all know if anybody should die, it's Andrea.