‘The Walking Dead’: Will Daryl Become the Show’s New Villain?

In Season 8 of The Walking Dead, Rick’s group is focused on defeating Negan once and for all. But what happens when Negan is defeated? The show tends to always gain a new big bad, and it looks like the future one could be coming from inside the group.

Daryl Dixon is very much a fan favorite, and one of the original characters still standing on the show. But he has done some things this season that are causing friction within the group. Could it be because he’ll be the next one to face off with Rick?

We think so, and here are a few reasons why Daryl could become the show’s new villain.

1. Daryl has gone rogue this season

The Walking Dead, Daryl

Daryl Dixon has gone rogue this season. | AMC

The motorcycle rider is often seen as a lone wolf, although he has a close relationship with Rick and Carol. But this season the relationship with him and Rick is being tested since he is very much going rogue. Norman Reedus teased this aspect of his character in an interview.

There definitely is [personal revenge],” Reedus told Deadline. “I mean, we’re sticking to a plan in the first episode.” But that doesn’t mean Daryl is exactly executing the plan with his teammates. “Everybody has their job in the plan, and it’s a very thought-out, well-conceived plan,” he added. “But yeah, Daryl’s just out for revenge at this point. He’s tired of playing around.”

The main motivator of this disconnect is that Daryl is getting impatient. “He’s tired of waiting,” continued Reedus. “And there are several moments this whole season where Daryl pretty much goes rogue.”

But Daryl’s other actions might lead him down a path of more than just revenge. It could be villainy.

Next: Daryl kills in cold blood.

2. Daryl killing Morales in cold blood could be a sign

Morales holds up a gun

Morales’ return didn’t last long, thanks to Daryl. | AMC

In “Monsters,” Rick talks to Morales, who is surprisingly working with the Saviors. It’s the first time the characters meet since Season 1 so we think this reunion might lead to something, but it quickly ends with Daryl killing Morales in cold blood. Rick is obviously surprised by this, but Daryl sticks to his guns.

“It doesn’t matter. Not one bit,” he says to Rick. But the show has long been about the group trying to keep their humanity while being faced with walkers, cannibals, and terrible people. This could be a sign that Daryl is finally starting to lose it.

Next: Morales wasn’t the only one Daryl took care of.

3. Daryl also needlessly kills Todd

Daryl looks over his shoulder

Daryl also mercilessly killed Todd. | AMC

The show makes sure we know that Daryl is going down a dark path by having him kill in cold blood not once, but twice. Again in “Monsters,” he kills Todd after Rick gives him his word that if he gives them information, he can take a car and leave safely.

Instead, Todd tells them where the Saviors moved and is shot by Daryl who was there for the deal.

Next: Did the show already test-drive Daryl’s death?

4. The show test-drove Daryl’s death like it did Glenn

Daryl sits in front of a brick wall

It seems like the show is testing Daryl’s death. | AMC

Who could forget when the show did the dirty trick of faking out Glenn’s death before really killing him in Season 6? Well, it’s possible the show could be doing the same thing to Daryl, which would allow the show to turn him into a villain before his real death.

In “Time for After,” Daryl plays out a storyline that leads to a different character’s death in the comic, so many comic book readers had every right to think this would be the end of Daryl. In the comic, a character named Holly drives a truck into the Savior’s base during an attack, according to Mashable. She then gets taken as a prisoner and is eventually killed. Daryl does this very same thing but survives due to rolling out of the truck before it hits the sanctuary.

The show might not have gone as far as it did with Glenn’s fake-out, but it could be a sign that it is no longer worried about scaring fans with Daryl’s potential death.

Next: Rick’s leadership is becoming a bigger problem.

5. Reedus hints that Rick’s leadership is getting between Daryl and Rick

Daryl and Rick crouch holding guns

Daryl and Rick’s relationship may be getting rocky. | AMC

Multiple times, Rick’s leadership has led to people splintering off in the group. This time, it might be Daryl, and Reedus says that on Talking Dead. “Following another one of Rick’s great plans … you know, nothing for nothing, I know he’s trying really hard,” said Reedus.

When Chris Hardwick asked if there was a conflict between the two characters Reedus answered, “There might be one coming. It looks like there could be something happening. But you know, we’re still brothers and we’re still on the same team, but the stakes are higher right now.”

Next: Rick had to face his “brother” once before.

6. This wouldn’t be the first time Rick would have to face his ‘brother’

Rick stands with a bloodied forehead

This wouldn’t be the first time Rick would have to face off against someone close to him. | AMC

We can’t forget that this type of storyline is possible because the show started off with it. Rick and Shane were partners as policemen and were essentially brothers. But they were torn apart due to jealousy and power.

If Daryl keeps going against Rick, then the two might have to face off leading to a similar fate.

Next: Daryl’s character would be making a full circle.

7. It could bring Daryl’s character full circle

Daryl stands in a street in front of crashed motorcycles

Daryl’s character has seen many changes over the seasons. | AMC

The show also started off with Daryl being a very different character. He was all about surviving and less about doing right by his fellow human. His only code seemed to be that he wouldn’t turn on his brother — until he found a new family and changed.

But what if the guilt over his perceived hand in Glenn’s death has pushed him over the edge? What if he has lost that hope in humanity after seeing an expecting father get his head bashed in? This might mean that Daryl is reverting to his old self or even worse — and that has no space in Rick’s group.

Next: The writers have more freedom with Daryl’s character.

8. Daryl doesn’t even exist in the comics

negan walking dead

The Walking Dead | Image Comics

Weirdly enough, one of the most popular and longest-surviving members of Rick’s group doesn’t even exist in the original story told in the comics. And while this doesn’t necessarily make him the next villain, it allows the writers to take Daryl down paths you wouldn’t normally expect.

Creator Robert Kirkman has previously noted that Daryl’s existence presents a different situation for the TV show’s writers. “I like that when we sit down to write the show one of the first things we deal with is: ‘How does Daryl Dixon change this story?’” said Kirkman via Blastr. “Because we always start from: ‘Ok, we like this part of the comic. How are we going to do it?’”

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice.

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