In seven seasons on The Walking Dead, Daryl Dixon has been through his fair share of strife. Norman Reedus‘s wildly popular character has taken out countless walkers, battled plenty of not-undead foes, and witnessed the deaths of some of his favorite fellow survivors.
Since he’s one of the few characters on TWD that doesn’t exist in the comic books, fans are constantly left wondering whether he could be the next on the proverbial chopping block. For a long time, it seemed unlikely that the disgruntled tracker-turned-essential ally could ever be killed, due to his overwhelming popularity. But now, as we anxiously await the second half of the seventh season, it’s possible that our beloved badass may not be long for this world.
Whether Daryl survives the nefarious Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is still up in the air. But even if he does make it out alive, it’s not like this is the first time Daryl has had a close call. In fact, throughout The Walking Dead‘s tumultuous run, he’s had more brushes with death than many of the other characters combined. Here’s a rundown of some of Daryl Dixon’s most death-defying moments so far.
1. “Chupacabra” (Season 2, Episode 5)
Early in Season 2 of The Walking Dead, Daryl hadn’t exactly bonded with his fellow survivors. But that didn’t stop him from putting his all into the group’s search for Sophia (Madison Lintz) after she went missing while they were on the road. In “Chupacabra,” Daryl ended up flirting with death more than once when he set off to search on his own. First, he found himself in a bind after his horse threw him and one of his arrows became embedded in his shoulder. Weakened by the injury to the point of hallucination, he woke up from dreams of his brother Merle (Michael Rooker) to find himself dangerously close to becoming walker food.
Though he manages to fight off the walker and make it back to Hershel’s farm, Daryl faces one last incredibly close call. When he staggers toward safety, Andrea (Laurie Holden) sees him from a distance, mistakes him for a walker, and shoots him. Luckily for Daryl — and for his shooter — the wound was mostly superficial. And to the amazement of all of us, he survived “Chupacabra” more or less unscathed, all things considered.
2. “The Suicide King” (Season 3, Episode 9)
Throughout The Walking Dead‘s second midseason premiere, things were not looking good for Daryl Dixon. “The Suicide King” opened with him captured by the Governor (David Morrissey) and forced into a death match against Merle. Fans of the Dixons knew it couldn’t end well — and that Daryl wouldn’t have the heart to kill his older brother. When the two teamed up to try their odds against a herd of walkers in their arena, it seemed for a minute like we might lose both brothers in one fell swoop. If Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Maggie (Lauren Cohen) hadn’t thrown a smoke bomb to cause confusion within the Woodbury crowd — thereby helping Merle and Daryl escape — there’s no doubt that the duo would have been goners.
3. “This Sorrowful Life” (Season 3, Episode 15)
Merle was obviously a huge influence on Daryl — and a driving force for him, whether they were together or apart. So when he encountered his brother, in his reanimated walker form, in the third season Walking Dead finale, “This Sorrowful Life,” he was understandably devastated. Dixon fans know that he rarely loses his cool, and when he let his emotions get the best of him at the sight of his undead brother, he also put himself in a dangerous situation. Merle attacked Daryl, and the younger brother came close to meeting his brother’s untimely fate as a result. Daryl ultimately regained enough control to take his brother out. But he emerged from the close call with a harder heart — and his most significant loss to date.
4. “No Sanctuary” (Season 5, Episode 1)
By the time Daryl, Rick, Glenn (Steven Yeun), and the rest of the crew found their way to Terminus, it almost seemed commonplace for them to face some amount of danger. But that didn’t make their run-in with Gareth and his band of cannibals any less of a nail-biter. After all, Daryl — bound, gagged, and primed for slaughter — was merely seconds away from having his throat cut when Carol’s (Melissa McBride) impromptu bombs gave him and his cohorts a much-needed diversion. It was only a mixture of his ally’s ingenuity — and her excellent timing — that any of them lived to fight another day.
5. Conquer (Season 5, Episode 16)
Morgan (Lennie James) has proven to be a divisive character for fans of The Walking Dead. But at the very least, we can credit him with saving Daryl’s life. In the fifth season finale, “Conquer,” Daryl and Aaron (Ross Marquand) found themselves trapped in a car and surrounded by walkers after trying to track one of the Wolves.
Their situation seemed so dire that Daryl was ready to sacrifice himself in an attempt to let Aaron return to safety. Thanks to Morgan’s intervention, via some skilled walker-killing outside the car, both men were able to get out of the car without losing their lives — at least, not yet.
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