Daryl Dixon is arguably one of the most beloved characters on The Walking Dead, and over the years he has grown exponentially. In The Walking Dead Season 1, Daryl was very guarded and kept to himself, but as he has evolved he's become a trusted member in Rick’s band of survivors. However, Daryl Dixon was almost a completely different character, and if the script had stayed the way it was, he probably wouldn’t have been as popular among fans.
Norman Reedus Talks About The Original Concept For Daryl Dixon
In a recent interview with CNet, #NormanReedus gave a lot of insight about how Daryl Dixon came to be everyone's favorite crossbow-wielding badass, and dropped some information regarding the original concept of the character. Reedus was asked about Daryl’s journey over the course of the show, and during his answer he revealed that the original script had a much different version of the character:
“When you first see him, he’s such an angry guy. 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. I mean he started out [turns sideways] 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.
There were always scripts that had him taking drugs and being racist, like his brother was. 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.”
After seeing Reedus’s version of Daryl, it’s hard to imagine him any other way – especially as just a carbon copy of Merle. The aspects of Daryl being a drug addict and a racist may seem interesting on paper—and might they have even led to some great plot threads—but it would have made him a harder character to connect to off the bat.
Sure, if Daryl had been a racist drug addict, his character evolution would have been harder fought in some ways, but those characteristics would have been unnecessary. We've seen how the zombie apocalypse has changed people, and those struggles are interesting enough without throwing added baggage on top. The fact that he lost his brother, his family, and had learn how to coexist with complete strangers was enough to give us one of the best characters on television.
Later in the interview, Reedus was asked why fans like Daryl so much. His reply was short, but he hit the nail on the head:
“He wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s honest. He’s not trying to trick you.”
Reedus’s answer is a shining example of why the original version of Daryl wouldn’t have worked as well as the version he inspired. His honesty is virtuous and unshakable. If he would have started out as someone with secret prejudices, or hiding an addiction, that honesty wouldn’t be a core value of the character.
Along with changing Daryl’s personality, Reedus also revealed that he was originally supposed to ride a horse instead of a motorcycle. However, Reedus is terrified of horses, so when they were about to shoot the first scene, he decided that his character should ride a motorcycle instead. When he was asked what he had against horses, Reedus gave a very earnest, yet hilarious answer:
"They have giant eyeballs and they can smell your fear."
Most fans would agree that they are glad that Norman Reedus decided to take the character in a different direction than was originally intended, because the #DarylDixon we have is perfect. The Walking Dead Season 8 is just around the corner, and we can’t wait to see how Daryl and the rest of our favorite survivors fare in their war against Negan and The Saviors.
You can catch The Walking Dead Season 8 premiere on October 22, 2017 on AMC.
Sound off! Would you have liked to see the original version of Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead? Let your voice be heard in the comments section below.