The lion’s share of articles about Daryl Dixon’s death on The Walking Dead are from last fall, when sites like Cinemablend wondered “Could This Major Walking Dead Character Be Next To Die?” and Wetpaint told us “Fans Think Negan Will Kill Daryl.” Fast forward to early 2016 and the speculation freshens. No one is safe, of course — look, it’s a zombie apocalypse. But Daryl isn’t just somebody — even if he is TV-only, having no roots in the original comic. He’s Walking Dead fans’ favorite character.
Crunching the history of Walking Dead narrative arcs and the predisposition of the showrunner is one way to worry over Daryl’s fate. The other is to look at the business end of things. Both strategies are fraught with peril and can lead our speculations astray. But here are two major considerations, one of which links back to that Negan headline from months ago. Actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan is the new, new thing on the show and he has a natural magnetism that might only be enhanced if his Negan is the one to dispatch Daryl. The other thing is that IRL Daryl, actor Norman Reedus, is damn busy. He’s got a new show (on AMC, no less) and a slate of films on his calendar. Reedus can keep up the pace, no doubt, but sometimes being dead is a career advantage — as we’ve seen.