The threat of drastic action in retaliation to Daryl being killed off in The Walking Dead has been a staple of the show for almost as long as the character has been a part of it, but Norman Reedus himself has now stated that if his badass redneck is ever terminally written out he will have something of an extreme reaction.
The topic came up when Reedus was interviewed by Conan O’Brien, who commented on the longevity of the show and the innumerable cast members he has outlived, and asked him what his reaction would be if he were ever told that he was suddenly about to be killed off. His answer was succinct and unequivocal.
“I’ll burn down that building.”
While Reedus was only joking (at least, I’m about 85% sure he is), the deadpan response shows just how much the character and appearing on the show means to him. Having played Daryl for almost a decade, Reedus is probably more emotionally invested in him than anyone, and the prospect of him being unceremoniously killed off would not be a prospect pleasant to contemplate. Going by the cheer that went up from the audience, he was far from alone in the sentiment, too, echoing the “If Daryl dies we riot” mantra by which many fans have lived for years.
Unlike most featured characters who are either lifted directly from the comics or composites of minor players, Daryl is an entirely original hero created especially for the show. Initially intended as a recurring character, Reedus was upgraded to series regular at the beginning of the second season, and has had top billing since the departure of Andrew Lincoln a few episodes into season 9.
The length of time Daryl has been around combined with his popularity with audiences have made him a singularly integral aspect of The Walking Dead, regardless of the size of the sprawling ensemble that increasingly populates it. It’s encouraging to have it reaffirmed then that he means as much to the man who plays him as he does to the viewers, among many of whom he remains one of the few reasons they keep watching it.