• The upcoming Daryl Dixon spinoff will determine whether he can successfully replace Rick Grimes as the show’s leading character.
  • Daryl Dixon’s popularity, long-standing presence, and leadership qualities make him the closest option to fill Rick’s shoes.
  • Despite Daryl’s potential, Rick Grimes still remains central to The Walking Dead, as evidenced by his return in the spinoff and his crucial role in facing the CRM.

With The Walking Dead still trying to find its Rick Grimes’ (Andrew Lincoln) replacement, the franchise’s upcoming spinoff will finally answer whether it has found its new leading character. Rick has been a staple of the series since it first aired in 2010, but with Andrew Lincoln leaving The Walking Dead in season 9, they have been desperately trying to find a character to fill his shoes. Perhaps the most obvious character to take over would have been Rick’s son, Carl (Chandler Riggs). The show killed Carl off the season before Rick’s departure, however, leaving a massive hole in the series that The Walking Dead is still trying to fill.

The franchise’s upcoming Daryl Dixon spinoff will be the best opportunity to finally answer whether Rick has been successfully replaced. After his departure, the show still had over two seasons to try and establish a new lead character in Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), whose spinoff will see him as a sole lead for the first time. Even before Rick left, the show often split its overall storyline into smaller stories that switched between characters. This continued after Rick left, but meant it was harder to tell who the story was now revolving around. With an ensemble cast rather than a central character, there wasn’t a clear protagonist to carry the show.

Daryl Dixon Is The Closest Replacement For Rick Grimes In The Walking Dead

Rick touching Daryl's should in Alexandria in The Walking Dead

Finding a replacement for Rick is near impossible, but Daryl Dixon is the closest option. Daryl is a fan favorite who has been in the series ever since the first season. He is one of the longest-surviving characters in The Walking Dead, appearing in the most episodes out of the entire main cast. Given Daryl never appeared in the comics, the show had a lot of flexibility with his character, and he managed to become one of the most popular survivors on The Walking Dead. Proving dependable, he was often Rick’s right-hand man, allowing him to show he is one of the most capable survivors in the franchise.

After Rick’s departure, Daryl stepped up to become one of the most prominently featured characters. He was central to the Whisperers, Reapers, and Commonwealth storylines. Daryl also became one of the people closest to Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming), helping protect and guide her in the same way Rick did. There are also arguments that Daryl was a better leader than Rick. If seasons 10 and 11 are anything to go by, Daryl Dixon is the closest thing the franchise will have to Rick Grimes and the improved ratings for the last few seasons suggests he is capable of being The Walking Dead’s lead character.

Daryl Dixon’s Solo Spinoff Will Prove Whether Walking Dead Has Replaced Rick

Norman Reedus in The Walking Dead Daryl Dixon looking suspicious

While Daryl may have stepped up to fill the gap Rick left in the series, his solo spinoff will prove whether he has replaced Rick. The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon will give Daryl the chance to lead a show on his own and highlight if he is capable of being an outright protagonist. He became the closest thing to a protagonist in the latter seasons of the main show but ultimately had a host of other major characters to help progress the story. In the earliest seasons of The Walking Dead, Rick was the clear main character with most major events happening around him, proving he was the central survivor.

Daryl’s solo spinoff gives him the chance to replicate this and follow in the footsteps of Rick. He may have the advantage of already having a likable, established character, but this is the first real test to prove Daryl can carry a show on his own. Since The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon is set in France, it is unlikely any other major characters will feature in the spinoff. This means the responsibility will be on Reedus to prove that Daryl can indeed carry a show on his own and act as a replacement for Rick. If the spinoff fails, the franchise may not ever be able to replace its original protagonist.

Why Rick Grimes Is Still Central To The Walking Dead 5 Years After Leaving

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead

Even if Daryl Dixon proves to be a hit, replacing Rick Grimes will be difficult given he is still central to The Walking Dead despite his departure in season 9. Rick was never killed off in the main show. Instead his story ended on a cliffhanger and Rick’s journey will continue in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live. With Rick returning in The Ones Who Live, it shows that he is still central to the franchise even if he hasn’t been present for five years. Alongside Michonne (Danai Gurira), Rick will lead next year’s spinoff show, where it is rumored they will encounter the CRM.

Given the CRM is the franchise’s largest group, the fact the mysterious organization will likely feature in The Ones Who Live shows Rick is still essential to the series’ storytelling. Bringing him back to face off against the biggest group the show has ever seen furthers how much his presence is needed. Finishing The Walking Dead without Rick returning would leave the series incomplete, which is why he had a cameo teasing his spinoff in the finale. His return to the franchise doesn’t make Daryl’s role any less important but suggests The Walking Dead won’t truly finish without Rick Grimes’ involvement.

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