Daryl DixonPlayed by Norman Reedus
Daryl insists on going back for his brother, but they fail to find him. After walkers attack the survivors' camp outside Atlanta, Daryl suggests it's comeuppance for Merle, stating "you reap what you sow."
However, without Merle's bullying presence, Daryl is able to step out of his big brother's shadow and develop relationships with the other survivors — particularly Carol, who he becomes close with after fervently searching for her missing daughter, Sophia.
Over time, Daryl proves himself a worthy ally to Rick, following his lead on dealing with a dangerous prisoner, defending the farm against a walker attack and even mercy-killing a gravely injured Dale when Rick hesitates. ("Ain't no reason you should do all the heavy lifting," he later tells Rick.)
Even when the survivors are forced off the farm and the others question Rick's leadership, Daryl remains loyal: "Rick's done alright by me," he tells a doubtful Carol. "[He] has honor."
When the survivors move into an empty prison, Daryl continues to prove himself a worthy Number 2 — especially while Rick grieves over Lori, who dies in childbirth. Daryl quickly grows attached to the baby, leading a mission to find formula and even bestowing upon her the nickname "Lil' Ass-kicker."
The Governor publicly denounces the Dixon brothers and sentences them to fight to the death, but Rick and Maggie mount a rescue. However, the group bristles at the idea of bringing Merle back to the prison. "No him, no me," Daryl insists as he heads off into the wilderness with Merle.
The brothers soon find themselves at odds, and Daryl declares he's going back to the prison "where I belong." Merle reluctantly joins him and is instrumental in saving Rick from attacking walkers. Rick allows Merle to stay, but warns Daryl, "If he causes a problem, it's on you."
Daryl accepts Rick's ultimatum and, when Merle kidnaps Michonne, insists on going after him alone so that Rick can stay and protect the others from the Governor. "You're family too," Daryl tells Rick before leaving.
When Daryl catches up with his brother, Merle is a walker. Daryl breaks down in tears. Merle tries to attack and Daryl tearfully stabs him in the head.