One of the looming questions of The Walking Dead isn’t about the plot.
Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Walking Dead season 5 midseason finale.
The midseason finale of The Walking Dead was devastating for everyone, but Maggie Greene and Daryl Dixon may have gotten the worst of it. For one, Maggie—having already lost her father at the hands of the Governor last season—has now lost her last living relative. And Daryl lost a close friend and companion—and maybe something more?
Daryl’s sexuality has been something debated in The Walking Dead fandom for ages, and it’s something creator Robert Kirkman has finally confirmed on Sunday’s The Talking Dead, an after-show in which Chris Hardwick discusses what happened on the The Walking Dead episode everyone just watched.
In short, Daryl is straight. We’ve included some of Kirkman’s thoughts on the matter below since the clip’s audio is hard to hear unless the volume’s turned up all the way.
Daryl Dixon is being somewhat asexual on the show. I think that he’s a very introverted character and I think that’s somewhat his appeal. I do have to clear something up, though. In The Walking Dead letters column in the old comic book that I do, there was a question that made me mention that there was a possibility early on about making Daryl Dixon’s character gay and it caused quite a hubbub online. I just wanted to make it clear that I was saying that the possibility is there and I would’ve been fine with it, the network would have been fine with it, but we ultimately didn’t do that. I can make it official, Daryl Dixon is actually straight, but coming back in our next half of the season we’re going to be introducing a very prominent gay character from the comics that’ll be debuting.
The gay character from the comics in question is largely speculated by fans to be Aaron, a character who’s a recruiter from the Alexandria Safe-Zone—which, from the looks of the trailer, the group seems to be heading toward. He ends up being an ally to Rick and company.
Some fans may ultimately be disappointed that Daryl, a character created solely for the show, isn’t gay, but for the asexual community, which often gets misrepresented, marginalized, or is misunderstood, having Daryl in their corner is huge.
Although it’s possible for a person to have an orientation (such as straight) and still be asexual, we won’t know if Daryl is fully asexual until we see how his orientation is handled in future seasons. The asexual community, however, is hopeful.
“[T]he ace community gets so little representation – i for one have never seen an asexual character on tv ever – and this is quite possibly one of the biggest things to happen in the history of ace representation,” acecarol wrote on Tumblr. “please, even if you don’t watch the walking dead, even if you’re not on the ace spectrum, talk about this. please celebrate this with us.”
While some of The Walking Dead fandom is in celebration about Daryl’s possible asexuality, others are in complete disarray after the show abruptly killed off Beth Greene in the final minutes “Coda.”
That sunk Beryl, which paired Daryl and Beth together, who was more of a background character until the show placed her and Daryl together in the wilderness in “Still.” Although Daryl and Beth soon became separated, the show took to evolving Beth’s character until she was shot in the head by Dawn Lerner.
However, fans aren’t happy about Beth’s demise—and not just because Beryl is no more. Some of them are crying foul at Beth dying for nothing more than “simple fucking shock.” It’s not quite a literal “women in refrigerators,” but it feels just as ultimately pointless for an emerging character—and with Daryl’s reaction to retaliate by shooting Dawn, there’s even the man pain.
“Someone give me a comic on all the ladies who died to further ‘man pain’ just sitting around talking about it and then here comes Beth all pissed or something,” repyourclique wrote.
“[B]eth greene deserved better than this,” tommybishops wrote.
Even Emily Kinney, who played Beth since the show’s second season, didn’t really understand why Beth had to die when she did, and thought she had more story to tell.
“I think the Beth character, in particular… more could’ve been done with a teenager growing up [in that world],” she told TVLine. “I did not see it coming at all, especially this season. It’s weird, because I would’ve been OK with [this happening] in the second season or the third season, when I was like, “Oh, maybe this character is coming to a close. What else is there to do with her?” But now I feel differently… I feel like there was still so much more to [explore.], like, what could have happened with Daryl?”
With a mysterious teaser and February premiere, fans have a few months to process these events and grieve before they likely have their collective hearts stomped on with the next character death.