Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
(AMC)

Why ‘The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon’ Ditched the Crossbow for a More Medieval Weapon

He's in his flail era.

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon announced that when the AMC series returns for season 2, Melissa McBride will reprise her Walking Dead role as Carol. The post-apocalyptic besties will reunite on a (likely) European adventure, but before that happens, let’s look back at the series, and one creative choice in particular: the spiked medieval flail that Daryl twists around his head, spinning like a helicopter.

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At the 2023 New York Comic-Con, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon producers spoke to a room of reporters about a variety of topics including the evolution of Daryl’s fighting style and weaponry. In attendance were Greg Nicotero, TWD chief content officer Scott M. Gimple, showrunner David Zabel, and Norman Reedus, who of course also plays Daryl Dixon. Reedus was able to discuss and promote the series due to his title as executive producer and an interim agreement between SAG-AFTRA and AMC.

For those just tuning in, or who have yet to tune in, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon tells the story of what happens when Daryl washes up in France of all places. How and why? You’ll have to watch to find out. Daryl’s not exactly forthcoming at the start of the series, but all is revealed. The show and its setting separate Daryl from his iconography–his motorcycle, angel wing vest, dog named Dog, and his crossbow. We the audience must consider what makes Daryl Daryl without those things.

“I just liked it,” Reedus said when asked by The Mary Sue about how they landed on the flail for his weapon on Daryl Dixon. There’s also Reedus’ comfort to consider, as both the titular star and executive producer of the series. A handheld weapon is a lot lighter. “You know, that crossbow weighs like 45 pounds,” he said. The actor went on to explain that, while he loves the crossbow, it does tend to dig into your backbone when you’re running. That can get “gnarly” from time to time, in his words.

“It made more sense [creatively],” said Zabel, “because he’s not gonna take his bike to France. He’s not gonna get it over there. So he’s probably not gonna get his crossbow either, especially the way we told the story.” Making the trip was not exactly his choice, without giving too much away, which is key. But starting over with the character, in a sense, felt right for a spinoff. “Take his weapons away,” continued Zabel. “Take his comfort zone away.”

Daryl used a larger version of the flail on later seasons of The Walking Dead. So when presented with a series of medieval weapons at an abbey in France, he borrowed the one he knew how to rock. “Oh, I know this one,” Reedus posited Daryl was thinking in that moment. It’s a simple answer, but in many ways, Daryl is a simple guy. He’s not a complete novice, no nun pun intended.

Even the weapon choice ties back to the themes of the spinoff series. Daryl is a fish out of water in France, but in spite of himself, he finds that he can connect to others. Since he selects a weapon that’s at least somewhat familiar to him, the flail is as much of a comfort as it is a change. I can’t wait to see what Carol chooses when she crosses the pond.

“Also, it’s very medieval,” Reedus adds. Another series theme is how France’s history factors into how its citizens reacted to the zombie apocalypse. The country is over a thousand years older than America. They’ve seen some sh*t! “And abbeys, they do have war rooms. Which is crazy.” FWIW, I think that is pretty gnarly, too!

(featured image: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC)


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Author
Leah Marilla Thomas
Leah Marilla Thomas (she/her) is a contributor at The Mary Sue. She has been working in digital entertainment journalism since 2013, covering primarily television as well as film and live theatre. She's been on the Marvel beat professionally since Daredevil was a Netflix series. (You might recognize her voice from the Newcomers: Marvel podcast). Outside of journalism, she is 50% Southerner, 50% New Englander, and 100% fangirl over everything from Lord of the Rings to stage lighting and comics about teenagers. She lives in New York City and can often be found in a park. She used to test toys for Hasbro. True story!