The Walking Dead has been on the hunt for a new central character ever since Andrew Lincoln’s departure as Rick Grimes in season 9. This iconic character had been at the heart of the show since its inception in 2010. Initially, the most logical choice to fill this void might have been Rick’s son, Carl, portrayed by Chandler Riggs. However, the series took an unexpected turn by killing off Carl in the season preceding Rick’s exit, leaving a significant void that the show is still grappling with.
The upcoming spinoff centered around Daryl Dixon, played by Norman Reedus, presents the perfect opportunity to determine if Rick’s role has been adequately replaced. Daryl, a fan-favorite character present since the first season, is one of the longest-surviving figures in The Walking Dead, and his character’s flexibility, not originating from the comics, allowed him to grow into a beloved survivor. He often served as Rick’s right-hand man, showcasing his exceptional survival skills.
In the wake of Rick’s departure, Daryl emerged as a prominent character, playing key roles in various storylines involving the Whisperers, Reapers, and Commonwealth. He also took on a protective role for Judith Grimes, akin to what Rick did. Some even argue that Daryl is a better leader than Rick. Recent seasons of The Walking Dead have seen Daryl step into the role of a central character, contributing to improved ratings.
The forthcoming Daryl Dixon spinoff set in France will put him to the ultimate test, determining whether he can truly carry a show as the primary protagonist. Unlike the main series, where other major characters shared the spotlight, this spinoff is expected to focus solely on Daryl. It is his opportunity to replicate Rick’s central role in the early seasons and demonstrate his ability to lead a series independently.
However, even if Daryl succeeds, replacing Rick remains a formidable challenge, as Rick’s story continues in the spinoff, “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live,” alongside Michonne. Their rumored encounter with the powerful CRM group emphasizes Rick’s ongoing importance to the franchise. His return suggests that The Walking Dead will find closure with his involvement, but it doesn’t diminish Daryl’s significance. In essence, the series seems destined to always have a place for Rick Grimes, making his shoes incredibly difficult to fill completely.