Everyone agrees that Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) — with his hair, his attitude and his hair again — is the best dude on The Walking Dead, but not everyone agrees on the show's best Daryl moments. To take away the uncomfortable hours and hours of arguing, we settled it for you. Here are the episodes of The Walking Dead featuring Daryl at his best, ranked from weakest to strongest. (Though it's Daryl, so they're all pretty strong. Look at those arms!)
10. "Always Accountable" (S6E6)
Season 6's most Daryl-focused episode was the one that introduced Daryl's present nemesis, the reluctant Savior Dwight (Austin Amelio). Daryl gets separated from the the group leading walkers away from Alexandria and crashes his motorcycle. While walking his bike through the woods, he meets Dwight and two women, who proceed to take him captive. Dwight infers that he fled Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors, but Daryl doesn't know enough to understand that yet. Daryl eventually escapes, taking his bag of supplies with him, but when he realizes that there's also a cooler full of insulin in the bag and that one of the women is a diabetic who could die without it, he brings it back. He helps them escape some assailants, and even tries to recruit Dwight to Alexandria. But then Dwight betrays Daryl and takes his motorcycle and crossbow. Every time Daryl is nice to someone it backfires. This episode doesn't do as much to further Daryl's character as some others on this list, but the Daryl-Dwight relationship it set up is going to pay off down the line.
9. "Cherokee Rose" (S2E4)
The D-Man was still largely a mystery to the audience at this point, but he had some solid character building here, better known as "that episode where the zombie in the well split in half and gushed its guts everywhere" or "the one where Maggie (Lauren Cohan) boned Glenn (Steven Yeun) in a pharmacy." With Carol's (Melissa McBride) daughter Sophia (Madison Lintz) still missing (*sad face*), Daryl took it on himself to go search for her solo in classic brooding Daryl fashion. He thought he found evidence of Sophia but wisely decided not to tell Carol in order to protect her from false hope. Instead, he gave her a sign of symbolic hope, a flower known as the Cherokee Rose which Native Americans believed bloomed from the tears of mothers of lost children. "I'm not fool enough to believe there's any flowers blooming for my brother, but I believe this one bloomed for your little girl." Awww. And thus #Darol was born.
8. "Consumed" (S5E6)
"Consumed" is more from Carol's perspective, but Daryl has some great moments on his Atlanta adventure with his BFF. First, he engages in some redneck art criticism: "Bet this cost some rich prick a lot of money," he says while evaluating an abstract painting inside of a lawyer's office. "Looks like a dog sat in paint and wiped its ass all over the place." Moments later, when they meet Noah (Tyler James Williams) and he takes Daryl's crossbow, Carol tries to shoot him in the back while he's fleeing, but Daryl knocks her arm down, causing her to miss and saving the boy's life. Carol's mad, but Daryl says, "He's just a damn kid." Daryl's such a mensch. Then he drives a van off an overpass to escape a horde of walkers, and they find Noah again and Daryl traps him under a bookcase and smokes a cigarette and leaves him to die. Carol has a change of heart, so Daryl kills the walker about to chomp on Noah's face. Like I said, a mensch.
7. "The Next World" (S6E10)
The funniest episode of the series features Daryl and Jesus' (Tom Payne) slapstick routine. Daryl haplessly chases Jesus around a field; Jesus gets into Daryl and Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) parked truck to steal it and Daryl catches up and tries to pull him out; Jesus takes Daryl's gun and pauses the fight to shoot a zombie sneaking up behind them, thus saving Daryl's life; Daryl says "thanks" then slugs Jesus in the face and snatches his gun back, exclaiming "that's mah gun!"; the truck gets shifted into neutral during the struggle and rolls into a pond. Earlier in the episode, Daryl and Rick share a can of orange soda. It's endearing. And the whole Jesus fiasco started because Daryl insisted on trying to break open a vending machine to look for some orange soda because Denise asked him to. The Walking Dead's version of a punchline is a truck full of valuable supplies getting ruined because Daryl tried to do something nice.
6. "The Cell" (S7E3)
"The Cell" contains some of Reedus' best acting. Daryl is Negan's prisoner, and he's being tortured: Daryl's held naked in a dark cell with grating music blasting continuously (interrupted for periodic beatings) and fed dog food sandwiches. He runs the gamut, from crying helplessly while wracked with guilt over the deaths he feels responsible for to verbally spitting in Negan's face when asked to show obedience. "What's your name?" asks Negan, expecting to hear his own name parroted back. "Daryl," is Daryl's defiant response. Oh, and Reedus was actually naked. You just can't fake that vulnerability.
5. "Chupacabra" (S2E5)
This stretch of Season 2 was when the writers really knew they had a great character on their hands and decided to beef him up. Off to search for Sophia on his own again, Daryl Dixon tumbled down a hill and knocked his noggin until he was hallucinating his missing brother Merle (Michael Rooker). Ghost Merle taunted and tormented Daryl, giving us insight into the true nature of their sibling relationship (hint: it wasn't all peachy). This was the beginning of Daryl's transfer from one family (the Dixons) to another (Rick's group), and was paramount in shaping him into the man and loyal ass-kicker we know today.
4. "Tell It to the Frogs" (S1E3)
Daryl's debut was a big one for the show because it threw fans of the comics for a loop by introducing a new, awesome, mysterious character we had never seen before, making anything Daryl did spoiler-proof from the eggheads who read Robert Kirkman's comics. And though Daryl's hair and sleeves were shorter than they are now, he was still introduced as the man we know today. A man who will stop at nothing to do what he thinks is right, which in this case was going back to rescue his brother Merle after Rick handcuffed him to a roof. Was he right to be ticked off? Of course he was, he's Daryl Dixon!
3. "No Way Out" (S6E9)
Most episodes on this list are ones that get inside of Daryl Dixon and show the wounded, goodhearted boy beneath the gruff, brutish exterior. This is not one of those episodes. This is Daryl in full badass mode. The Season 6 midseason premiere isn't exactly a Daryl-focused episode, but he gets some spectacular moments: first he blows up some Saviors with a rocket launcher, then he saves the day at Alexandria by dumping gasoline into a pond from a fuel tanker truck he arrived with at just the right moment and then setting it ablaze with the rocket launcher, drawing the many of the dumb walkers attacking Alexandria to their watery/fiery destruction. It can't all be guilty tears, you know?
2. "This Sorrowful Life" (S3E15)
Also known as the "Daryl crying makes me cry" episode, this was the final chapter in Daryl's relationship with his brother Merle. After Merle was recruited by The Governor (David Morrissey), Merle really showed his true colors to Daryl. Or did Daryl's time with Rick's group change Daryl's colors? It's hard to say, but by then the two brothers were too far gone from each other, and though Daryl's strong sense of a familial bond with his brother didn't allow him to shut him out completely, he had no choice but to say goodbye when he encountered an undead Merle. That scene, where Daryl stabs his brother several times in the face after pushing him away three times, is one of the most heartbreaking moments of the series.
1. "Still" (S4E12)
"Still" — which you'll remember as "Beth's Beer Run" — is one of the best character-building hours of The Walking Dead ever, adding layers to both Beth (Emily Kinney) and Daryl as the latter ensures the safety of the former while she struggles to recapture the best days of her life that were stolen from her. It's another prime example of Daryl's most human trait: his repeated feeling of responsibility for the bad things that happen to the group (he felt responsible for Hershel's [Scott Wilson] death because he didn't shoot the Governor when he had the chance) and letting that guilt fester deep inside him until it lashes out. Though a mostly quiet episode, Daryl's late eruption over his guilt is Norman Reedus' finest acting moment in the series, and the best peek inside the man who constantly amazes us.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.