The Walking Dead: Could Daryl finally have a romantic interest?

1 of 2

The Walking Dead could finally set up some romance in Daryl’s future, and we have a few questions about the romance-less crossbowman.

Romance is on our minds. Sure, we should probably focus on the threats on The Walking Dead. Perhaps it’s a coping mechanism for the impending mayhem and death later this season. Along with death, the undead, and villains, romance is still a recurring theme on the series. While this week’s episode will focus on some emotional flashbacks during Michonne’s pregnancy, as she looks for Rick (alive, dead, or undead), there are some theories that claim Daryl might soon have a love interest.

Jeffery Dean Morgan might take his role as Negan a bit too seriously because he’s villainously trolling us with the vague idea that Negan and Michonne would be a cute couple. Yuck. We’ll give you a moment or three to take a cold shower and regain yourself after that disturbing image.

Beyond Morgan’s suggested Walking Dead coupledom, fans think a romance between Daryl and Connie could be under way. We have a lot of thoughts, as well as a lot of questions. As the supportive Daryl and Connie shippers we are, we know they’d work as a healthy and happy couple, but there’s still a lot to dissect here, mostly because Daryl hasn’t been in a relationship since the apocalypse started (or even before the walkers first started to invade the world, as far as we know).

Speaking of, why has Daryl been perpetually single?

Daryl has been a forever single main character of the series since he debuted on the first season of The Walking Dead. Most characters have had at least one love interest before they’ve left the main group of survivors or met their ultimate demise on the series; however, Daryl hasn’t been in a relationship in the post-apocalyptic world.

Though Daryl might seem too stoic or too much of a self-imposed protector to be in a relationship, we know from seasons past that Daryl’s tough demeanor is a facade for his traumatic past. Surviving childhood abuse might have made Daryl apathetic to love because childhood abuse can impact someone’s intimacy from friendships to romantic relationships, according to Psychology Today.

Because abuse can make it more difficult for a survivor to allow themselves to trust someone, we understand why Daryl might have been single all these years. Without proper treatment and coping mechanisms (and even with them), abuse can have lasting effects including attachment issues, trust issues, and self-doubt especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships.

Childhood trauma, in general, can change how Daryl develops relationships in general. Given the apocalypse and his relationship with his family, he likely hasn’t had time to cope with his childhood traumas to allow him to develop intimate romantic relationships. The walker outbreak itself might have disturbed some latent traumas, even if the trauma itself is dissimilar. After all, it took him a while to implicitly or explicitly build a close and trusting friendship with Carol.

What’s Daryl’s sexuality?

Early on in the character’s development, the writers of the series explored the possibility that his character might be asexual, but they reclarified Daryl’s sexuality by saying he’s straight, according to E! Online. Granted, being straight doesn’t necessarily dismiss the chance that Daryl might asexual and simply romantically heterosexual.

Former The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont originally wanted to depict Daryl as gay, Digital Spy reports. While the initial plan to portray Daryl as gay only to reiterate that he’s a straight character might seem like the series was baiting LGBTQ+ viewers to watch the series, the Darabont didn’t reveal the intention to portray the character as gay until after he left the series and after his predecessor showrunners clarified Daryl’s sexuality.

Albeit his childhood abuse could illustrate his lack of romantic relationships on The Walking Dead, some fans have used his nonexistent love life to headcanon Daryl as gay or bi+. There’s no innate harm in headcanoning a character with ambiguous sexuality as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, just like there’s no harm in headcanoning a character who’s canon straight or in a visibly straight relationship as gay. However, the tendency to claim an apparently romance-less character as gay simply because they aren’t in a visible relationship with someone of the opposite sex can lead to some unsavory assumptions about the LGBTQ+ community and the individual identities within the community.

A character who isn’t in a relationship with a person of the opposite sex doesn’t automatically equate them to being a member of LGBTQ+ community; however, unintentionally conflating the two ideas could potentially fuel the recurring sexless gay character trope in media. Suggesting that a non-intimate character is gay can implicitly perpetuate the notion that gay romance is lewd or unnatural. However, that’s not to say Daryl couldn’t be gay or bi+ (even if the showrunners currently claim he’s straight).

We’re ready for more openly gay characters on The Walking Dead, but we already know the cost of having a sliver of LGBTQ+ representation on the series. The Walking Dead has a history of burying its gay characters… or at the very least zombifying them. Sure, the show does replenish its gay characters once it kills them off, but those new characters are just at risk of being a part of the long-running trope as well — creating an unfortunate cycle on the series. At the cost of losing the show’s LGBTQ+ characters, it devalues the actual LGBTQ+ representation we get on The Walking Dead (when we do get it) because the show depicts its gay characters as temporary accessories to the plot.

Regardless of his sexuality, we hope to see Daryl develop a lasting relationship.