Warning: The Walking Dead TV series and comic book spoilers ahead.
Fans have promised to riot if Daryl Dixon is killed off on The Walking Dead, but how will they feel if the character — often the subject of shippers' matchup wishes with Carol or Beth — is revealed to be gay?
As the tension between Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Beth (Emily Kinney) and Daryl and Carol (Melissa McBride) has continued to linger throughout the show's first four seasons, some fans have begun to wonder if Daryl is not interested in either woman… or maybe, any woman. In the most recent issue of TWD comic book (Issue 130, which was released on Aug. 13) TWD universe creator Robert Kirkman addressed the topic in "Letter Hacks," the column in which he responds to fan questions.
A Walking Dead comic reader/TV show viewer named Nick wrote, "Jesus was an all-around badass [who] turned out to be gay, which shocked most of us until you look back and notice that nothing at all indicated he was straight to begin with, and one character is in exactly the same position on the TV show… Daryl. Absolutely nothing has given any indication that Daryl is straight and the relationship between him and Carol makes it seem even more likely that he is not only gay, but that Carol is probably the only person he has confided in so far, and I feel like little hints have been dropped about it as well along the way… I feel like if you had your way that Daryl would turn out to be gay… so the real question is, would AMC let that fly?"
Kirkman's response: "I have… fantasized about having this discussion."
He also goes on to write, "For the record, [AMC] absolutely would" allow the Daryl character to be gay.
"All I can say is that it's been discussed," Kirkman continues, addressing the possibility that Daryl is gay. "We have very specific ideas about Daryl's sexuality (or the seeming lack thereof), and if there's ever a quiet period in the show where he's not constantly distracted by crossbowing… we'll tackle it in the show."
Jesus, whose real name is Paul Monroe, is a character in the comics who becomes an ally of Rick Grimes. Daryl is a character created for the TV series, and who doesn't exist in the comic book universe. But it has been a common occurrence on the series to switch storylines and characters around from the comic books, as a clever way to avoid spoiling the show for viewers who also read the comics.
Making Daryl gay in The Walking Dead would not only be a twist a lot of viewers might not have seen coming, but also it would allow the show to address diversity criticism that there are no gay characters on the series.
During a Reddit AMA earlier this year, Kirkman explained why he decided to make Jesus gay, and it may be a hint about his plans for the TV series.
"In my opinion there should be more awesome gay people in fiction because there are plenty of awesome gay people in real life. I want Jesus to be a character where his sexuality is as unimportant as Rick or other heterosexual characters. So we won't focus on it constantly and it won't be the focus of any big storylines for him… but he'll make [out] with a dude every now and then… before going out and drop kicking zombies. He's one of my current favorite characters."
Meanwhile, during a chat on Larry King Now in April, TWD series showrunner Scott Gimple was asked by a fan if Daryl would ever find love. "I would say Daryl has already found familial love," Gimple said. "If you're talking romantic love… I'm going to say, I think so."
The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres on Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. on AMC.