- As “TWD” is airing its final episodes, Insider caught up with Norman Reedus.
- We asked if there was a scene with his character Daryl he wished played out differently.
- Reedus admitted that, because of the pandemic, Daryl and Leah’s relationship was “a little rushed.”
If you weren’t a fan of how Daryl and Leah’s relationship was handled on “The Walking Dead,” Norman Reedus agrees with you.
While discussing the show’s final season, Insider asked Reedus if there was anything he wished would’ve played out differently with his character, Daryl. One of the moments he brought up was Daryl’s relationship with Leah (Lynn Collins) from the show’s most recent season.
“The relationship with Leah was kind of thrown at us during those COVID episodes,” Reedus said, referencing the six bonus episodes created to tide fans over until the next season of the show.
The episodes, which “TWD” chief Scott M. Gimple previously told Insider were “written with producibility in mind,” were smaller in scale and scope, and featured limited cast members onscreen.
Daryl’s first relationship was explored in these episodes, but it didn’t go exactly how Reedus imagined.
“That relationship was kind of crammed together in a way that fit with our shooting schedule and storyline for those two people,” he said, noting that the show’s safety protocols also made it difficult. “Everyone’s got nine layers of plastic on their face and we were all kind of very hesitant to get too close to anyone.”
The Leah and Daryl relationship was a shock to fans
After 10 seasons of going it alone in the zombie apocalypse, many fans wondered if the fan-favorite would eventually wind up with his bestie Carol (Melissa McBride) or Connie (Lauren Ridloff), who joined AMC’s apocalyptic drama on season nine and forged a bond with Daryl and his dog.
Since Daryl didn’t have any romantic entanglements for 10 seasons, other fans read Daryl as asexual, with some viewers sending Reedus mail thanking him “for being asexual.”
Though Daryl’s sexuality was never commented on in the show up to that point, “TWD” comic creator Robert Kirkman said in 2014 that the character was “somewhat asexual on the show.”
Since Daryl came to mean so many things to so many people in the fandom, it was a surprise when the character was paired off with a completely new character on season 10’s March 2021 episode, “Find Me.”
Over multiple flashbacks spanning 27 months, fans watched as Daryl grew close with the mysterious stranger who lived alone in the woods with a dog. The two were together for 10 months before Leah disappeared and re-entered Daryl’s life years later in season 11.
Though the two are never shown kissing or being directly physical onscreen, something episode writer Nicole Mirante-Matthews said probably wouldn’t have happened even if they weren’t in a pandemic, there’s one scene late in the episode that suggests the two were intimate. Showrunner Angela Kang also confirmed that was the case to Insider.
Reedus said he would have liked more time to explore the relationship
Reedus told Insider that the relationship didn’t seem to match with who he knew his character to be after years of playing him.
“I’ve had so many conversations about what kind of boyfriend Daryl would be and it’s gone up and down and back and forth and, you know, I’ve always said the same thing,” Reedus said. “I don’t think he would jump — not to be crass — I don’t think he would jump in the sack that quick. I don’t think he has those skills. I felt like that was a little, a little rushed.”
“Maybe if it wasn’t in COVID times, we could have explored that in other ways instead of just a timeline written on the bottom of the screen,” Reedus said referencing the six time jumps in the episode. “I would have liked more time there.”
Daryl’s tumultuous relationship with Leah continues on “The Walking Dead’s” final season.