Read the full op-ed at Polygon

“If Daryl dies, we riot!”

Remember that? When Norman Reedus’ bad boy redneck character first stormed onto The Walking Dead, full of righteous fury, viewers were smitten. He had emotional baggage, a short fuse and a wicked crossbow. He was the post-apocalyptic badass featured in every video game ever.

Now he’s eating dog food sandwiches in a dark room, and we don’t even care any more.

We first met Daryl Dixon in the third episode of the first season. The Boondock Saint was a proficient hunter and tracker with skills that immediately become useful after the fall of society. Less useful was his temperament. Belligerent and sullen, Daryl was initially presented as a problem for the group — but he was a problem we rooted for.