The Walking Dead’s plans for Daryl’s future create the risk of the series repeating the issue with Michonne’s exit. In the midst of the conflict with the Whisperers, Danai Gurira’s Michonne departed the AMC series in a season 10 episode. While there’s no expectation for her to return to the show, her final story put her in a position to appear in Rick Grimes’ Walking Dead movies.
Similar to what happened with Michonne in The Walking Dead season 10, Daryl (Norman Reedus) is on track to leave Alexandria in the near future, presumably after the battle with the Commonwealth comes to an end. AMC has confirmed its intentions to give the character his own spinoff series. Following the conclusion of The Walking Dead season 11 part 3, Daryl will be one of three characters to have their stories continued after the show. While Maggie and Negan are busy fighting for survival in New York in Isle of the Dead, Daryl will be off on his own journey somewhere in Europe. Originally, it was expected for him to be joined by Carol, but that’s no longer the case.
Because of Daryl’s new show, The Walking Dead season 11 part 3 may be faced with the challenge of ending his story in a way that doesn’t share the same issues as Michonne’s exit in season 10. Even though it made Rick her reason for leaving, the show failed to properly justify Michonne’s sudden departure. Not only was her community still in the middle of a crisis, but she had two children who depended on her as their sole caregiver. And since Michonne’s absence hasn’t been a short one, The Walking Dead hasn’t been able to escape this feeling that Michonne has essentially abandoned her children. It’s important that the same doesn’t happen with Daryl when he decides to leave Alexandria at the end of the series.
There was a time when Daryl riding off on his motorcycle to begin his own story wouldn’t have been that complicated. However, things have changed drastically since those days. The Walking Dead season 11 part 2 confirmed that Daryl is raising Michonne and Rick’s children. As their guardian, he now has a responsibility to these kids that he never had before Michonne’s exit. In other words, The Walking Dead can’t easily send Daryl away anymore.
Plus, the character understands the toll Michonne’s decision has taken on her kids. The pain Judith has felt with Michonne being away was addressed in season 11 and certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by Daryl. He has to know that if he were to leave too, he’d only be hurting them further by making them go through abandonment for a second time. Since this would be an out-of-character move for Daryl, The Walking Dead needs to avoid repeating its mistakes with Michonne and find a way to make his ending work. Perhaps the only way for that to happen is if Daryl takes both children with him, possibly in the interest of finding Rick and Michonne and reuniting their broken family.