'Caryl' or 'Donnie': Who Should Daryl Be With on 'The Walking Dead'? (PHOTOS)

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Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

1. Who knows Daryl better?

Carol. Connie’s not yet been around a full season, so it’s possible she and Daryl might grow closer over the next 15 episodes. But purely on the basis of who’s been around Daryl longer and has seen the full evolution of who he once was to who he is now… it’s gotta be Carol. They’re the last two left from the original Atlanta camp. They’ve been through hell together. They’ve seen acquaintances, friends and loved ones die and helped each other through that grief. Because of that shared history, their bond, whether platonic or romantic, is unbreakable. There’s no one who knows him like she does, and vice versa.

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Gene Page/AMC

2. Who has more in common with Daryl?

Carol. We haven’t heard a whole lot about Connie’s backstory yet (other than that she rescued the Whisperer baby because she once lost a child), so it’s possible she’ll have more common ground with Daryl once her history is further elaborated upon. But right now, Daryl and Carol are suited for each other on the basis of having similar pasts. They both have grown and changed quite a bit since the apocalypse, and both are better off in the world of the dead than they were when society was intact.

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3. Who does Dog prefer?

Hey, it’s important that whomever Daryl ends up with is Dog-approved. For that reason, this one goes to Connie. Carol mentioned making a matching friendship-bracelet collar for Dog, so it’s reasonable to assume Daryl’s pupper likes her well enough. But the show is investing time in showing the bond between Connie and Dog, and Daryl has definitely taken note of the fact that his companion is a fan of hers.

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4. Who gets Daryl out of his “shell”?

Daryl Dixon’s not exactly known for being an outgoing dude—after all, he spent years living contentedly in the woods without anyone else around. It’s important that whoever he ends up with doesn’t let him pull away from everyone, and questions him whenever necessary. For that reason, Connie might be a better option here. Almost all of “Chokepoint” was her calling Daryl out on his faulty decision-making and encouraging him to see things a different way, and it’s notable that despite only knowing her for a few days, he did change his mind and agree with her.

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Gene Page/AMC

5. Where does Lydia factor into this?

Lydia’s basically Daryl’s adoptive daughter at this point, so whoever he ends up with will also have to be a “mom” to her. Connie has already proven she cares about Lydia, as shown when she accompanied Daryl to rescue Henry and, by extension, Alpha’s daughter. But Carol and Lydia also have a connection, as shown in the Season 9 finale; Not only did Carol not go through with killing her even when Lydia begged her to do so, but she told her that despite what Alpha had said, she’s not weak. Carol clearly isn’t holding what happened to Henry against Lydia, and it’s about time she had a kid that didn’t die—not to mention the tragic, shared past among Carol, Daryl and Lydia given all they endured from their abusive families. For that reason, Carol might be best here, though Connie would be good, too.

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Gene Page/AMC

6. Have Angela Kang or Norman Reedus said anything about it?

Kang and Reedus haven’t said much of anything concrete when it comes to Daryl’s love life, though the former said she and Reedus have discussed what a relationship would look like for the quiet archer with a heart of gold. On the subject of Carol and Daryl, the script for the Season 9 premiere said there was “buried jealousy” on Daryl’s part when he and Carol were discussing her life at the Kingdom. Kang has also said in plenty of interviews that that platonic or romantic, the two of them are “soulmates”—but Reedus did let slip that Carol’s going to be a “pain in the a**” for Daryl this season at San Diego Comic Con.

As far as Connie, Kang has said in an interview with TVLine that Connie has “really interesting chemistry” with him, so it’s possible that’ll come into play this season.

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Gene Page/AMC

7. Did the premiere make anything clearer? Does it seem like Daryl’s leaning one way or the other?

At this point, it’s hard to tell. The premiere left plenty of things open to interpretation. Daryl’s learning ASL so he can communicate with Connie, he seems comfortable joking around with her, Kelly’s teasing her sister about Daryl and Dog is clearly a fan. Also worth noting is that Daryl doesn’t exactly enjoy talking, and Connie is deaf, so they’re well suited in that regard. But for those who want Carol and Daryl together, the premiere offered plenty of fuel for speculation that adds to several seasons of will-they-won’t-they interactions: they hugged again, Carol asked him to go out on the boat with her, they made plans to run away together to New Mexico (even though that didn’t end up happening), and he bared his soul in a way Daryl rarely does by saying he needs her to stay.

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Gene Page/AMC

Final Thoughts

Based on our evaluation, Carol’s just a little better for Daryl—but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong if the show ends up going the “Donnie” route. They’d both be good for Daryl in different ways, and bottom line, after 10 seasons of speculation, it’d just be nice if the topic was put to rest. Right now, both possibilities are open—and as long as Daryl’s happy, fans should be, too.

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Let’s talk about one of the most important aspects of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon’s (Norman Reedus) love life.

Okay, that might be an overstatement. No one’s arguing Daryl’s romantic pursuits—or lack thereof—take precedence over a decent plot, good characters and a compelling story. But every season has seen questions swirl who Daryl will end up with. Since he didn’t definitively show an interest in anyone for more than 100 episodes, speculation ranged from Jesus to Rosita and pretty much everyone in-between.

Under Angela Kang’s leadership, it seems likely there are a couple of options for Daryl. Season 10 appears to be setting up the archer to definitively be with one of two people: Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), his longtime friend, or Connie (Lauren Ridloff), an awesome addition to the cast last season with whom Daryl is forming a definite bond. Who’s better for him? Let’s investigate.

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