Who doesn’t like The Walking Dead? Zombies, end of days, action, adventure - The Walking Dead has it all; and If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead you probably have a favorite character. Like most loyal fans you probably fall into one of two camps, Rick or Daryl. When season 7 premiered (Spoiler Alerts!) in mid-October people were concerned that Daryl might be at the business end of Negan’s bat Lucille, but after the first 30 minutes of the premiere those folks could breathe a huge sigh of relief. Daryl lives to fight another day.
What is it that makes Daryl so loved by fans? For me it’s his unpredictability, you never quite know what Daryl is going to do, he is a true Adventurer and so far things have worked out for him…at least for the most part.
When applying the S.A.F.E. model to Daryl it’s easy to see he fits the Adventurer profile. Let's take a look at each factor and you’ll see why.
Stays in Control
At first glance you might say Staying in Control is something Daryl has going for him. However, keep in mind these characteristics take on a different form when pressure is applied. Take a look at the season 7 premier. Negan had just killed Abraham and was threatening the rest of his friends, what does Daryl do...he punches Negan. He was clearly in no position to win a fight with Negan given they were outnumbered 15:1, however Daryl let his emotions get the best of him. He felt he had to do something, even if that something got him severely beaten and carted back to Negan's compound.
Aware of Surroundings
Staying with season 7, Daryl tries to escape from Negan and his henchmen, only to walk right into a trap where he receives yet another beating. The pressure of being held captive made Daryl take the risk of trying to escape. He overlooked the fact that he was deep inside the compound and without a weapon it would be nearly impossible to reach the perimeter to escape. Once again his thinking while under pressure led him to taking a bad risk.
In all fairness, during the zombie apocalypse there’s not a whole lot of rules to follow so it’s hard for me to be too tough on Daryl when it comes to this S.A.F.E. factor. However, while being held by Negan it’s made clear, “There are rules.”
The first one's free (referring to a swing at him)
What was once yours is now mine
You earn what you take
This is the only way (meaning Negan’s way)
Now it’s too early to know for sure how Daryl will exactly deal with the rules Negan laid out but if history is any indicator Daryl likes to do his own thing so I’m guessing he’s not planning to adhere to closely to Negan’s rules.
I’m sure there’s a very few times over the past 7 seasons where you can point to Daryl Exhibiting Caution; however, I’m having a hard time remembering even one. Daryl runs on emotion, and his passion for friends and those around him make him the type of person you’d like to have on your side. You also know that from time to time that passion will put you in dangerous situations.
Whether he’s fighting his way out of a building where he’s greatly outnumbered or risking his life to retrieve supplies needed by the group, Daryl will abandon caution and trust that his own instincts will get him out of tight situations.
These traits make Daryl a fan favorite and the kind of character you love to pull for on The Walking Dead; however, in a manufacturing environment, an oil field, or a construction site, is Daryl the kind of person you’d like to have next to you running a dangerous piece of equipment? My guess is no…at least not until he’s had some developmental training.
As we wrap up our series studying the SafetyDNA of various pop culture characters, it is clear that each of them view safety risks differently. And although they live in fictional universes with their own unique set of circumstances, the same could be said of those of us living in the real world. By understanding how our behaviors impact the safety of ourselves and others around us, we fill in a large piece of the puzzle that can help improve the safety culture and performance of an entire group as a whole.