Oct. 31, 2010
Returning Series
60 min.
AMC TV Network

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The Walking Dead

In the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, a small group of survivors travel across the country in search of a new home away from the hordes. Rick Grimes, who was a police officer in the old world, leads the group. As their situation grows more and more grim, the group's desperation to survive pushes them to do almost anything to stay alive.

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Merle Dixon The Walking Dead
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Merle Dixon

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  Played by:
Michael RookerMichael Rooker
Michael Rooker (born April 6, 1955) in Jasper, Alabama. When he was 13 his parents divorced and he went ...

Character Bio

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Merle Dixon ~ "You know something? You're right. I don't know why I do the things I do. Never did. I'm a damn mystery to me".

Before the outbreak, Merle Dixon was in juvenile detention for half of his life for many different offences. One time it was for mauling a drug dealer for cheating him and embarrassing him. He had a brother called Daryl and he was the leader of a motorcycle gang called the Savage Sons Motorcycle Club.

While he was in jail for drugs, sometime during the outbreak's onset, Merle escaped his cell and took camp on the roof of the Fontana Police Station. When he found a group of people who he believed to be military (because they were dressed in uniforms)—in reality it was Scavengers led by Anna Turner—he shot at them, believing they wanted to take him back to jail. He killed many of them and injured some, specifically Noah Cruz and the survivors that hid in the buildings. He shot car alarms to lure the walkers toward the survivors. This, however, caused trouble for his brother Daryl, who came looking for him.

After figuring out the sniper is Merle, Daryl heads there. When Daryl finds Merle, he opens fire on Daryl (despite hearing his voice, thinking it is a ruse to let his guard down). When he lets Daryl in, he finds Merle is burnt red by the sun, and is drunk. It is discovered that he has a fever and requires medicine.

Before the outbreak, Merle and Daryl lived somewhere in the mountains of North Georgia with their neglectful parents; their father being an alcoholic and their mother being both that and a chain-smoker. When they were both little, they lost their mother to a house fire that had been caused by her cigarette while she was asleep. Because of the lack of love and guidance he was given, Merle chose to act out against society, which led him to frequently be incarcerated in juvenile institutions. He raised Daryl to share the same beliefs and also become tough in the cruel adult world that both of them faced. Despite talking proudly about taking care of Daryl, Merle, like their father, was often absent from Daryl's life and didn't give him the emotional support that a big brother should. It is revealed near the end of Season 3, when Merle tells his brother that he is looking for crystal meth, that Merle may have once been a user. This is further supported by a scene in season 2 when Daryl was looting Merle's bag of drugs in the satchel on his bike. Merle jokes, "Yeah, I know. I shouldn't mess my life up, when everything's going so sweet, right?"

Merle presumably abandoned the family during his teenage years, leaving Daryl with their father (seemingly oblivious to the abuse his brother was facing). He then enrolled in the military, as shown by his physical strength, tactical abilities and skill with firearms. At one point, he punched a sergeant, which got him dishonorably discharged. He was then court-martialed and sent to prison for sixteen months.

A seemingly stereotypical Southern redneck, Merle is extremely ill-tempered, racist, misogynistic, violent, volatile and quick to express his beliefs. Much like his younger brother, Merle is an expert tracker and hunter. He is deadly with firearms, and in the third season, his hand-blade attachment proves to be one of his deadliest weapons. He is an experienced bruiser, showcased in the first season when he dominated T-Dog in a fist-fight, and at the same time was able to fend off Rick, Morales, and Glenn simultaneously. He also showed his fighting abilities when he took down Caesar in the brutal battle-royal event in Woodbury, and was able to fend off Michonne's sword attacks with his hand-blade. Merle was The Governor's right-hand man, all the while striving to find his brother and take vengeance on Rick and T-Dog, who left him for dead on the roof. However, he later comes across Glenn and Maggie and takes them back to Woodbury as prisoners, going as far as to brutally beat Glenn into revealing information about the prison.

After the prison group came to the rescue of Glenn and Maggie, Merle was then branded as a traitor and a terrorist by The Governor, and became an enemy of Woodbury.

While he was staying in Woodbury, Merle read many books, including the Bible, and even memorized verses of the Bible showing that he is intelligent, and also possibly religious. He has also claimed that he liked Woodbury's library and it is one of the few things he missed about Woodbury.

While in a heated argument with his younger brother, Daryl, he knocks him down and, in the process, rips his shirt, revealing Daryl's scars, revealing that their father beat and abused them both to a somewhat high degree.

After joining the prison group, his personality began to slightly change, appearing to lose some of his violent and racist tendencies. He is even shown to be searching for some forgiveness from those of the group who he had once wronged. He later attempts to fulfill the potential deal made by The Governor and Rick, which was an exchange of Michonne for peace between the two groups. However, he has a change of heart and releases her, instead opting to take on the group of Woodbury soldiers who had been planning an ambush. This would be his biggest and final act of redemption, as after taking down eight Woodbury soldiers, he is killed by The Governor, reanimates and is finally put down by his own brother.

To the end of his life, Merle was a flawed man with issues that he kept himself from facing, but was never truly evil. He loved his brother and it drove him to keep fighting in a world filled with despair. His final act of courage gave his brother and the rest of the prison group a fighting chance and, perhaps for the first time (and last) in his life, Merle truly found his place among others.

Episode Screenshots

06x10 - The Next World
Season 6, Episode 10
08x10 - The Lost and the Plunderers
Season 8, Episode 10
04x07 - Dead Weight
Season 4, Episode 07
10x07 - Open Your Eyes
Season 10, Episode 07
[More Episodes]

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