|This article is about the TV Series character. You may be looking for his appearance in Survival Instinct, or his Social Game, No Man's Land, or Our World counterparts.|
- "You need to grow up. Things are different now. Your people look at me like I'm the devil. Grabbing up those love birds like that, huh? Now y'all wanna do the same damn thing I did, snatch someone up and deliver them to the Governor. Just like me. People do what they gotta do or they die."
- —Merle justifying his actions to Daryl in their final conversation.[src]
Merle Dixon is a main character and a former antagonist as well as a survivor of the outbreak in AMC's The Walking Dead. During the initial outbreak, he and his younger brother, Daryl, joined a group of survivors outside of Atlanta, Georgia. After being abandoned on a rooftop in Atlanta, he was found by a man known as The Governor and was taken to Woodbury, before reuniting with his brother and rejoining Rick's group. He served as the primary antagonist of the episode "Guts" and the secondary antagonist for the first half of Season 3.
A seemingly stereotypical Southern redneck, Merle is boorish, surly, abrasive, combustible, violent, racist, misogynistic, volatile, extremely ill-tempered and quick to express his beliefs. However, Merle is also extremely humorous in nature and is a thrill seeker, who gets joy by mentally and emotionally toying with others. 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 Grimes, Morales, and Glenn Rhee simultaneously. He also showed his fighting abilities when he took down Caesar Martinez in the brutal battle-royal event in Woodbury, and was able to fend off Michonne's sword attacks with his hand-blade.
After being left behind in Atlanta, Merle was found by the Governor and eventually became his right-hand man and a key member of the Woodbury Army. During this time he devolved into a ruthless killer who followed the Governor's lead without question, all the while striving to find his brother and take vengeance on Rick and T-Dog, who left him for dead on the roof of a building in Atlanta. Though the Governor and Merle were allies, it seemed that Merle feared him to an extent and no doubt had issues with his authority looming over him at all times. 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. When he later comes across Glenn and Maggie Greene and kidnaps and takes them back to Woodbury as prisoners, his crueler side is shown as he brutally interrogates Glenn and almost kills him for information on the location of his brother and their camp.
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 for lying about killing Michonne which cost the Governor his eye and zombified daughter, and became an enemy of Woodbury. Merle escaped Woodbury alongside Daryl with aid from Rick and Maggie. It became apparent that between the Governor and Daryl, Merle was always loyal to his brother and knowingly discarded any chance of becoming a part of Woodbury again when he saw a chance to reunite himself with Daryl.
After joining the prison group, his personality began to slightly change, appearing to lose some of his violent and racist tendencies. Merle realized that he had to coexist with the prison group and that not doing so would damage his relaionship with the only family he had left, Daryl. This causes Merle to examine his past mistakes and reevaluate himself. He is even shown to be searching for some forgiveness from those of the group who he had once wronged such as Michonne, although his attempts are in vain for some of the other group members, notably Glenn. 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 and only time in his life, Merle truly found his place among others.
Before the outbreak, Merle and his brother 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. His father brutally beat both brothers, eventually casing Merle to leave because he claimed he would've killed their father otherwise. 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, which is further supported by a scene in season 2 when Daryl was looting Merle's bag of drugs in the satchel on his bike and crystal meth is visible. Merle later jokes in "This Sorrowful Life": "Yeah, I know. I shouldn't mess my life up, when everything's going so sweet, right?" and in Episode 12 of Season 4, Daryl talks about how Merle had a white dealer.
Merle abandoned the family during his teenage years, due to the abuse his father inflicted on him, leaving Daryl alone 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.
Following their father's death, Daryl reconnected with Merle and the two entered into a drifter lifestyle, with Daryl following his brother's lead everywhere they went.
- Main article: Merle Dixon (Survival Instinct)
At some point following the outbreak, Merle and Daryl eventually stumbled upon a camp on the outskirts of Atlanta and the two decided to join the survivors living there and hunted animals to help feed the group and assisted in scouting missions. Merle's bad behavior at the camp and his past actions led him to being despised by almost the entire camp except for Daryl.
On the department store's rooftop, Merle fires at walkers in the street with a scoped rifle. The group arrives and T-Dog chastises him for wasting bullets and attracting more walkers. Merle scoffs at him by saying he'd never take orders from a "nigger," which sets off a fight between the two. Merle beats T-Dog and presses a handgun to his forehead, before spitting on his chest and proposing a change in leadership. The group is forced to vote in favor of Merle being their new leader. Suddenly, Rick hits Merle with the butt of the rifle and handcuffs him to a pipe. "Things are different now. There's us and the dead. We survive this by pulling together, not apart." Rick tells Merle as he holds a gun to his head. He then finds a stash of cocaine in Merle's shirt pocket and tosses it over the roof, much to Merle's chagrin.
Merle is then put under the watch of T-Dog while he is still unsuccessfully trying to radio the others. Merle tries to convince him to get the hacksaw in the bag of tools to set him free. He scoffs at Merle's offer. "I guess you want me to get that rifle over there, too, so you can shoot that cop when he comes back up." After the group comes up with a plan to escape the city, T-Dog is left in charge of Merle's handcuff keys.
Later, the group grabs their bags to leave the store in a rush, ignoring Merle's pleas to set him free. T-Dog reluctanty turns back and runs with the key in hand to set him free. However, he accidentally slips on the rain-soaked roof and drops the handcuff key down a drain while also dropping the tool bag, making the hacksaw and other tools spill out. "I'm sorry," T-Dog gasps, while Merle accuses him of dropping the key on purpose. He runs back to the stairwell and starts going down, but goes back up and chains the door shut so that the walkers can't get to him.
Merle is left behind, screaming and filled with anguish, as the survivors escape Atlanta without him.
Left alone, he begins the stages of accepting his fate (praying, bargaining, etc.), until he begins to fight again, this time with the pipe he is cuffed to. As he hallucinates that walkers have invaded the building and are reaching the chained door to the rooftop, Merle struggles harder until he notices the spilled tools that the others had left behind. He uses his belt to reach a hacksaw and succeeds in cutting off his right hand to escape.
Later on, Daryl, Rick, Glenn and T-Dog return to the rooftop where Merle was left behind and chained to and are shocked to find out he has escaped and his severed hand remaining. Daryl screams in anguish.
Merle reappears in an injured Daryl's hallucinations, in which he taunts Daryl for giving up, telling him to be tougher. He also tells Daryl to stand up to Rick, even suggesting that Daryl shoot him, and mentioning that Rick handcuffed him and left him to die on the roof of the department store. As a result of this vision, Daryl is able to pull himself up from the gorge he'd fallen into.
At some point after amputating his hand and escaping the rooftop in Atlanta, Merle was eventually discovered by a man known as the Governor while on a scouting mission. Merle revealed that he was on the verge of death from blood loss and starvation and that he was even contemplating suicide. The Governor took Merle back to Woodbury where his wounds were treated and he gradually recovered from his injuries and retrained himself to use weapons. Gradually, Merle became one of the Governor's most trusted lieutenants and assisted him in attacking other survivor camps and settlements.
Merle is with the Governor and his men as they scout the helicopter wreckage. Though not seen on-screen until later, he is presumably scouting the area for walkers or other survivors. He eventually comes upon Andrea and Michonne who are hiding in the woods, holding them at gunpoint. When Andrea turns around, he is surprised to see her alive. He then quickly dispatches a walker that had sneaked up on him with a knife. It is revealed that Merle's severed hand is covered by a self-made metal covering, with a bayonet attached to it. Andrea, who was already sick at the moment, passes out.
As night falls, Merle is in the truck with the Governor, Andrea and Michonne as they travel back to Woodbury. Andrea lifts her blindfold briefly and sees Merle right next to her. Merle motions her to keep quiet. While Dr. Stevens is tending to Andrea and Michonne, Merle enters, telling Dr. Stevens to leave so he can start a proper conversation with her, one they haven't had since the last time they saw each other. He tells her that before being found by the Governor, he was bleeding out and starving to death, and was hoping to commit suicide so that he could "take a nice, long nap" and wait for his brother on the other side. He remembers what Rick did to him and still despises him for it. Andrea catches him up, telling him that Daryl has earned his place in the group. She explains that the group left Atlanta and went to a farm, but the farm was overrun and this was the last time she saw everybody before being split up from the rest; they've lost many people along the way, including Amy. In a rare show of compassion, Merle expresses his condolence for Amy's death.
The Governor enters the room, after whispering something to Merle, who promptly exits. As he later takes the pair out to show them Woodbury, Merle demonstrates his role by climbing a fortified barricade and taking a rifle. He shows that he can still shoot a machine gun despite losing his hand, taking out three walkers in three shots.
The next day, Merle is found in a makeshift lab, working with Milton Mamet, a researcher. As the Governor enters, the two are caught having a disagreement about something; The Governor stops them, comparing their small outburst to a school fight. When the Governor asks about Andrea, Merle reveals that he used to be part of her group in Atlanta. The Governor tells him to interrogate her more, and dismisses him. Meanwhile, while Milton is showing his latest findings, he insists to the Governor that Merle isn't the right man for the job, and that it should be him.
Later on in the day, the Governor is seen driving to a national guard outpost that was revealed by Lieutenant Welles the only survivor from the helicopter crash. He pretends to be innocent by proposing for them to move to his settlement while Merle and the others discreetly surround the area. The Governor quickly pulls a gun out and shoots Corporal Brady, the first man that approached him. This was a signal for Merle and other Woodbury guards, who were hiding in the woods nearby, to open fire at them, quickly dispatching all of the soldiers as they were caught off-guard. After successfully killing all of them, Merle and the rest take their equipment, and return to Woodbury. Merle is present when the Governor makes a speech to the townsfolk saying that the soldiers were already dead when they got there. He later talks privately with Merle and Milton.
After receiving a map from Andrea to show Merle where the Greene Family Farm was, Merle decided to make an effort to go and find Daryl and his location, but after asking Andrea if he was still alive, Andrea didn't know and mentioned that the attack on Hershel's farm was eight months ago.
He then decided to converse about himself and Andrea on why they didn't hook up as a couple, but after having the discussion, Merle then goes to talk to the Governor and tells him that he has made up his mind to go search for his brother in which the Governor rejects his request and tells him that he is needed in Woodbury. The Governor then tells Merle that if he got more solid evidence of Daryl's whereabouts, then The Governor would go and find Daryl along with Merle.
Merle is one of many participating in a day of celebration put on by the Governor. He appears with The Governor and Milton as they retrieve more drinks from the Governor's apartment. Although Milton suggests that they postpone the night's party, Merle rejects the offer. The Governor agrees with Merle. After Michonne kills the captive walkers locked behind Milton's lab, Merle escorts her back to the Governor, giving her sword back to him, and leaves. After Michonne storms out, Merle asks the Governor what happened. He says that Michonne has quite a personality, but she is no problem.
Later, Merle drives out to the wind generator located outside Woodbury with Milton and a few others. Discovering they have caught a bunch of walkers in a netted trap, Merle kills one walker while Milton holds her down. He wrestles the other walker down and begins pulling out its teeth. During the afternoon, Merle stops Andrea and Michonne as they were trying to leave through the gate. He informs them that they will need an escort. When he whispers something to Martinez, and Andrea tries to interject, he orders her to back up. Eventually, Merle decides to open the gate for them, but Andrea refuses to leave and Michonne exits Woodbury by herself.
That night, Merle is seen as one of two brawlers participating in a twisted wrestling match, surrounded by chained walkers. All of Woodbury cheers him on as he beats up his opponent, Martinez. What the people don't know is that the fight between Merle and Martinez is choreographed, and that none of the walkers in the arena have teeth.
The Governor orders Merle to hunt down and kill Michonne, as she is considered dangerous. Merle, Crowley, Tim, and Gargulio go off in the woods, following her trail and searching for her. They locate her and Merle begins to taunt her in order to receive a reaction. Afterwards, Michonne sneaks them from behind, she uses her katana to decapitate Crowley and stab Tim in the stomach before Merle begins shooting at her. He accidentally shoots and kills Tim as Michonne runs off. Merle chases her down and shoots her in the thigh before losing her trail again. Merle regroups with his other companion, Gargulio, who is in shock at the deaths of Crowley and Tim. Merle tells Gargulio to rise to the occasion, "There's some serious shit going down, son." He then stabs Tim's brain to prevent him from reanimating, and forces Gargulio to do the same with Crowley's head. Merle rushes to leave the area, as the shots fired would attract walkers. Michonne sneaks up on them once again and attempts to attack Merle, but all three become disoriented in the fight. Walkers arrive, causing Merle to ignore Michonne for a moment. A walker attacks him and Gargulio stabs it in the head, saving Merle, as Michonne escapes amid the commotion. Merle kills the last walker. He assesses that Michonne is as good as dead, since she escaped right into the "Red-Zone", and he plans to lie to the Governor about the events that had taken place, but Gargulio objects. Gargulio refuses to lie to the Governor, he remembers what Merle said earlier about how serious the situation was, Merle at first agrees, but then he shoots Gargulio in the head while he is distracted by a bird call.
Sometime after, Merle follows Michonne into the "Red-Zone" and, much to his surprise, he stumble upon Glenn and Maggie while they were on a food and supply run. Merle questions Glenn about Daryl, Glenn says that Daryl is still alive, but refuses to take Merle along because of his knife prosthetic. Merle tries to be friendly at first, but then he shoots at them and holds Maggie hostage. He then orders Glenn to get in the car and drive them to Woodbury, but, without their knowledge, Michonne was watching everything from behind a car. Later on, Merle interrupts the Governor and Andrea as they are having sex. The Governor walks out of his apartment to talk to Merle, who lies to him saying that he killed Michonne, but she managed to kill all the other guys. The Governor is saddened for the loss of his men, Merle then tells him that he's captured Glenn and his "pretty little girlfriend". They decide not to reveal this to Andrea, and Merle leaves, stating that he's going to find out where they were holed up.
Merle brutally interrogates Glenn to find out the location of the Atlanta survivors' current camp. Despite the beating, Glenn still does not reveal anything, saying that Rick will eventually find and save them. Merle reinforces that nobody's going to find them. Glenn tries to scare Merle by mentioning several strong survivors still being in the group, but he commits the mistake of mentioning Andrea, so Merle instantly knew that he was lying. Merle eventually becomes frustrated and leaves a walker in the room with Glenn, hoping that it would kill him. However, Glenn ends up killing the walker in a matter of minutes with a piece of the broken chair he was duct-taped to. Eventually, Merle, Martinez and the Governor talk about the situation, Merle says that he wasn't able to get any information from Glenn, but he's going to interrogate Maggie next. The Governor says no and tells him that he is going to talk to her himself. After a while, the Governor gets tired of games, he, along with Merle and Martinez, takes Maggie to the shack where Glenn is and threatens to kill one in front of the other. Maggie eventually reveals that the Atlanta group is camped in a prison inside the "Red-Zone".
Later on, at the Governor's apartment, the Governor says that now that they know that Daryl is still alive, this may count when the time comes to Merle to choose a side, he questions where Merle's loyalty lies, and Merle assures him that his loyalty is no longer to the Atlanta group or his brother, but to Woodbury and the Governor.
Merle converses with the Governor, who is interested in ambushing the prison and enlisting Daryl as an, "inside man". Merle requests that nothing happen to Daryl, and the Governor complies. He then orders Merle to take Glenn and Maggie to the "screamer pits" and execute them. Merle and Warren are going to collect the two when they are ambushed by Glenn and Maggie, and Warren is killed when Maggie stabs him in the throat. Shots are accidentally fired during the confusion, attracting the attention of the entire town. Maggie holds Merle at gunpoint but is stopped when Martinez arrives. Glenn and Maggie are restrained and ready to be executed, but Merle and the other Woodbury men are ambushed by Rick's group, who throw several flash grenades inside the shack and successfully rescue Glenn and Maggie. When the Governor and the others are in Milton's lab talking about what is happening, Merle arrives saying that they were attacked and that Warren is dead. The Governor immediately orders every guard to check every corner of Woodbury in search of the "terrorists". Shortly after, smoke dominates the streets of Woodbury and another shootout ensues. Merle participates in the shootout between the Woodbury soldiers and Rick's group, though the smoke affects their vision, so they are not able to recognize each other.
After the shootout where Rick's group manages to escape, Merle visits the Governor at the infirmary after he was stabbed in the eye. Merle asks what happened, but the Governor only tells Merle that he was attacked and doesn't say who it was (Michonne, who Merle told that was dead, attacked the Governor). The Woodbury citizens are all called into the arena, where the Governor makes a speech about the attack to calm down his people. He then accuses Merle of participating in the attack and betraying them all. Merle is shocked when the Woodbury soldiers bring in a restrained Daryl, who was captured during the shootout. The Governor asks the residents what should be done with the terrorists. The Dixon brothers are finally reunited after nearly a year apart as the crowd cheers for their deaths.
In the arena, the Governor orders Merle and Daryl to fight to the death, with the winner walking away free. Merle says that he will do whatever he can to prove his loyalty to Woodbury before punching and kicking Daryl. On the ground, Merle orders Daryl to follow his lead, proving he has no intentions on killing him. Rick and Maggie attack the Woodbury citizens by shooting the lamps and throwing in a smoke grenade, Merle knocks down Shumpert and escapes with Daryl, Rick and Maggie. After reuniting with the others far away from Woodbury, Glenn and Michonne are not happy to see Merle and attempt to attack him. After Daryl tells Merle to shut up multiple times, Merle begins insulting the group, but Rick pistol whips him in the back of the head, knocking him unconscious. Daryl later decides to depart with Merle, refusing to abandon him again.
Merle is in the woods with Daryl, and it appears the two haven't had much luck with scavenging food. Daryl hears the cries of a baby at the bridge over Yellow Jacket Creek, where Merle jokingly suggests that the noise is just two raccoons mating. They notice a Mexican Family being surrounded by walkers, and Merle reluctantly assists Daryl in saving the family. After the walkers have been killed, Merle holds the family at gunpoint and attempts to retrieve their supplies, until Daryl holds his crossbow at Merle and orders him to allow the family to depart. Back in the woods, Merle and Daryl argue over the events that had just transpired, Merle is jealous that Daryl changed so much after spending almost a year with Rick and mentions their original plans to rob the Atlanta group back at the original camp. Daryl says that Merle was the one who left him, as he always did in the past. Merle gets frustrated and rips Daryl's shirt, revealing scars on the younger brother's back from childhood abuse. Merle is horrified and insists that he was unaware of his father's abuse of Daryl, it is revealed that Merle was abused too and that's why he left.. Daryl decides to depart back to the prison, and Merle tearfully informs Daryl that he can't accompany him because he attempted to kill Michonne and brutally attacked Glenn. Daryl accuses Merle of once again leaving him and departs. However, both Merle and Daryl come back to the prison in time to save Rick from being killed by three walkers, who had him pinned against the chain-link fence.
Merle is locked inside the common room of the prison as the group discusses what to do about the Governor's recent attack. Merle informs the group that the Governor probably has scouts on the outside to trap them in, and that they had a window of opportunity to retaliate last night, but didn't. Merle appears to be right when Rick notices movement near the trees from afar when he looks out with his binoculars. While fastening his bayonet back to his metal covering, Hershel visits him in the cell, where they bond over their amputations saving their lives and a Bible verse. Merle also informs Hershel of the Governor's planned pecking order if he attacks again, with Merle being the first death and Rick being the last because the Governor wants Rick to watch all his family and friends die around him.
Later on, Merle apologizes to Michonne for trying to kill her, saying that he was simply following orders and that he has done a lot of things he regretted, before and after. When Andrea shows up at the prison, a now armed Merle assists Rick into scouting her in. He, along with the rest of the group, listens to Andrea's plan of making peace with the Governor and Woodbury, Merle chuckles when she says that there is room for all of them at Woodbury. After Andrea leaves, by the evening, Merle is seen in the door of the common room, listening to Beth singing. Rick privately tells Daryl that if Merle causes any trouble, he is to blame.
Whilst Rick, Daryl and Hershel have departed to rendezvous with the Governor so they can talk, Merle is seen with the rest of the survivors back at the prison where it looks like they are gearing up for war and lookout. Also, whilst Rick and the Governor are discussing their need to fulfill the protection of their people, Merle is mentioned by the Governor, whom he blames for the capture and torture of Glenn and Maggie, but it doesn't convince Rick.
Back at the Prison, Merle is seen suggesting to Glenn in front of the rest of the group that they have to kill the Governor before he kills them, which puts a scared look in Glenn's eyes; he is worried that Merle is actually scared of someone for once. But as the de facto leader whilst Rick, Daryl and Hershel are gone, he decides that it's a bad idea and that keeping Merle at the prison and fighting is the best chance they've got, which puts a disappointed yet worried look on Merle's face, showing his desperation to kill the Governor.
Later, Merle is seen packing guns into a duffel bag, in which he tells the group he is going to assassinate the Governor. Glenn becomes infuriated due to Merle not heeding his warning about putting Rick, Daryl and Hershel into a cross fire which could potentially kill them. Merle tries to leave but Glenn blocks the door, wanting Merle to stay put within the Prison. This infuriates Merle and his temper begins to ignite, so after a few warnings and Glenn repetitively saying for him to stay, a fight ensues. Merle grabs Glenn and pushes him away, but before he can open the door, Glenn tackles him and they fall down a small set of stairs. Merle is strangling Glenn until Maggie begins to choke him and Michonne holds his bayonet arm. Beth, with an annoyed look on her face, shoots the ceiling, which stops the confusion. Merle is left angrily telling Maggie and Michonne to let him go, which they do. After this, he meets Michonne alone, telling her that she is attractive and seductive, and they can end this by assassinating the Governor. She denies the offer, saying that, "killing him will result in more people getting killed, I ain't getting involved in that."
When Rick arrives back with the others, Merle asks if Rick was all alone with the Governor, he answers that he was. Merle walks by Glenn saying that they should've done it when they got the chance. He listens as Rick explains to the group that they are going to a war against The Governor and Woodbury.
Merle is at Cell Block B, ripping apart mattresses and looking for drugs. Rick approaches him and reveals that the Governor promised to leave the group alone as long as they give him Michonne. He wants Merle to do the dirty work, "You're cold as ice, Officer Friendly," Merle says before giving instructions of which kind of wire they will need to use to keep Michonne captive. He also doubts that the Governor will leave them alone, and mocks Rick for asking him to do this since he is ashamed of giving up Michonne's life like this, knowing that the Governor will slowly torture her. Merle is then seen watching the group from outside, he laughs at Rick's reaction next to Michonne, which draws Carol's attention. She questions if Merle is with the group or not, and he says that he is with the group because of his brother. She tells him to pick a side, he is with the group, or he is not. Merle reminds Carol that she used to be a scared and innocent woman back at the Atlanta camp.
Merle goes to the generator room to gather supplies to capture Michonne, when Daryl arrives and Merle says that he was only searching for crystal meth. Daryl asks him if he is going to do "it," and Merle says that he is, since nobody else has courage to do it. He also questions what happened to Daryl, because he isn't the same since he became friends with Rick, and laughs at him for always taking Rick's orders. Daryl says that he just wants his brother back. "Get outta here," Merle replies. Daryl walks off as Merle puts the supplies in a bag. He then takes Michonne to "the tombs" with an excuse that Rick told them to search for the breach Tyreese and his group used to get in, while she is distracted killing walkers, Merle knocks her unconscious and drags her into a room where he binds her wrists and covers her head with a bag. Later, Merle and a captive Michonne are walking down a road on their way to the meeting, he explains the deal Rick made with the Governor and how he didn't want to take any risks. Michonne tries to irritate Merle, but he ignores her and uses her katana to kill a walker that was approaching, he says that she could have escaped while he was doing this, but she says that she wouldn't leave without her sword, and they both strangely laugh. Further on, Merle stops to check if there is a car available to them, he tells Michonne not to take it personal because this is the only way he will be able to save his brother at the prison. Michonne notes that Merle has a conscience after all, but Merle disagrees, saying "I've killed 16 men since all this went down."
They come upon an abandoned motel, Merle tethers Michonne to a post while he hotwires a car. He accidentally triggers the alarm, attracting all the nearby walkers. Michonne is forced to fight the walkers with no weapons while Merle turns off the car alarm, he then frees Michonne from the post, they get in the car and drive off. In the car, she tells him how the group would welcome him with open arms, but instead he chooses to be an outsider. He also calls her an outsider, but she adds: "once the Governor's done with me, at least I won't have to live with myself." She wonders why Merle wants to deal with the Governor since he was the one who turned Merle into a killer, and Merle says that there is no way back from this path but Michonne says that they can go back to the prison. Merle stops the car, cuts the wire that were tied to her wrists and opens the door for her, he tells her to go back and gives her sword, "I got something I gotta do," he says, and drives off alone.
Merle is next seen outside a bar playing loud music inside the car while drinking alcohol. Walkers surround his car and he smiles. He slowly drives to the meeting, prompting the walkers to follow him along the way, when he arrives at the farm store, he bails out of the car allowing it to crash into the meeting area, still playing loud music, and the walkers who were following the car continue after it into the area. This forces the Woodbury soldiers waiting for Rick's arrival to defend themselves from the herd. Merle finds a hiding spot and grabs his assault rifle and starts shooting the Woodbury soldiers one by one. Due to the loud music and shots being fired against the walkers, the soldiers don't notice that it is an ambush. Merle finally spots the Governor helping his men to kill the walkers, Merle has dead aim at the Governor, but Ben unintentionally walks in the way and gets shot instead, saving the Governor's life. Immediately after the missed shot, a walker in the farm store almost bit Merle, attacking from the side but he managed to kill the walker after a struggle. The struggle revealed his location and the Woodbury soldiers attack and kick him to the ground. The Governor orders them to back off, saying that he is going to take care of Merle himself. The Governor drags Merle back into the farm store where he was hiding and starts beating him. An already severely weakened Merle fights back, but to no avail. The Governor chokes him and bites off two of Merle's fingers, before breaking his bayonet arm and finally stunning Merle. "I ain't gonna beg. I ain't gonna beg to you," says Merle weakly. The Governor pulls out his gun and shoots Merle in the chest, killing and dooming him to become a walker.
After the Governor and the Woodbury faction left, abandoning many of their dead, Merle reanimated and started feeding on Ben's corpse. Daryl, on a mission to rescue Merle, arrives and sees his brother as a walker. Daryl is immediately heartbroken and shocked. As Merle tries to attack him, Daryl pushes his undead brother back three times before finally dropping Merle to the ground and stabbing him in the face multiple times. Daryl then falls to the ground sobbing next to his dead brother.
- Killed By
- Himself (Indirectly Caused)
- The Governor (Alive)
Instead of handing Michonne to the Governor, Merle chooses to ambush and attempt to kill the Governor himself. During the ambush, Merle is eventually captured by the Woodbury soldiers and is severally beaten.
The Governor then grabs him and takes him back inside the building that Merle was shooting from. The Governor beats him, bites off two of his fingers on his left hand and breaks his right arm, before fatally shooting him in the heart.
- Daryl Dixon (Zombified)
Later, Daryl comes across a zombified Merle and begins to cry uncontrollably. A zombified Merle approaches Daryl, who pushes him back three times before stabbing him in the shoulder, knocking him to the ground and then stabbing him seven times in the face, putting him down.
This list shows the victims Merle has killed:
- Wilson (Alongside his fellow survivors)
- Tim (Accidental, Alive; Before Reanimation)
- Mean Guard (Caused)
- Ben (Accidental)
- 6 U.S. Military soldiers (Alongside his fellow survivors)
- 6 Woodbury soldiers (Direct or Caused)
- Himself (Indirectly Caused)
- Numerous counts of zombies and at least 8 other unnamed people
- Merle's words in "Tell It to the Frogs", when he is screaming, are almost identical to his last words to the Governor; in the sense that both times he would not beg for his life against greater odds.
- Also, Merle's final lines "I ain't gonna beg, I'm not begging you!" were not directed towards the Governor but rather God as revealed by Michael Rooker.
- Daryl Dixon's motorcycle was previously owned by Merle, but Merle is never seen riding it.
- The codename "Stoney" was used for Merle by the writing staff as seen on the call sheet for "This Sorrowful Life".
- Merle was 'The Suicide King', that inspired the episode's title.
- According to Shane Walsh, Merle was a drug dealer before the apocalypse.
- In Merle's bag of drugs, Blue Sky Meth can be seen, a specific nod to another AMC television series, Breaking Bad.
- The scene where Merle starts shooting off his gun on the roof top in Season 1 caused a little bit of real-life chaos; some people did not know they were filming and thought that the actor, Michael Rooker, was a sniper and called the police. A real SWAT team actually showed up. Fortunately, no one was arrested and filming continued as usual.
- Norman Reedus, Daryl's actor originally auditioned for the role of Merle. He was turned down but the creators liked his acting so much that they decided to write in the character of Daryl specifically for him.
- Merle is one of the many amputees in the series, having been forced to amputate his own right hand, and later having two of his fingers bitten off by the Governor.
- Merle has a number of ethnic slurs that he uses against people of different minorities to show his racism.
- Merle also has a tendency to call others with the names he makes up himself:
- Daryl Dixon (Baby Brother, Darlina (in Daryl's hallucination), Little Brother)
- Andrea (Blondie, Sugar Tits, Rug-Muncher, Whore)
- Morales (Taco Bender)
- T-Dog (Spear-Chucker, Mr. Yo)
- Caesar Martinez (Brownie)
- Gargulio (Neil)
- Mexican Man (Beaner)
- Mexican Baby (Cinderella)
- Michonne (Mute, Black Bitch, Nubian Queen, Sweetheart, Darling)
- Milton Mamet (Miltie)
- Maggie Greene (The Farmer's Daughter, Honey, Bo-Peep, Love-Birds)
- Rick Grimes (The Sheriff, Sheriff Rick)
- Glenn Rhee (Chinese Kid, Love-Birds)
- Merle also has a tendency to call others with the names he makes up himself:
- Michael Rooker lost 28 pounds in order to prepare for Merle's return in Season 3.
- In the TV Series, Merle is the first character to have a substitute appendage on an amputated limb.
- He is also the first main character in the TV Series to have an amputation, the second being Hershel Greene, the third being The Governor, the fourth being Bob Stookey, the fifth being Gareth, the sixth being Tyreese Williams, the seventh being Jessie Anderson, the eighth being Carl Grimes and the ninth being Aaron.
- Out of all these characters however, Merle is the only one to actually amputate his own limb himself and without the assistance of another; in this case he used a hacksaw to amputate his right hand to escape from a rooftop in Atlanta after being left behind by the group.
- Merle is the first original main character in the TV Series to die, the second being Beth Greene, the third being Sasha Williams and the fourth being Simon. Coincidentally, Merle and Beth were both very close to Daryl and their deaths made a huge impact on him. Also, they both appeared in the second episode of a season (the Season 1 episode "Guts" for Merle, and the Season 2 episode "Bloodletting" for Beth), and they both indirectly caused their own deaths and were shot dead by their arch-enemies (The Governor for Merle, and Dawn Lerner for Beth).
- "Made to Suffer" is the first episode where Merle and Daryl are physically seen together.
- Prior to his final shootout, he stated that he had killed 16 people since the apocalypse began. All of these were during his time in the Governor's inner circle.
- Merle has killed the eleventh largest amount of living characters on the TV show with a total of at least 25 victims (including himself indirectly in Merle's case), Rosita Espinosa has the tenth largest with at least 27, Michonne and Aaron are tied as having the ninth largest with at least 29, Ezekiel has the eighth largest with at least 39, Dwight has seventh largest with at least 42, Morgan Jones has the sixth largest with at least 45, The Governor has the fifth largest with at least 62, Rick Grimes and Daryl are tied as having the fourth largest with at least 68, Carol Peletier has the third largest with at least 93, Simon has the second largest with at least 172, and Negan has the largest with at least 225.
- Although Merle was usually unafraid of anyone that he was shown interacting with in the TV series, the Governor was the first and only character in the TV Series whom Merle was afraid of.
- As said by Greg Nicotero during his, and Laurie Holden's Q&A Panel at Walker Stalker Con Chicago 2014, Merle's death was not planned during the initial writing for the third season, his death came up on the last minutes before the shooting for "This Sorrowful Life" begun. Merle was supposed to be a recurring character in Season 4.
- Merle's outfit is available for purchase on the Xbox Live Avatar Marketplace for 240 Microsoft Points.
- Merle is one of three characters in the series to appear in a program outside of The Walking Dead; the others are Carol Peletier and his brother Daryl.
- Melissa McBride and Michael Rooker went into a 2013 episode of Conan O'Brien's talk show Conan, as Carol and Merle, in which the pair disrupts O'Brien's live studio audience under the guise of "hiding from walkers". Norman Reedus went into a 2015 episode of Saturday Night Live as Daryl, and shot Pete Davidson in the chest with a crossbow bolt during "Weekend update".
- In Season 1, Daryl is quoted as saying "Nobody can kill Merle but Merle". This would prove true as Merle's death is caused by him going on a suicide mission to kill the Governor.
- In an interview with Michael Rooker on comicbook.com, he was asked how Merle would react to Negan and what he has done to Daryl and the group as of Season 7. Michael responded by saying "I don't know if Merle would actually enjoy seeing his friends being abused." On Talking Dead Michael was asked if Merle would have sided with Negan, to which he replied "If Negan had something for Merle; Merle would have gone with Negan, yeah. But he wouldn't have completely stayed with Negan especially if his brother is in the prison there. That would have turned it really quickly."
- Merle is the second main character to be part of Rick's group and become an antagonist, the first being Shane Walsh, the third being Spencer Monroe and the fourth being Eugene Porter.
- Merle is also the first character on the show to have an antagonistic role for over a season and join Rick's group. The second being Eugene.
- ↑ Talking Dead November 13, 2011
- ↑ (CONTAINS SPOILERS) The Making of Episode 303, Walk With Me: Inside The Walking Dead The Walking Dead (October 28, 2013)