How does one judge the star power of a celebrity? Especially in an age where the value of a movie star at the box office is on the decline, there are many factors to consider: The salary they’re able to command, the awards they’ve won, their ability to get their passion projects made, or maybe even just whether or not people recognize them as they walk down the street. Which means that while Norman Reedus might not spring to mind as the biggest name on TV (especially in an age where the aforementioned movie stars are crossing over to the small screen regularly), right now he’s definitely thriving.
Having made his first appearance in The Walking Dead’s third-ever episode, back in 2010, the fan-favorite star went on to appear in 175 episodes of the series, the most of any actor to appear on the long-running zombie series. And now, he’s got his very own spin-off, the aptly-titled The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, premiering Sunday, Sept. 10th on AMC.
Actually, for accuracy’s sake — he doesn’t just have his own spin-off, he has his own programming block. AMC is actually leaning into this state of affairs — dubbing this Sunday’s premiere night as “Night with Norman, aka Une Nuit avec Norman.” — because following Daryl Dixon is the season premiere of Ride With Norman Reedus. It’s the sixth season premiere of Ride With, to be exact; there have been five prior seasons of the docuseries featuring Reedus and celebrity friends indulging in one of Reedus’s off-screen passions: motorcycles.
Financially, it’s a passion he’s a great position to explore. In 2018, Reedus’s reported salary for The Walking Dead was $1 million an episode, a salary that matches him with The Handmaid’s Tale star Elisabeth Moss and ranks him just below established stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon (who were each paid $1.1 million for the first season of what would become The Morning Show). Oh, and it’s literally double what Oscar winner Sean Penn got for the short-lived Hulu series The First, that same year. No verifiable information about Reedus’ Daryl Dixon salary was available, but it feels like a fair guess that it’s at least on par with that 2018 rate, if not higher.
Reedus becoming one of TV’s biggest stars happened relatively gradually, as The Walking Dead kept shedding cast members as seasons passed, with his true ascendancy coming in 2018, when original series star Andrew Lincoln left the show and by default, Reedus, Melissa McBride, and Danai Gurira essentially became co-leads, with Reedus proving to be the one who would outlast them all.
A major factor in Daryl’s appeal was that yes, his initial introduction was largely caught up in his anger at Rick for leaving his (racist) brother to die — being associated with Merle (Michael Rooker) from the jump wasn’t the strongest recommendation of his character. However, when it came to the business of surviving a zombie apocalypse, he was competent.