It takes a certain tenacity to survive in the post-apocalyptic landscape in which the show takes place. The Walking Dead is a show filled with strong-willed characters. Still, Negan’s brutal introduction was more than enough to destroy the will of many of the show’s regulars.

Rick Remains Defiant

Daryl and Rick on The Walking DeadImage Credit: AMC

After the deaths of Glenn and Abraham in the season premiere, Rick remained defiant. It wasn’t until Negan forced him into the position of having to cut off Carl’s arm, that he was truly broken.

Daryl was resilient, too. When Negan taunted Rosita after killing Abraham, Daryl jumped up and punched him in the face. After days of torture and starvation at the hands of the Saviors, Daryl finally accepted his new status. When he escaped in the mid-season finale, Daryl took out his frustrations on “Fat” Joey, killing him with a lead pipe.

Daryl Unbound

“Daryl has been the peacemaker, telling Rick in past seasons, “We still need to bring people in and trust people,” says The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman.

“And to see him snap shows how hard it has been for him at the Sanctuary and how much Negan has gotten under his skin.”

Later in that same episode, Rick Grimes eventually came around and realized the group had to stand up to Negan. Michonne helped convince him, but no one had to convince her. Like Maggie and Rosita, Michonne stayed defiant throughout the group’s ordeal with Negan.

Cracking Through A Tough Exterior

“Michonne hasn’t gone through that journey that Rick has gone through. Seeing Abraham and Glenn die broke Rick down,” says Kirkman. “But Michonne has always been in this mindset. That inspired him. Michonne is a stronger character than Rick Grimes. She handled this a lot better; she didn’t lose her nerve.

Seeing that in her is what changed Rick’s mind.”

Michonne lost her child and his father early in the walker apocalypse, which hardened her into the warrior we’ve come to know. It wasn’t until recently, with her relationships with Rick and Carl, that we’ve gotten to see the emotions underneath.

The Return of Rick Grimes

The good news is that things will be back to normal when the show returns in February. Rick and Daryl may have been broken down by Negan and his men, but they’re ready to fight now.

“[It’s] Rick Grimes back to being Rick Grimes; Daryl Dixon back to being Daryl Dixon; the whole group back together ready to kick some ass,” says Kirkman.

That’s great news!

What do you think? Is Michonne a stronger character than Rick Grimes? Will the combined strength of Michonne and Daryl be enough to propel Rick and the group to victory against Negan?