'We Move On': The Walking Dead Star Michael Rooker Mocks Show's Treatment Of His Character

Michael Rooker starred on The Walking Dead for three seasons, and critiques how his time on the show ended. Rooker's character, Merle, had a redemption arc but was killed off in Season 3.

Published on Jul 07, 2024  |  10:03 PM IST |  35.2K
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Michael Rooker and Kevin Costner share a commonalities beyond their roles in Horizon: An American Saga - Part 1, both being based on popular television shows, but Rooker believes it's okay to move on. Rooker, known for his role as Merle Dixon in The Walking Dead, recently starred in the acclaimed series Yellowstone.

Costner, who starred in the series, dropped out of the final season due to scheduling issues. Rooker compared Costner's departure to how he left The Walking Dead personally.

Michael Rooker recalls his character's death in The Walking Dead 

Michael Rooker, a star of The Walking Dead, has expressed no ill will towards the show's creative team despite a rough ending after three seasons. He believes this is the way things happen in the industry, and that he has to move on. Rooker compared his departure from the show to that of his Horizon co-star and director, Kevin Costner, who left the show just before its ending.

Along with some words of affirmation for Costner, reassuring the man behind John Dutton that he would still be loved by the fanbase, Rooker also took some jabs at the writers behind The Walking Dead, commenting, "But we all [move on]. That’s what we do. We’re actors. We move on. We do The Walking Dead. I get killed off. I don’t know why. They don’t know how to write for the character! So, I move on.”

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Rooker’s Merle was a personality created specifically for the series and never appeared in the comic books. Misogynist, racist, and fully stuck in his ways, Merle was a hard character for the audience to come around to, but by Season 3, he had a full redemption arc only to be struck down, brought back as a zombie, and killed again by his beloved brother.

Reedus' Daryl survived the show's eleven-season run and a successful spin-off, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon. Merle earned his redemption and bowed out, earning recognition for his role. Rooker says he never turned back on the fandom for his role, despite not appearing in the latter eight seasons.


Sending well wishes to Costner, who may now be worried about his Yellowstone followers, Rooker explained, "They’re still there. My fans from The Walking Dead, the Merle Dixon fans, they’re still there. And nothing wrong with that. Yes [Yellowstone fans will still love Costner]. It’ll be okay.”

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A brief about Michael Rooker and Kevin Costner's Horizon 

Horizon: An American Saga is a film series featuring four American epic westerns, directed by Kevin Costner and co-written with Jon Baird, based on an original story co-authored by Costner, Baird, and Mark Kasdan.

The plot centers around fictional characters and takes place in pre- and post-Civil War America, and details the exploration of the American West. Depicting a twelve-year span, the movies feature an ensemble cast portraying various characters and their experiences pioneering into new territory from their homes.

In the movie, Michael Rooker plays the role of  Sgt. Major Thomas Riordan, an Union Army officer in the ongoing Civil War. The official description says the film “explores the lure of the Old West and how it was won—and lost—through the blood, sweat and tears of many.” 

Chapter 2 is expected to be released on August 16, but the other two movies have not been completed. Costner funded Horizon with his own money, having spent at least $20 million just in the first two movies. He also reportedly raised an additional $50 million through fundraising, which is further proof of his dedication.

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ALSO READ: Hugh Jackman Pokes Fun At His Own Self-Care Routine; See HERE

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