However, it was Season 2 that further developed these characters and many of them began transformations that evolved into the characters they are today. Today, I'll break down how this second season transformed Rick, Hershel, Daryl, Carl, Glenn, Maggie and the others into the stronger characters they developed into. I'll start with everyone's favorite redneck - Daryl Dixon.
In the second season, however, we began to see a new Daryl Dixon emerge. First, in the season's premiere episode (What Lies Ahead) Daryl actually rescued T-Dog, who was about to become walker chow due to a bad cut on his arm. This was likely a surprise to all viewers, as Daryl hated T-Dog's guts in all prior episodes. Of all people to save T-Dog, it was Daryl. This put an interesting spin on things and showed that he actually cared about anyone whose name was not Merle.
Perhaps feeling guilty for failing to rescue his brother Merle, Daryl worked harder than anyone else to find the missing Sophia. He began to find something of a role for himself as the group's hunter. When it was discovered that Sophia was dead all along, Daryl went into a depression and again isolated himself from the group. But he was smart all along, even realizing that Shane killed Otis despite Shane's story of Otis dying a tragic hero. He also envied Shane's position as Rick's right hand man, telling Dale, "Rick just looks to Shane...let him!.. This group is broken." Daryl felt that the rest of the group (with the exception of Dale) looked at him as white trash.
Perhaps sensing the ever-growing tension between Rick and Shane over leadership, Daryl finally stepped up in Judge, Jury, and Executioner. He served as the group's enforcer, beating the snot out of Randall to get information out of his about his rival gang. Also, when Rick attempted to execute Randall, he made sure to bring Daryl with him along with Shane. This was the beginning of Rick beginning to trust Daryl. By the episode's end, Daryl officially became Rick's right-hand man when he put down a dying Dale. After that, Rick recruited Daryl to go with him to drop Randall off. Though the plan didn't work out (Shane kidnapped and murdered Randall before they could) it showed that Rick trusted Daryl and looked to him for support. After Shane was dead, Daryl became Rick's closest male ally, something he still is today.
We also saw Daryl open up a bit this season as he developed a soft spot for Carol. Both Carol and Daryl had been abused previously (Carol by her husband Ed, and Daryl by his brother and father). The two bonded over this and became something of an item. To make a long story short, Daryl Dixon became the anti-hero fans love during season 2.
The turning point was the moment the zombie Sophia came staggering out of Hershel's barn. Though the entire group was shocked by this, Rick (perhaps feeling guilty) was the one who walked forward and blew her zombie brains out.
Rick began to lose hope and transitioned slowly into a darker character after this point. In fact, during the very next episode, (Nebraska) Rick swiftly murdered two manipulative hoodlums named Dave and Tony in a bar. He did it without hesitation, and it was a shock to the viewers as much as it was to Glenn and Hershel. If the group had encountered Dave and Tony in previous episodes, Rick would have tried negotiating with them or outsmarting them somehow. Killing them would have been the absolute last resort. But Rick's natural cop instincts and darkening mindset spelled doom for Dave and Tony, the latter of whom fell into a pool of his own piss after being shot.
But Rick still tried hanging on to his morality. He insisted on bringing an injured Randall back to the group's farm. Later, after Shane attempted to kill him at outside of a school, Rick came back for his friend. (18 Miles Out). Shane famously told Rick in that episode, "You can't be the good guy and expect to live....you can't keep them (Lori and Carl) safe." Shane felt that Rick's good intentions would get him and the group killed, and constantly told him that the "right decision is the one that keeps us alive!" Shane was right, but Rick didn't realize it until later.
But Rick still had a lot of heart, as he couldn't bring himself to execute Randall a few episodes later. But the former sheriff reached the point of no return when he murdered Shane. From that moment on, Rick became emotionally distant - his only priority was to keep his group safe. He was now a cold, relentless leader. Even his wife Lori was treated with a sort of imperious disdain. Though Shane was dead, his spirit lived on in this new version of Rick. Although he briefly gave up leadership during the first half of season 4, Rick returned to his "ricktatorship" later in the series. At the start of the second season, Rick was an everyman still living by the rules of the pre-apocolypse. By the end, however, he was a hardened warrior who had fully adapted to the new world.
The Greenes (Hershel and Maggie)
Carl learned from this, however, and kind of made up for it by gunning down the zombie Shane who (again) tried to kill Rick. (Shane just doesn't give up, does he?) Carl just couldn't stay in the house this season, but this is partially the blame of LORI, who never kept her eye on him. (She was too busy manipulating Rick and Shane and crashing Maggie's car). We learned in season 2 that Carl was a great shot with a gun. My point though, is that although Carl didn't change much here, this was the beginning of the tough and fearless Carl we have today.
Other characters underwent minor changes throughout the season but not as extreme as the characters I mentioned above. Carol, for example, became a bit hardened after the loss of her daughter, even refusing to attend the funeral. It wasn't until seasons 3 and 4 that she became the tough, badass Carol that she is today. Likewise, Beth was also present during season 2 but did not develop as a character until seasons 3 and 4. If I missed anyone or if you have any thoughts or comments, feel free to leave them below!
Have a Dugger Day! :)