Soooo...we've agreed that whether Daryl is killed off or survives the entire show, it won't be because they are pandering to the audience? Excellent! In that case I vote that he survives, as worthless as my vote is.
I think Daryl will survive to the end, or at least close to the end. I don't think that AMC would let him be killed off. I think there must be some legal stuff that allows AMC to use him for marketing purposes in ways that they can't with the comic book characters.
Couldn't help but notice the AMC logo on that "survival instinct" video game (a logo that was not on the other "Walking Dead" game). "Survival Instinct" is of course the video game with Daryl Dixon. And it was Daryl's character who appeared in that super bowl commercial- none of the comic characters appeared in it.
Yeah, Daryl's character is popular, but the whole show is popular. They could have done a commercial with Daryl, Michonne, and at least one other character, but Daryl was the only one. I'm guessing that no other characters appeared in it because Kirkman probably wouldn't like the idea of his characters appearing in a commercial.
My impression is that the network has greater flexibility with Daryl when it comes to marketing purposes. They can put him in crappy video games and cheesy commercials without asking for Kirkman's permission.
Got no proof of this and if someone can correct me, feel free. Just a theory I have.