It’s really easy to line out some similarities between John Pope (designated Falling Skies Token Evil Team Mate) and Daryl Dixon (designated Walking Dead Loner). Both were introduced with a “bigger evil” brother – Pope’s brother raped Maggie, Merle Dixon is a racist crackhead with a bad temper. Both immediately lost said brother right after the introduction, basically making them Evil by Association only – Pope’s brother got a Karmic Death delivered by Maggie, Merle got a Fate Worse Than Death when he was left behind, handcuffed to a rooftop about to be overrun by zombies. Both Pope and Daryl got stuck with the “good guys” due to their legit survival skills – Pope knew how to efficiently kill skitters, Daryl knew how to hunt for food. Both had moments when they were nearly-turned “good” by saving kids – Pope when he came back to help the children Clayton wanted to hand over to the skitters, Daryl went looking for Carol’s lost daughter for no less than half the season and seemed to be the only person who genuinely cared about finding her. Even more significant: Both Pope and Daryl were introduced making slightly racist comments about the asian guys Dai and Glenn and the black guys Anthony and T-Dogg, respectively. After this first remark, neither ever brought up any issues with the asians later, yet both moved on to save the black guys lives. Needless to say, both are also Badass Bikers and both are widely considered as the Ensemble Darkhorses of their shows, and if you look closer, you notice that Daryl often prepares his food, which can be counted as “both can cook”. See, it’s really really easy.
A bit too easy to get too attached to the idea that “Pope is a copy of Daryl and in general, Falling Skies copies The Walking Dead”. I’ve never understood fandom wars and why everything remotely similar to something else needs to be compared in every detail. I love both Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5, two shows that are more frequently accused of “copying the other” than anything. Yes, there are similarities. Both have a big, intergalactic war going on; both have a space station and a guy with a big ass important spiritual destiny to fulfill; godlike aliens that interfere in the dealings of the mortals; space battles and the occupation of one alien world by another, more ruthless alien species. If I wanted to, I could probably just take two random characters; one from each show, and compare them to death. However, that’s already been done to death by others and didn’t lead to any conclusions whatsoever. Both shows are still completely awesome, period.
Yes, Walking Dead and Falling Skies have a similar premise. The world went to hell, now one group fights zombies, the other aliens. And yes, there are Pope and Daryl, who look similar at first glance. But that’s a flawed thought, because they don’t have the same feedback options to develop – the characters around them, for beginners. They also aren’t as similar if you look deeper.
Pope is clearly an extrovert person with a big mouth, and he was also clearly in charge of the gang, making his brother a follower. Hell, Pope goes so far to insult the intelligence of his brother while said brother is bleeding to death a few steps behind him. And after he’s dead, Pope doesn’t care at all – he never brings it up and just settles for some new followers shortly after. Pope also doesn’t take shit – or orders, for that matter – from Tom Mason or Dan Weaver. When he disagrees with them, he takes matters and most notably a gun into his own hands and tries to fix the issue in a pretty straight forward manner, and upon failure, deals with the consequences.
Daryl, on the other hand, is very clearly an introvert. He does bring up the fact that Rick Grimes (and to a degree, T-Dogg) effectively sentenced his brother to death, if only for the sake of “well, he’s kind of a jerk, but he’s still my brother”. His hallucination later reveals that Daryl is as much a victim of Merle’s temper as everyone else, likely even more. Where Pope decides to save the kids because of a principle – “the skitters want the kids and I hate skitters, hence I don’t let them have what they want” – Daryl truly cares about finding Sophia because he relates to her and the situation of being lost and alone. Pope walks around the camp like he owns it and stirs up trouble by stating unpopular facts (such as the possibility that Tom was brainwashed); Daryl withdraws to solitude when the group drama shit hits the fan and refuses to take sides in any conflicts between the others. He clearly accepts the leadership claim of Rick, even after Rick has a major freakout moment; and doesn’t even challenge his position when Carol calls him out to do so. Pope, on the other hand, refuses to acknowledge there is a chain of command to begin with, only follows the orders he sees as right, but dismisses everything else – going so far to challenge Tom’s orders while surrounded by skitters in the woods.
Yes, both Pope and Daryl have trust issues. But Pope seems perfectly fine with it – he never really trusted anyone to begin with and sees no reason to change that, as circumstances show him again and again it would be a mistake. Daryl never learned what trust really is, so he has nothing to dismiss due to circumstances. If anything, he tries to trust the group and most notably the leadership of Rick.
And those factors – extrovert vs. introvert, experience vs. principle, seeing no need to trust vs. having no ability to trust – are the important ones; the things that clearly set Pope and Daryl apart and prevent them from being copies of the other. Their motivations are polar opposites and the importance of motivation outweights any Badass Biker gimmick.