Norman Reedus is 44 years hot as of today, Sunday, January 6, 2013. In honor of Norman's big day, we're sharing five reasons why we love The Walking Dead and The Boondock Saints star.

1. Because he's Daryl motherfking Dixon!
Daryl Dixon wasn't even in the original Walking Dead comics, but on the strength of Norman's performance, the squirrel hunter is now a fan-favorite character. He is the coolest survivor of the zombie apocalypse and the guy we’d most like beside us in the real event. Thankfully, previews for the second half of Season 3 have shown that Daryl does survive his trip to Woodbury (phew!),  although we're still curious to see how he gets out  and how his brother Merle (Michael Rooker) is involved.

Credit: ‏@wwwbigbaldhead Photo: Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln of The Walking Dead

2. Because he supports “Caryl” shippers and has a bromance with Andrew Lincoln
Many fans would love to see a romance between Daryl and Carol (Melissa McBride) on TWD. In fact, one fan even made this great video for them, inspired by Beauty and the Beast, and Norman tweeted his appreciation. (Not that he’s endorsing a full Caryl love story.) But Daryl doesn’t just have chemistry with Carol; he is Rick’s right-hand man, and Rick even admitted that he needs Daryl. How cute is that? We love Norman. We love Andy. And when they get together for their bromantic moments, it’s like the love explosion in those his and hers K-Y jelly commercials. 

Credit: YouTube Photo: The Walking Dead's Carol and Daryl Get Awesome Beauty and the Beast Treatment (VIDEO)

3. Because he appreciates strong women
Carol doesn’t exactly qualify as a strong woman, but in real life, Norman was recently on MTV and they asked him which three people he’d want to fight beside him during a real zombie apocalypse. He first answered Lucy Liu, then his son Mingus, then Olivia Newton-John. Lucy would probably kick some serious ass, so good for him for picking her. Olivia is kind of random, but she may surprise everyone. And of course he’d want to save his son, who’d hopefully not go down the Carl path of throwing rocks at walkers.

Credit: @wwwbigbaldhead Photo: Norman Reedus's Black Cat

4. Because he loves his cat
Some guys wear their hatred for cats like a badge of honor — as if it makes them cool. Hell no! Let a real cool man tell you otherwise. When he was done shooting Season 3, Norman drove from Georgia back to New York with his black cat on his lap. As he told GQ, "My son wanted a black kitten when he was a kid, and I found it in the East Village in some rescue shelter, but it was born in a box and the guy that was getting rid of it was like, 'You don't want this cat. This cat's never gonna love anyone.' And the first time I saw it, it was like just hissing and scratching everything it saw, and now it's like this big, fat, chill cat." See? Even angry cats love him.

5. Because he loves his fans!
Norman has many, many fans, and unlike some celebs who distance themselves from “normal” people, Norman embraces his fans — tweeting links and shout-outs from @wwwbigbaldhead, posing with fans at events, and always thanking fans for the presents they send him. He seems to get gifts all year long, and probably doesn’t need more, but he’s sure to get plenty for his b-day. Just don’t bother sending him an implant — a lady fan already sent him one, and he’s using it as a phone cradle.
 
Happy b-day, man!

Catch up on all kinds of Walking Dead recaps, spoilers, news, videos and polls at Wetpaint.com/the-walking-dead.