|This article is about the TV Series character. You may be looking for his Comic Series, Assault, or Road to Survival counterparts.|
Dale's age, calm experience, and RV provide the nucleus around which the small community of survivors formed. He is shown to be honest, reasonable and protective. He is sometimes profound, and is the elder of the group, though is also rather feisty, not afraid to speak his mind and call others out for mistakes in judgment. He attempts to serve as "the moral compass" of the group.
Over time he, Andrea, and Amy form their own little family unit and he finds spending time with them has helped bring him back to life in a way he never anticipated, as it gives him somebody he can attempt to influence. Dale is a fairly self-sufficient man, and ever watchful of the changing dynamics among the survivor community.
Dale was married to a woman named Irma for years. Early in their marriage, they had attempted to have a baby, but it ultimately miscarried, which led them to not try again. At some point later, she had developed cancer. Despite Dale bringing her to several doctors, she had already accepted the disease and her eventual death, much to his dismay.
Once he retired from his job, Dale planned to take his wife traveling with him across the country in a new RV he bought, but she died before that could happen. Her death brought him into a great depression and he found himself not caring about anyone around him. He decided to take his RV and do the trip alone.
During the onset of the outbreak, Dale encountered Andrea and Amy in Atlanta, and rescued them as the city was overrun. Sometime later, they encountered and joined a campsite of survivors outside the outskirts of the city. During their stay, Dale cared increasingly for the sisters, and used his RV as a type of command post for the group.
When the camp receives Rick's transmission, Dale reacts surprised and watches as Amy runs to the CB, but can't get a reply. By the time Shane takes over the CB controls and introduces himself, Rick has left the emergency broadcast channel. When Lori suggests that they should put signs up on the highway to warn people out of Atlanta, Dale agrees with her despite Shane arguing that venturing out on her own is too risky.
While keeping watch on the roof of his RV, Lori asks Dale to watch over her son, Carl, as she goes to pick berries and mushrooms in the forest. He tells her not to go far and to scream if she needs help. Later that day, Dale is working on his RV's radiator hose with Jim, while reasoning with Amy that worrying about Andrea's safety won't make it better.
Dale then listens surprised when T-Dog's garbled transmission comes through, explaining that they're trapped in the department store, surrounded by hundreds of walkers. Dale responds to the transmission but only radio silence follows. He then watches in silence as Amy and Shane argue about rescuing their fellow companions.
When the other survivors return from the scavenging mission in Atlanta, Dale greets all of them back and also introduces himself to newcommer Rick. Later that night, he sits around the fire and listens as Rick tells his story to the group and decides what to do about telling Daryl Dixon about his brother Merle Dixon. The next day, Dale strips Glenn Rhee's stolen car for parts he could use for the RV. When the children find a walker eating a dead deer that wandered nearby the campsite, Dale decapitates it but is then told by Daryl he needs to destroy the brain.
When Rick decides to go back to Atlanta for the Sheriff's Bag of Guns and Merle, he asks Dale for some tools, mainly a pair of bolt cutters to cut the chain and handcuffs to save Merle. Dale snivels about loaning out tools but then hands them over after making a deal in exchange for parts of the van Rick had brought to the camp so he could repair his RV's radiator hose. He then continues to watch over the campsite and tells Lori her son is in the lake with Shane.
While on lookout duty the next day, Dale notices Jim strangely digging holes on the hillside. He checks up on Jim and offers him water, but Jim ignores him, leaving Dale worried and confused, so he returns to the camp and alerts the other survivors about Jim's delirious behavior. They approach Jim as he keeps digging holes and Dale watches as Shane is forced to detain him. Later that evening, Dale finds Andrea in the RV looking for wrapping paper for Amy's birthday gift. He responds that he doesn't have any, but will try to look for something as a substitute.
That night, during the fish feast, Dale enjoys the food and company of his friends. When asked about his watch and how he is always winding it, he speaks of time and paraphrases a passage from William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. Moments later, the camp is attacked by walkers and Dale helps defend the remaining survivors.
The morning after the attack, Dale comforts Andrea over Amy's death by confessing that they both had been the first persons he cared for after his wife's death. While walking through the forest later that day to secure the camp, he is shocked to discover Shane pointing his shotgun at Rick from afar. Despite Shane excusing his behavior, Dale remains suspicious. As the group learns that Jim has been bitten, Dale and everyone struggle to decide what has to be done with him. When they argue about granting the man's wish to be left to die, he notes specifically that this is what Jim wants and that his say is the only one that matters. He and the rest give their goodbyes to him and leave for the CDC.
Upon being admitted into the CDC by Dr. Edwin Jenner, Dale and the group go through a blood test to ensure none of them are infected, and are introduced to the luxuries the facility has to offer, including hot water and real beds. After the group enjoys dinner together that night, he tries to comfort Andrea once again but she just tells him that everything is gone. When the group learns the next morning about TS-19 and the fall of the CDC's infrastructure, Dale asks Jenner about the countdown timer and he reveals the purpose of the timer and shuts the control room's door.
When the survivors finally get Edwin to open the door for their escape, Dale attempts to flee with Andrea, but she opts to remain behind to commit suicide. He manipulatively states that he is going to stay with her against Andrea's wishes after explaining that she doesn't get to make him care about her and just leave him. At the last minute, Dale and Andrea run out of the CDC and take cover as it explodes. The group then drives away.
With the CDC destroyed, the group decides to leave Atlanta and head to Fort Benning. Along the way, they become stranded on a highway full of abandoned vehicles and Sophia Peletier ends up getting lost in the woods due to a massive horde of walkers who took them by surprise. While members of the group look for her, Dale continues to be very concerned about Andrea's well-being due to her recent suicide attempt and refuses to return her weapon, eventually causing her to confess that she isn't grateful for what he had done since he stole her only opportunity to escape peacefully from the nightmare they were living and that she was not his concern.
While the rest of the group continues looking for Sophia, Dale and T-Dog watch over the RV. When T-Dog starts to get a fever and is delirious from the cut he suffered on his arm, he comments to Dale they are expendable to the rest of the group because they are the minorities and implies they should take the RV and leave together. Dale realizes T-Dog has a severe fever, possibly due to infection, and attempts to take care of him. When members of the group return and inform them of Carl being shot and that he was taken to a nearby farm, Dale tells Glenn to take T-Dog to the farm to be assisted as well while he, Andrea, Daryl, and Carol would continue looking for Sophia.
While keeping watch that night, Dale reflects and thinks about what Andrea had told him that morning. When she returns from the woods with Daryl, he finally hands Andrea her gun and tells her he acknowledges the decisions he made were not his to make and, still fearing her suicidal tendencies, tells her not to make him regret giving her gun back. As she enters the RV, Dale asks if she forgives him, to which Andrea responds she's trying to.
The following morning, Dale and the rest of the group arrive at the farm and everyone happily reunites as Rick and Lori share news about Carl's recovery. When Shane retells Otis' death, Dale is obviously wary over the inconsistencies in the story. While setting up a temporary camp in the middle of the farm, he saves T-Dog's life before he could drink the contaminated water and helps his companions deal with the walker that fell into the well.
With the group able to continue the search for Sophia from the farm, Dale and Glenn have a talk about the women in the group and their behaviours lately. When Glenn confesses he has started a relationship with Maggie Greene, Dale claims that could jeopardize the permanence of the group in the farm but Glenn answers he just thought about how he can die at any moment. When Andrea, despite Dale's warnings, shoots and wounds Daryl after confusing him with a walker, Dale comforts her and tells her that everyone wanted to shoot Daryl at one point. That night, he joins both groups of survivors inside the Greene house for the well prepared dinner by the women.
When Glenn reveals Lori's pregnant and Hershel's barn is full of walkers, Dale tries to find a solution to the problems. He confronts Hershel about the barn but Hershel replies saying that the walkers are still people, especially since his wife and step-son are in the barn. Dale then talks with Lori about how his wife had miscarried and assures her that the baby can have good memories, but he sits in silence when Lori asks if he thinks her child could live a long life.
Later that day, Dale realizes Andrea and Shane had sex during their search mission. He finally confronts Shane about the night Otis died and brings up Shane’s attempted murder of Rick. Dale tells him its time for him to leave because he knows who he really is, leading Shane to challenge Dale and threating to kill him.
After Glenn reveals to the rest of the group about Hershel's barn full of walkers, Dale explains to them that Hershel sees the walkers as just sick people, and that his wife and step-son are in the barn. Worried for her well-being and jealous over her closeness to Shane, he also tells Andrea not to trust Shane and that she doesn't really know him. When she ignores his warnings, Dale takes the bag of guns and sneaks away from the camp to the swamps.
While hiding the bag of guns, Shane finds Dale and says the only way he'll stop him from taking the guns is if Dale shoots him. Despite considering doing it, he can't pull the trigger and returns the guns. Dale says he'd rather be who he is than becoming a monster in the new world. He later returns at the farm as the group shoots at the walkers from the barn and watches in shock as a zombified Sophia emerges from inside the barn before being put down by Rick.
Following the barn massacre, Dale sits in silence as Shane asks him what he has done to keep the camp safe and acuses him of being useless. After the funeral, Andrea, and T-Dog pile corpses into Otis's truck, saying that Shane did what needed to be done. Dale protests, suggesting that a new problem with Hershel was created in the wake of resolving the safety concern of the barn walkers. He also reveals to Lori that he believes Shane shot Otis and left him as bait to cover his escape, and that it's only a matter of time before he kills someone else again.
When in an outburst Shane reveals Lori is pregnant, Dale and Andrea try to help her by looking after a confused Carl. The next day, he tells Andrea that Shane is dangerous and that Shane doesn't want Rick or Hershel to come back so he can be leader but Andrea doesn't believe him and walks off. When Rick and the others finally return from the nearby town, Dale and the group discover they have brought a stranger as well.
When Daryl finds out Randall's group is dangerous, Rick decides to kill him for the group's safety. Dale is opposed to it and tells him that they can't just kill him, so he asks for the rest of the day to convince the others to agree with him. Rick tells him they will put it to the vote. Despite asking people around, including Shane, no one agrees with him.
Later that day at the meeting, Dale makes an impassioned plea to the group to spare Randall, however, he only gets Andrea to side with him. Feeling disapointed at everyone for choosing to kill Randall, he expresses disgust over this and leaves the house but not before telling Daryl that the group was indeed broken.
That night, Dale patrols around the farm when he is suddenly attacked by a walker from behind and is brutally disemboweled. When the group comes to his aid, Rick tells Hershel that he needs to operate on Dale as he would not make the trip back inside, but Hershel silently tells Rick that Dale can't be saved. As Rick is unable to euthanize Dale, Daryl decides he will do it and takes Rick's gun. He apologizes to Dale before putting him out of his misery.
The group then buried Dale at dawn and during the funeral Rick honored his memory by promising that from now on they would do everything possible to hold on to their humanity.
In a hallucination, Rick walks through a floor full of the corpses of his friends and loved ones, among them Dale.
- Killed By
Dale is patrolling around the farm at night when he stumbles across a partially devoured cow. After hearing something behind him, Dale turns around and is ambushed by a walker that had freed itself from the swamp, after Carl had provoked it earlier that day.
Although he is able to prevent himself from being bitten, the walker rips open Dale's stomach.
- Daryl Dixon (Out of Mercy)
Daryl, hearing Dale's cries for help, comes to his rescue and kills the walker. The rest of the group reaches the dying Dale, bleeding from his wounds. Rick demands that they move Dale to the house to operate on him, but Hershel informs him that he would be unable to save Dale in his critical condition.
Rick lifts his gun and points it at Dale's head in an attempt to put him out of his misery, but can not bring himself to do so. Instead, Daryl takes Rick's gun, points it at Dale and says, "Sorry, brother," before shooting him.
This list shows the victims Dale has killed:
- Numerous counts of zombies
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- Prior to Dale's death, it was reported that a cast member wanted to leave the show and then had a change of heart after original showrunner Frank Darabont was fired. This cast member was later assumed to be Jeffrey DeMunn. It was later confirmed by Chandler Riggs and Darabont that DeMunn departed from The Walking Dead due to Darabont's firing, but neither made mention of DeMunn changing his mind.
- Dale is one of only 3 main characters from the original Atlanta group to have never killed a living person, the others being Andrea and Lori Grimes.
- Dale's death shows irony.
- He comforts Andrea due to the fact that she feels bad for accidentally shooting and almost killing Daryl Dixon. He says "Besides, we've all wanted to shoot Daryl". Later on, when Dale gets mutilated by a walker, Daryl was the one to mercifully kill him by shooting him.
- Dale was also Daryl's first human kill.
- Dale's most used weapon was a rifle called Remington 700 VLS which he used until his death. Significantly, the rifle was used later frequently by Rick Grimes, but the current location of the rifle or who currently possesed it is unknown.
- In the episode "The Distance" while the group is driving to Alexandria, their RV breaks down. Glenn Rhee then fixes the problem by replacing a dead battery; Abraham Ford asks how Glenn knows that, to which Glenn replies with a knowing smile. This, although not confirmed, could be a nod to the moments when Dale was teaching Glenn about how to fix the RV.
- The final five episodes of Season 5 ("Remember", "Forget", "Spend", "Try", "Conquer") are all references to Dale's campfire story from Season 1: "I like what the father said to the son when he gave him a watch that had been handed down through generations. He said: 'I give you a mausoleum of all hope and desire which will fit your individual needs, no better than it did mine and my father before me. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you may forget it. For a moment, now and then, and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it.'"
- Dale's death has a coincidental poetic quality to it. He dies right after protesting the killing of Randall Culver, insisting that they should give him a fair shot like any civilized society would do. After his death, the group begins to shed any semblance of old norms and societal conditioning, committing more and more morally questionable acts. For the Atlanta group, Dale's death truly was the death of reason and civilization, much like what Dale lamented would happen.
- Dale is the first main character to predecease his comic counterpart, with the second being Lori Grimes, the third being Andrea, the fourth being Carl Grimes, the fifth being Jesus, and the sixth being Siddiq.
- Dale is the first main character in the series to die.