Walking Dead Wiki

Attention! Please be aware that spoilers are not allowed on the wiki and a violation of this policy may result in a ban. Information (character deaths/fates, screenshots, etc.) from episodes released early on AMC+ may not be added to the wiki until the episode officially airs at 9pm EST on the Sunday it is scheduled for. Thank you.


Walking Dead Wiki
Walking Dead Wiki

"They risk their lives, every time they go out there. Has to be worth it, has to matter. He lost sight of that, so he lost them. Beth, in this job you don't need their love. But you have to have their respect. Otherwise, the day's gonna come when you need backup and you don't have it. And what comes next? Everybody goes down."
—Dawn to Beth Greene about why she killed her captain, Hanson.[src]

Dawn Lerner is an antagonist and a survivor of the outbreak in AMC's The Walking Dead. She was the leader of a group of police officers residing at Grady Memorial Hospital, who attempts to maintain peace in the brutalized and corrupt system she runs.

However, Dawn's leadership flaws lead to compromises and trouble among the officers and the people she forcibly keeps inside the place. She served as one of the two primary antagonists for the first half of Season 5 (along with Gareth).


Dawn is described as "A formidable woman. She is stern, focused and intensely pragmatic, but has a tendency to crack under pressure and lash out violently. Though she presents a stoic facade, she has a softer side that she feels the need to suppress in order to be an effective leader. She is charismatic with a vibrant energy…"

As time progresses, it's revealed Dawn's real facade was her softer side. As seen on many occasions, she would use this persona with vulnerable individuals to make them believe she cared deeply for them, when in actuality this was a manipulation tactic for her own personal gain, most infamously used with her ward Beth Greene. Despite Dawn protecting her, her seemingly kind actions were not for Beth's personal welfare, but for her own benefit as her kind treatment towards her would direct her to feel inclined to side with Dawn in case of a debacle questioning her leadership became the topic of conversation among the hospital. An example of such an incident occurring was during a brawl between Dawn and one of her officers, with Beth pushing him down an elevator shaft in order to save the matriarch.

As for her charisma and vibrant energy, it consisted of violence and a deeply overbearing nature. This is directly highlighted when a valuable patient was being lost, causing Dawn to smack Beth in the face in order to gain some measure of control, and perhaps the most obvious evidence was when she threatened action unless Rick's group returned Noah to her. Dawn did this knowing that Noah would give himself up thus giving her power and control over the situation, further proving the manipulative nature of her character.


Atlanta, Georgia

Dawn was a police officer with the Atlanta Police Department. She worked closely with police sergeant Bob Lamson, as well their senior officer, Captain Hanson.


Season 5


Dawn is first introduced when Beth Greene wakes up in Grady Memorial Hospital. Dawn tells her that Beth owes her officers for saving her.

She is later seen whisking in Gavin Trevitt, who fell from a second floor window. After she learns that Trevitt is a doctor, she urges their current physician, Dr. Steven Edwards, to save his life, despite his protests. When Dr. Steven tries to explain to Dawn that the man can't be saved, Dawn slaps Beth to motivate him, re-opening her sutured cheek.

She later forces Beth to help Dr. Steven amputate Joan's arm after she was bitten trying to escape. Joan tries to resist, but Dawn refuses to let her die and cuts her arm off.

Dawn brings Beth some food and Beth tells her she's not staying any longer than they make her. Dawn tries to sell her on staying at the hospital. She thinks that the world will return to normal and it's important to keep safety and order. "Try to look at the good we're doing," she tells Beth. Beth eats the food but doesn't seem to change her decision to leave.

When Gavin dies, Dawn demands to know what happened, Noah takes the blame, saying he accidentally unplugged the ventilator. Dawn tells an officer to take Noah to her office. When Beth tries to explain what happened to Dr. Edwards, he says, "You gave him Clonazepam (a different drug, a sedative), right?" Beth is confused and hears Noah being beaten in the other room.

Later, Dawn comes to Beth's room. She knows that Noah didn't unplug the ventilator. She says she had to beat Noah. She proceeds to tell Beth that she isn't the greater good and hence isn't keeping her worth. "The wards keep my officers happy. The happier my officers are the harder they work to keep us going." She is later seen patrolling the hospital and Beth tells her that Gorman and Joan are looking for her in her office. When she arrives, she is attacked by a zombified Joan and the officer with her is killed before she can kill Joan. She later puts both officers down before they can turn and meets with Beth after she is recaptured.

Dawn calls Beth out for having Gorman killed but is shocked when Beth retaliates with the fact that Gorman tried to rape her and Dawn let it happen. She tries to justify her actions and tells Beth that she believes government forces will eventually rescue everyone, but Beth is not very convinced by this. Dawn looks at the floor and sees a shattered picture of her and Hanson before lashing out at Beth again.


At the hospital, Dawn is dealing with her officer’s inability to find Noah while Beth mops the floor and listens. When the conversation turns to Carol Peletier, who was injured and brought in the day before, and the officer wants to let Carol die, Beth interrupts on Carol’s behalf. Her outburst prompts Dawn to back the officer against Beth by telling the officer to pull the plug on Carol. When the officer leaves, Dawn explains this, and that she can't help Carol. She gives Beth a key to the drug locker and tells her to save Carol.


Dawn is shown exercising in the beginning while talking to Beth about the situation with her group. O'Donnell laters confronts Dawn and engages in a brutal fight with her for control of the hospital. Beth saves Dawn by pushing O'Donnell down the elevator shaft to his death. Dawn agrees to the exchange Rick Grimes proposes where she gives Beth back to the group, but she changes the terms and states she wants Noah back as well. Beth approaches Dawn and states she understands now, before stabbing her in the shoulder with a concealed pair of scissors; this results in Dawn accidentally firing her gun into Beth's head, killing her instantly. Horrified at what she has done, she attempts to plead that it was an accident, only to be shot in the head and killed by an enraged Daryl Dixon.


Killed By

Shortly after the trade between Rick's group and the Grady Memorial survivors, Dawn demands Noah to be returned to her. After Noah agrees to return, Beth runs up to him and hugs him, before turning to Dawn.

Beth tells Dawn that she "gets it now", as she slips the scissors out from beneath her cast and stabs her vest in a futile attempt to prove her point. Dawn reflexively pulls out her gun and shoots Beth in the head, instantly killing her.

Dawn, horrified by what she has done, begs for Rick's group to wait before doing anything, but Daryl vengefully approaches her and then shoots her in the head in cold blood.

Killed Victims

This list shows the victims Dawn has killed:

  • Hanson
  • Gavin Trevitt (Before Reanimation)
  • Joan (Zombified)
  • Gorman (Before Reanimation)
  • Jeffries (Before Reanimation)
  • O'Donnell (Caused)
  • Beth Greene (Accidental)
  • Herself (Indirectly Caused)
  • Numerous counts of Grady Memorial Hospital patients (Alive, Caused, Before Reanimation, or Zombified)
  • Numerous counts of zombies and unnamed people


Beth Greene

"No, I didn't mean to-!"
—Dawn to Rick and the rest of the group after she accidentally shoots Beth in the head[src]

Dawn and Beth are shown to have a strained relationship, the two of them not trusting each other. Dawn tells Beth she "owes them" because they saved her, though this seems to be something that all new arrivals are told. When Steven Edwards tells Dawn that Gavin Trevitt cannot be saved, Dawn angrily responds by slapping Beth on the cheek, causing her suture to reopen. After Trevitt died due to Beth accidentally administering the wrong drug, Noah takes the blame but Dawn knew Beth was the cause. She tells Beth that she is doing everything for the greater good and Beth isn't the greater good. After Beth is subdued by an officer when attempting to escape the hospital with Noah, she is brought to Dawn's office. Beth tells her nobody will come to save them, so everything Dawn is doing is useless. Dawn looks at a picture of her and Hanson, who she "dealt with" for the greater good before knocking Beth unconscious, straining their relationship further. By the time we get to "Crossed" her relationship with Beth, despite an escape attempt by Beth, appears to have improved to the point where she can talk to Beth without hitting her. She appears to help Carol by giving Beth the key to the drugs cabinet and telling her to go and treat her. It's unclear as to what her intentions are at this point.

In "Coda" their relationship seems to be more stable. Dawn tells Beth that she knows what actually happened to Jeffries, and how her colleagues will react once they found out what she did to Gorman if she had not covered it up just to protect her from the harm that the others could do to her. Beth seems to be indifferent towards the fact that Dawn has been protecting her this whole time in the place. When Dawn got into a fight with O'Donnell, Dawn seems to care enough to keep her safe, telling her to stay out of the way. The girls assist each other in the fight, which eventually killed O'Donnell by getting pushed down the elevator shaft.

However, it was revealed that Dawn's reason for keeping Beth safe was to eliminate her colleagues that she does not trust, letting Beth do the dirty work. Beth's distrust towards Dawn increases after the revelation.

When Rick, Daryl, and the rest of the group arrive at the hospital to pick Beth and Carol up from the hospital, Beth is irritated with Dawn for not letting Noah go with her and her group. When Noah agrees to stay, to avoid conflict between the groups. Beth hugs him and glances hatefully towards Dawn when she murmurs that she knew that Noah would come back to the hospital. The two look at each other intensely, before Beth tells her she gets it now and stabs her in the shoulder, causing Dawn to instinctively pull out her gun and pull the trigger, shooting Beth in the head. In the midst of the shock, Dawn tries to convince Daryl, who is seen walking towards her angrily with a gun ready to fire, that it was all just an accident, that she did not mean to kill Beth, implying that, despite their relationship, she did not wish to do any harm towards Beth.

In "What Happened and What's Going On", Rick acknowledges to Michonne that he could tell that Dawn killing Beth was only an accident, but Rick still wanted her dead for it anyways.

Steven Edwards

"Only on her bad days...it's unfortunate for us that that's the only kind she has."
—Steven Edwards on the subject of Dawn's violent outburst

Dawn and Dr. Edwards seem to have a good working relationship, however they often disagree on things and he seems quite wary of her. Dawn's persistence and ways of running the community seem to annoy Edwards.


Hanson was her superior officer who was in charge of the hospital first. When Hanson began to become reckless and make bad choice she took it upon herself to have him "dealt with" and take over. She seemed to care about him as she kept a photo of him presenting an award to her in her office.


Dawn and O'Donnell seemed to have a close relationship before the apocalypse started. He stated that they were rookies together and that they had shared a cigar when his wife gave birth to their daughter. Their relationship appeared to have deteriorated over time, with O'Donnell becoming violent and laughing at the female wards being raped. It worsened to the point where they were willing to kill each other, to which Dawn and Beth did kill him fearing for their lives.


"And maybe somebody in charge who ain't her."
—Gorman to Dr. Edwards about Dawn[src]

Dawn is his superior officer, who allows him and other officers to take advantage of the women at the hospital. He resents her, and implies that sooner or later she won't be the one in charge and he will be able to do what he wants.


"Noah's smart, probably my best worker. That story he told about the ventilator, boy's not much of a liar."
—Dawn to Beth[src]

Dawn and Noah are shown to have a stable relationship, with Dawn saying that Noah is one of her best workers in the hospital. Dawn, upon finding Noah in the outbreak, left his father injured, but saved Noah, taking him back to the hospital. It is shown that Dawn feels guilty for punishing Noah after he takes the blame for accidentally killing Gavin Trevitt, knowing that he lied to protect Beth. Any guilt she felt did not stop her from punishing him, though. How she reacts to Noah escaping the hospital is currently unknown.


"We're not going to let you die; we are not going to let you turn."
—Dawn to Joan[src]

It is shown that Dawn cares about Joan's well-being, as after she escapes the hospital and is bitten, Dawn brings her back in to amputate her arm. When she resists, Dawn tells her that she's not going to let her turn and die. In "Coda", Dawn reprimands O'Donnell for "laughing with his buddies while that poor girl [Joan] got raped," implying that she had more sympathy for Joan and cared more for her than she initially let on (even if Joan did not return these feelings).

Glenn Rhee

"And I would shoot that woman dead. Right or wrong."
—Glenn to Rick[src]

While Glenn and Dawn never met, it's very clear that Glenn had a strong hatred towards Dawn for killing Beth. When Glenn along with Rick, Michonne and Tyreese were leaving Noah in his hometown, Glenn was expressing his grief and anger at the things that were happening, and even mentioned that if he had been inside the hospital he would have killed her no matter what.


Episodes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6
Season 7
Season 8
Season 9
Season 10
Season 11
Appears Voice is heard
👁 Appears with no lines Appears in a flashback
Appears as a walker 🖼 Appears in a photograph/video
Appears as a corpse Appears in a hallucination/dream


  • The casting call for this character used the name Vivian Bishop.
    • Dawn was described as "Mid to Late 30s. A formidable woman. She is stern, focused and intensely pragmatic, but has a tendency to crack under pressure and lash out violently. Though she presents a stoic facade, she has a softer side that she feels the need to suppress in order to be an effective leader. She is charismatic with vibrant energy."
    • Christine Woods stated that Dawn was originally described as "a judge who justified sacrificing for the greater good".[1]
  • Dawn is the first female character to be classified as a season's primary antagonist, with the second being Alpha.
    • Christine Woods does not view her as such, however, but more so as "someone who is trying to keep it together and be a hero."
    • Dawn's motivations are very similar to Shane of the comic series, as Dawn was determined to keep Grady Hospital together and organized so that they'll be the first rescued and the foundation of rebuilding society. Shane, despite the camp being dangerously close to the overrun city, was determined to have the group stay because he believed the government and military still existed and would rescue them first because they were already in the city limits.
  • She is the first primary antagonist of a half season whose death did not involve Rick.
  • This character was first introduced in the Comic Con 2014 trailer for Season 5, where Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd confirmed the actress as Christine Woods.[2]
  • It was confirmed on Talking Dead's "Inside the Dead" segment that she suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This makes her the second person known to have OCD in The Walking Dead universe, with Reese Hawthorne and Samora Sinclair being the other two.
    • Presumably as a result of this, Dawn and the other officers in her group wear spotless police uniforms, which is supported based off of her conversation with Noah regarding her laundry.

International Dubbers

Language Dubber Other Characters Voiced
Czech Kateřina Velebová N/A
French Julie Dumas Lucille Smith
German Heide Domanowski N/A
Hungarian N/A N/A
Italian Sabrina Duranti Sarah Rabinowitz
Japanese Chika Makihara N/A
Portuguese Marli Bortoletto N/A
Spanish (Latin America) N/A N/A
Spanish (Spain) Isabel Fernández Avanthay Lydia