Dale had been a salesman for 40 years. Upon retiring, he and his wife Erma bought an RV and hit the road. The dead started walking about two years into their travels and the couple heard about it too late - Dale's wife didn't make it and he witnessed her fall into a diseased death. Alone, Dale headed to Atlanta to stay with some cousins since the city had been listed as a safe place. It wasn't. On his way he had picked up Amy and Andrea and the three established a camp a little outside city limits.
Written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Tony Moore.
Major Story Arcs
Dale welcomes many others into his camp, including Shane, Lori, and Carl. Dale has no problem letting Shane run things while he sits atop his RV acting as a lookout. Rick’s arrival changes the feeling in the camp and Dale tries to alert Rick to Shane’s feelings for Lori (Rick’s wife). Rick assures him that the notion is silly but Dale stays wary of Shane.
Later, Dale cedes his watch to Allen. A zombie enters the camp and nearly bites one of the women. Dale emerges and beheads the zombie, to which the camp learns that separating the head is not enough.
When not keeping watch, Dale can normally be found looking after the various kids in the camp. Amy and Andrea stay with him in the RV to the disdain of a few camp members. Dale tries to explain that the girls are merely company. He’s too old to wish for much else from them. He sees himself as more of a father figure. This role turns tragic when a horde of zombies attacks the camp during a cookout. Amy had been off to the bathroom when she gets bitten. Dale helps to protect the camp and later approaches Andrea who hovers over Amy’s dead body. She explains to Dale that she can’t let Amy come back like a zombie and shoots her in the head. Dale acts as a source of comfort for Andrea in the aftermath.
Shane dies after an altercation with Rick. Dale admits that people stayed – even though it seemed dangerous – simply because Shane said it was the best course. With him out of the picture, Dale packs up the RV and everyone piles in to find a new home. While on the road, Lori announces to the group that she is pregnant. Dale takes Rick to the side and questions him about the child’s father. Rick loses his cool for a bit and admits that the baby could be Shane’s. Dale sees the can of worms that he’s opened and calms Rick down.
Later, Dale makes the discovery that cold temperatures slow zombies down. He stumbles upon one on its back and leans down to inspect it since he doesn’t see it moving. The thing tries to get him but is frozen. Dale lurches back and gets embarrassed when the group sees his gaffe. Andrea, however, is deeply concerned about Dale and embraces him once she learns that he is okay.
Later, Dale and Rick find a gated community called Wiltshire Estates. Dale parks the RV outside the gates and everyone moves in to a house with the plan on clearing out any houses the next day and setting up a permanent residence. Dale and Andrea share a room and succumb to temptation. They don’t even notice a group member divvying extra blankets walking in on them.
The group splits up and starts inspecting houses the next morning. Donna gets attacked and eaten before Rick sees a sign that says that the community is filled with the dead. Dale gets people aboard and then drives in to pick up Rick and some stragglers. They have to jump on the roof from a house and Dale soon drives the group away from the community. Rick expresses his concern over Allen in losing his wife. Dale, who knows all about losing a wife to zombies, counsels Rick to let Allen grieve.
When the group temporarily settles on Hershel’s Farm, Dale keeps a pretty low profile. He seems mostly to be a shoulder to lean on for Andrea as she continues to mourn her sister’s death, as well as a support as she tries to get Allen to wake from his pitiful state and take notice of his twin boys, Ben and Billy. The stay on the farm is short-lived and Dale has to pack everyone back into his cramped camper. (He hates that an awful smell seems to have seeped into the walls.) The group scavenges for food and often does without. At one stop, however, Dale and Andrea go off alone to scout for food, shelter, or gas. They find an ideal place to live: a prison. They hurry back to the RV and honk the horn to get everyone assembled.
At the prison, the group files out of the RV and Rick hands out assignments. Dale is to walk between the fences with Lori and Carol to make sure no zombies are wandering around. They don’t find anything; Dale simply listens to the ladies chatter about life. The group camps within the prison walls that night and Rick and Tyreese search out the prison in the morning. They return and report that they’ve found some inmates. Once the group meets the men (and gotten very familiar with the food), Dale is asked to accompany Rick for a tour of the facilities, led by inmate Dexter. The men scout the place and find cells to claim.
Once settled, Dale begins work on the outer fence to afford a bit more protection for the prison. He also looks after the kids. Not all is peaceful, however, and tragedy strikes. Two of Hershel’s daughters are killed – beheaded – and Dale joins the mob that blames Dexter. They lock Dexter up to await Rick’s judgment. While waiting, Dale and Andrea have a chat in which he learns Andrea’s true intentions. She loves him and plans on staying with him until they die.
One day, Dale leads some of the group to the fence to try to pick off the horde of zombies gathering. It’s during this purging that the true murderer is discovered; Andrea, bleeding from her face and ear, bursts through one of the doors to the outside with one of the inmates hot on her heels. Rick catches the man and beats him to a pulp. Dale takes Andrea inside and cleans the wound on her face and informs her that her ear lobe is gone. Rick then shows up and Dale cleans his hand. He informs Rick that it looks like most of the fingers are broken. A bit later, Dale expresses his concern to Andrea about the group getting too volatile for him and the fear that someone might try to take the prison from them. Andrea informs him that once he’s worked out all the kinks, she’ll go where he goes.
Despite a mutinous attempt by Dexter to take back the prison, Dale and Andrea agree to stay in the prison. To pull his weight, Dale helps investigate Block A with Rick, Allen, and other men from the group. The group splits after Dale finds a library. Dale and Tyreese continue through the block despite hearing gunshots. To their surprise, the men find a generator. They hear yelling and realize that they can’t linger too long to figure how to turn the thing on. They leave to find that Allen has been bitten. Dale helps carry the man out. The men hurry out and drop Allen in the prison yard. Rick then amputates the infected foot. Dale rushes to tell Andrea and Carol.
Becoming a Leader
After Allen dies and the group learns that Rick shot Dexter to stop his insurrection, Dale is elected as a co-leader, alongside Rick, Hershel, and Tyreese. Part of their first task is investigating Block A again to find where Dexter go his weapons and to see if part of the group could move into it. It’s clear and the men find plenty of weapons and body armor. Despite these provisions, Dale states that he’ll keep the RV ready in case they need to get away quickly.
As a leader, things get interesting for Dale. He not only helps protect the fence by luring zombies to stronger parts, but he also becomes the adopted father (with Andrea as the adopted mother) to Ben and Billy, Allen’s twin boys. When Rick, Glenn, and Michonne go missing, Dale takes it upon himself to watch out for them from a guard tower. Tyreese heads out on his own but comes back in a bad way – vehicle-less and running for his life. Dale descends his tower and drives the RV out to get Tyreese. The RV blocks the entrance and they are unable to get the gates closed and zombies swarm the prison. The group tries to drive the zombies out but have no luck. Tyreese gets people back inside the prison while Dale and Andrea shack up in the RV. Rick eventually returns with some help and Dale and Andrea emerge to help clear out the zombies.
Once Rick informs the group about the town of Woodbury and its likelihood of attack, Dale suggests raiding the National Guard station Woodbury uses to stock its citizens. A group leaves and Lori goes into labor that night. Billy Greene is enlisted to make sure the generator is fully fueled so that Alice can help Lori deliver the baby. Dale tags along with Billy and the two find that all the gas can are empty. They put what they can into the generator and then head out to the prison parking lot to syphon more gas. They battle a few zombies before Dale gets tackled by one. Dale is freed after a brief struggle and Billy moves on to get some gas. A zombie crawls from under a car and bites Dale’s ankle. While Billy runs away Dale passes out. He wakes up in a few seconds to see the zombie eating his leg. He manages to get away and crawls back towards the prison entrance. He is found by the scavenging party and taken inside to the infirmary (where Lori has just had her baby). Dale passes out as Rick uses a saw to amputate Dale’s leg below the knee. Alice and Andrea monitor him while he sleeps, but he seems to be okay.
Dale finds life as an amputee to be difficult. His dreams of two legs get his hopes up only to be dashed upon waking to find only one working leg. He is bitter until Andrea informs him that she found him some crutches. His spirits are immediately lifted. He and Rick discuss looking on the bright side of their situation until Dale notices the attention Andrea is giving to Tyreese. This type of attention seems to happen a lot and Dale lets it fester within him. He wakes up one day to find a peg attached to his leg. Andrea and Tyreese surprise him by admitting that they’ve had to sneak around a lot in order to get the peg made. Dale is excited about the new leg. He tells Andrea that she can pursue a relationship with Tyreese. She scoffs at the idea; she and Tyreese are just friends and she loves Dale. The two head outside to practice on the new leg. Just then, the Governor from Woodbury begins his attack on the prison.
Woodbury opens fire on the prison grounds but few bullets are able to get through the dense collection of zombies at the gates. Dale and everyone around hits the ground to take cover except Andrea, who runs to the tower to get her sniper gear. Dale hears Andrea shooting but then gets concerned when she stops. Andrea’s shooting resumes a few minutes later and she drives off the attack. Dale finds her descending the guard tower and finds that she’s been grazed on the head. They get to the infirmary and Andrea gets patched up. They decide together that they need to leave. Dale tries to talk everyone into leaving with them but only manages to get Glenn and Maggie and Sophia to go (plus the twins). They file in to the RV and leave.
Life Out of Prison
Dale takes his group back to Hershel’s farm. They establish a comfortable life while fighting off a few zombies each day. One day Maggie and Glenn return from a run with Rick, Carl, and Michonne in tow. They relate that the prison was overrun and that they are the only survivors. They hunker down at the farm and Rick makes Dale the leader. Things get turned upside down when Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene stop by the farm. Abraham informs the group about herds, masses of zombies that travel together. Eugene also explains about his science expertise and how he can find a way to stop the zombie plague. The trio is on its way to Washington and invite Dale’s group along. Dale agrees that leaving would be best, especially if the herd theory is correct. The group packs up and heads out.
On the road, Dale and his family rides in bed of Abraham’s military truck. With winter coming on, Dale begins looking for an RV or some smaller vehicles to get better gas mileage. At a stop, Dale sets up camp while Rick leaves with Abraham and Carl to check up on friends in another town. In their absence, Dale gets the notion to leave the group with Andrea and the twins. He finds a quaint little farm and moves his family into it with the intent of settling down. His hope is short-lived, however, when Rick returns with a huge herd of zombies on his tail. Dale agrees to leave, but begrudgingly so, wondering how Rick will endanger their lives further.
Back out on the road, tragedy strikes. Ben brutally kills Billy without batting an eye. (He thinks Billy will be okay since he didn’t hurt his brains.) Ben gets locked in a van and Dale and Andrea have to do their best to prevent Abraham from killing Ben, who is now seen as a liability for not understanding the seriousness of murder. Before Dale and Andrea can figure out what to do, someone sneaks in and kills Ben. Dale goes into a fit of rage when nobody admits to pulling the trigger. They bury both boys and move on.
Dale keeps himself aloof from the group and refuses to eat. When a few zombies attack the camp Dale is caught with his guard down. A zombie takes a bite, but Dale claims that only his shirt was ripped in the attack. Once everyone is asleep, Dale takes off into the night. He doesn’t get far before some men following the group knock him unconscious. Dale later awakes to be introduced to some people eating his other leg. Dale finds some very twisted humor in the situation. He explains that he has going into the woods to die since he had been bitten earlier. The cannibals were actually eating tainted meat. One kicks Dale until he passes out.
Dale’s body is dropped off at a church where the cannibals have tracked Rick’s group. Dale is dragged inside and cared for. When he wakes up he apologizes to Andrea about not telling her or the group about getting bit. He never wanted her to have to see what the zombie process was like. She tells him that she loves him and will be with him until the bitter end. Rick is bent on revenge and Dale gives him a general lay-out of where he was being held. Once the group returns from murdering the cannibals, Dale admits to Rick that he is grateful for Rick’s leadership. There were times that he was bitter towards Rick but he’s over that now. Rick leaves and Andrea stays by Dale’s side until he passes in the night. Andrea shoots him and they burn his body the next day.
The Walking Dead
Dale was played by Jeffrey DeMunn in AMC´s "The Walking Dead." His character traits were similar in that he acted as a father figure to Glenn and Andrea and tried to be a voice of maturity and reason in a deteriorating world. He butted heads with Shane on many topics and even threatened to kill him. One night Dale leaves in a huff after the group decides to hang a young man. A walker attacks and rips Dale's chest open. With no alternatives, Darryl kills Dale.