Skip to main content

The Walking Dead: Is Carl Responsible for Dale's Death?


Earlier in Season 2 of the Walking Dead, Carl is shot by a man named Otis. This was accident, however. Otis was trying to shoot a deer and he did not realize there was a child behind the deer. Carl ended up surviving the gun shot wound thanks to the help of Hershel from the farm nearby. Since Carl has fully recovered, he has become increasingly curious about the world around him. Understand, Carl is a young child and his childhood will be spent in a world where the dead walk the earth. This is not a place for a child to grow up in!

Walking Dead: Judge, Jury, Executioner (Season 2, episode 12)

In this episode, Carl finds a pistol in Daryl's bag by the motorcycle. He seems to be somewhat curious on whether or not he should take the pistol. Carl ultimately decides to take the gun and venture off into the woods.

As Carl is in the forest, he spots a walker across a stream of water. He first appears afraid, but then realizes that the walker's feet are trapped in the mud. Since the walker appears helpless, Carl then decides to throw a few rocks at it. I'm not entirely sure why Carl is throwing rocks at it. Perhaps he is just taunting the walker because it appears so helpless and can not harm him at that moment.

After throwing a few rocks at the seemingly helpless walker, Carl moves closer towards it. He takes the pistol out and aims it at the walker. The walker becomes very aggressive and tries to attack Carl. The walker finally manages to get one foot out of the mud and attacks Carl. This causes Carl to lose hold of the gun. Fearing for his life, Carl runs away.

Dale Stumbling upon a cow that is ripped open


Dale's Death by Walker, is Carl responsible?

Later on in the episode, Dale is walking outside of the farm at nighttime. This is around the time that Rick is about to execute Randall. But Rick fails to pull the trigger because his son Carl walks in on the execution. Anyway, Dale has a hunting rifle with him and hears a strange noise nearby. Dale investigates the noise and sees a cow with it's guts ripped out. As soon as he sees this, he turns around and a walker jumps on top of him. The walker is the same walker that Carl failed to kill whilst in the forest earlier! If Carl would have killed the zombie, this walker would have never got the jump on Dale!

Dale struggles with the walker, but is not strong enough to push him off. The walker fails to bite him, but ends up ripping Dale's guts out by using it's claws? In my opinion, it seems like the walker was too strong just to rip Dale's stomach apart in a few seconds. Also, you would think that Dale would have had the strength to push the walker away, even though he is older.


Is Carl responsible for the death of Dale in the Walking Dead?

Technically speaking, if Carl managed to kill the walker in the woods earlier, Dale would have not been attacked and killed. Carl could have shot the zombie instead of throwing rocks at it. While Carl did have the gun aimed at the zombie at one point earlier, he did not pull the trigger soon enough. Besides, if Carl was not messing around with the rocks, he could have shot the zombie when he first spotted it stuck in the mud from a safe distance.

Also, what if Carl did not survive the gunshot wound earlier in the Walking Dead Season 2? If Carl had died, he would have not been alive to venture off and alert the walker in the forest later on. In a way, Carl is responsible for Dale's death BECAUSE CARL LIVED! That is a cynical way to think about it, though.

For those of you who are reading this and have watched the show, do you think Carl is responsible for Carl's death? (Mainly, because he wondered off into the woods and failed to shoot the walker in the mud)

Of course, bear in mind, Carl is just a child. Children are often curious and do things that they do not intend. Even if Carl is "logically responsible" for Dale's death, it does not matter as Carl was simply afraid of the Walker and probably does not know how to handle a weapon like a grown adult would.

Is Carl responsible for Dale's death?

MattKerr from Kuala Lumpur on March 25, 2012:

Kids will be kids and cause mayhem and i doubt it will ever be possible to keep an eye on them fully. Saying that it's a bit more important when 99% of the world's population has turned into flesh eating zombies.

The kid does have an attitude problem and 100% should have told them there was a zombie running loose so i would put 80% of the blame on him but then what kind of idiot walks off into the woods on their own late at night flashing a touch around to advertise his whereabouts?

Scroll to Continue

Tams92 on March 21, 2012:

Ironic that Shane outlives Dale, isn't it :p

Jen Nicole from Huntington, West Virginia on March 15, 2012:

I have to say, it is both Carl's fault and his parents. You should keep an eye on your kid, especially when there is a zombie apocalypse. That is just common since to me. Also, Carl is just a kid wanting to explore, but he is stupid in risking his life doing it.

David 470 (author) from Pennsylvania, United States on March 14, 2012:


Dale meets cannibals in the comic? That's pretty crazy, especially since his meat was tainted because that would make them infected.

A lot of people tell me (who read comics) that Dale is in the story a lot longer, but on the show it was kind of an unexpected surprise -- and was quick.

SeedyKiwi on March 13, 2012:

Im loving the Walking Dead at the moment it's awesome.

I think we are supposed to see it as being Carls fault because of his actions in the episode. Carl practically begged his parents to let Shane teach him to shoot, so he had the know how to pull the trigger.

I don't think you can blame him for it because he lived, because well If Otis had seen Rick and Shane standing in plain sight behind the deer maybe he doesn't take the shot. If Sophia followed Ricks instructions and went back to the road, there is no hunt for her, and they never meet Herschel and co.

Hindsight is a cruel master, and this might just be the precursor to Carl becoming the "I'll never make that mistake again" guy.

Phillip Drayer Duncan from The Ozarks on March 13, 2012:

I have to say that my only disappointment with Dale's death is that I was looking forward to seeing his death scene from the comic come to life in cinema. In the comic he is bit by a zombie, and sneaks away from the group in the middle of the night so that he won't be around when he turns. He gets captured by these people that turn out to be cannibals and politely inform him its nothing personal as they munch down on his leg. Dale in turns laughs in their faces for eating his tainted meat. The group comes and rescues him after a short intense dialogue and mutilation of the kidnappers. Then Dale explains why he left and has to be put down as he begins to turn in to a zombie. When I read that part in the comic I had really hoped the show would follow that intense path for Dale's demise, but unfortunately as they have tended to do since the show started they watered it down.

shuck72 from Seattle on March 13, 2012:

Good article, you make an interesting point that if Carl had died from the deer incident Dale would not have died. I thought Carl may have been a bit to blame for Dale's death as he almost seemed to taunt the zombie stuck in the mud to the point the zombie was able to free itself. He should have told one of the adults about the incident after running away. But in the end as you say he is a kid. It think this incident is in the show to somehow changes Carl's personality moving forward. Guilt and remorse. Whether he is to blame for Dale's death or not, in his mind he feels guilty.

Related Articles