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Nothing is known about Dan's life before or as the outbreak began.
Although his personalty is not well known, Dan appeared to be a brutal, sadistic and violent person and was shown to be a loyal member of the Claimers. According to his actor, Keith Brooks when pointed in a particular direction, he would viciously destroy anything in his way like an animal. It is more than likely he was a murderer as seen when he helped beat Len to death and surely would have killed Carl had his group not been stopped by Rick, Daryl and Michonne.
It appeared that Dan was a pedophile, as he showed glee when he attempted to rape Carl during the run in between his group and Rick's. He was likely a coward as well, as before meeting his well-deserved demise, he attempted to surrender to Rick who brutally slaughtered him in revenge for his actions towards his son.
Dan is first seen with his group gathering around an exhausted Daryl Dixon, who is sitting down in the middle of a road after, unbeknown to the Claimers, chasing after a car that kidnapped Beth Greene, with whom Daryl was surviving. After Daryl punches Joe, the leader of the group, and points his ready-to-fire crossbow at him, Dan and the other group members point their guns at Daryl. After Joe talks Daryl into lowering his crossbow, Dan and the other group members lower their guns too.
Dan is first seen sleeping on the ground in the forest, as a walker approaches their campsite. He wakes up and watches his fellow survivor Harley kill it. He, along with the rest of the group, walks along the tracks, as a walker roams up to he puts his gun in his back. As Tony pushes the walker to him, Billy then stabs it in the head with a metal pipe. As they walk along the tracks, Joe tells them to take shelter in the car shed. He aims his gun and clears out the shed. As the group are checking the place out, he claims the mattress that is on the ground. The next morning, he watches as Len confronts Daryl, he is sitting on his claimed mattress sharpening his knife and watched as Len is deemed a liar. Dan, along with Harley, Billy, and Tony are ordered by Joe to beat up and kill Len. Dan starts kicking and punching Len as he is on the ground. They later shoot an arrow into Len's head, killing him. He leaves the shed and walks along the tracks. He, along with the group, finds the Terminus sign.
When Joe's group makes contact with Rick Grimes's group on the side of the road, Dan finds Rick's son Carl sleeping in a nearby truck and pulls him out with the intent of raping him. He is shocked when he witnesses Rick biting Joe's neck, ripping out his jugular, killing him. He also witnesses all the other members of his group killed by Michonne and Daryl. He threatens Carl's life if they try to approach him, but Rick declares a vengeful claim that "he's mine". Dan tries to back away as Rick stabs him with Joe's knife. Rick forces the knife through Dan's abdomen, disemboweling him, until he reaches his neck, where he proceeds to stab Dan repeatedly with the knife, brutally killing him, leaving Michonne, Daryl, and Carl to watch in shock.
As Dan is attempting to rape Carl Grimes, his fellow survivors are all killed by Daryl Dixon and Michonne. Seeing his group killed and seeing Rick approaching him, he pleads for his life. Rick, furious at Dan's actions, stabs him repeatedly, disemboweling him.
This list shows the victims Dan has killed:
- The actor who portrays Dan, Keith Brooks, described his character in an interview as one who "is like an attack dog. He's vicious. When pointed in a direction, he destroys anything in his path. Some of that is his malicious nature, some of it his sick deviance. But he exists in a world where people don't have to be human anymore. Where people can give in to their worst inclinations."
- In the Talking Dead "In Memoriam" for the season finale, Dan was listed as Deserves-it Dan.