- "I told you about the man. The First victim. What they made me..."
- —Daniel hallucinating and talking to Griselda[src]
Daniel Salazar was born and raised in the war-ridden El Salvador. He left his country after the war and emigrated to Los Angeles, California, with his wife Griselda. Daniel once served as a soldier of the Salvadoran junta and carried out torture operations for them, something he is obviously not proud of - as he didn't do it out of ideology but to survive - but would do again if necessary. Having been in the army, Daniel is shown to be adept with firearms as well as combat. He owns and operates a barber shop. He has raised an "American" daughter in the hopes that she would not have to become what he had and that she would remain innocent throughout her life. He also keeps to himself and his family, distrusting strangers. Overall, he maintains a calm exterior, but is constantly vigilant and suspicious—possible traits gained from his time in El Salvador. It is later revealed that he was forced to kill a man as a yound child, an experience that traumatised him and led him to join the Salvadorian junta.
El Salvador/Los Angeles, California
In his home country of El Salvador, he met and married Griselda. In the Salvadoran Civil War of 1980's, he joined the ranks of the Junta, probably coerced behind a gunpoint with options to enlist or be killed. After the war, he emigrated to America, owning and operating a barber shop. Some time later, he had a daughter named Ofelia. He vowed that she would not have to do what he did in order to survive.
When a riot erupts after the people of Los Angeles think the police are randomly killing people, unaware of how the the emerging infection spreads and affects people, Travis Manawa, Liza Ortiz, and their son Chris, enter a shop. Inside, they find Daniel and his family. Daniel orders them to leave, but is persuaded by his wife Griselda to keep them inside due to the riot outside.
Daniel appears with his family. After a short conversation, Chris notes that the walls are burning, and all six realize that they need to leave. Daniel opens the door, letting looters come in but they leave the six alone. They make a run to Travis's truck, where on the way Griselda is pinned by collapsed scaffolding after riot officers unleash a high-pressure hose on it. After getting to the truck, they head to a nearby hospital but find that it is overrun with the infected, with the National Guard shooting the infected patients coming out of the hospital. Travis suggests to go to another hospital, but Daniel declines and asks him to go to his house, as the other hospitals would most likely be overrun also. He plans to use Travis' phone in their house so he can contact his cousin to pick them up tomorrow.
After heading inside Travis' house, they are attacked by an undead Peter Dawson. Daniel grabs the shotgun and kills him. After watching Travis drag Peter's body out, he suggests burning it but Travis declines, and immediately Daniel knows it is because Peter was a good friend of Travis. He watches as Travis' girlfriend Madison Clark is about to kill a zombified Susan Tran, but stops after Travis persuades her not to, and mutters that she is "weak" as a result.
When the National Guard arrives at the neighborhood, Daniel peers out a window and says that "it's already too late".
Dr. Bethany Exner examines Griselda and decides that she needs surgery in a military medical facility outside in order to save her foot. Daniel insists that he will go with Griselda, to which Bethany readily agrees.
Madison tells Daniel about what she saw outside the curfew zone. Daniel tells Madison about how naive he found his father to be and why he mistrusts governments, and then asks Madison to promise to look after Ofelia if for any reason they do not return.
As Ofelia says her farewells to her parents, Daniel tells her that he can't guess how long he will be away. At the last moment, however, Daniel is denied leave and the soldiers take Nicholas instead. Liza is reluctantly convinced to go with the soldiers as well.
Daniel first appears when Madison thinks that her daughter Alicia is at the Trans' house again after finding Mrs. Tran's suicide note. Madison opens a door to find Ofelia and Daniel, who have kidnapped Andrew Adams, a soldier with whom Ofelia previously flirted. Daniel supposedly agrees to Ofelia's decision to use him as a hostage to free Griselda and Madison's son Nick. But when she leaves, Daniel tells Madison that he is going to torture him instead as he believes the army will not exchange and ignores her suggestion for a peaceful method.
Daniel talks with Adams about the war in the 80s and what he did to keep both himself and Griselda alive. He takes out some shaves, which Adams immediately recognizes as a torture attempt and discloses her location in an attempt to avoid being tortured. Daniel does not stop there and flays his arm. He knows that Adams is a good person and tells him that the deeper he goes, the more sensitive the nerve becomes, resulting in more pain. He demands to know what the code "Cobalt" means as from his radio, he notes that the word is said often.
Adams tells him more about his experience with the infected and how he still hears the screams of those in the arena. After Ofelia sees what he does to him, she leaves the house crying, and he tells Madison that she will be unable to understand why he had to torture him. Madison then asks if they got the information they needed, possibly surprising him as he thought of her as "weak".
After Adams relays his story about the civilians in the arena to Travis, Daniel goes to the arena to validate his story. As he approaches the doors, the herd of infected inside senses his presence and begins banging on the doors.
Daniel and Ofelia have an argument about the situation with Andrew. She says that he lied to her, but Daniel challenges this by stating that he was protecting her. Daniel's past activities in El Salvador are brought up, and he claims that he did what was necessary to survive and that he kept Ofelia in the dark to protect her.
Daniel wants to kill Andrew, but Travis talks him out of it and convinces him to take Andrew with them instead, pointing out that he will be helpful in finding Griselda's exact location.
As the three families leave in three different vehicles, Daniel has to briefly step out in order to open the gates, which have been left unguarded as the soldiers took their leave.
Andrew convinces Travis to release him, arguing that he can tell him where to find Ofelia and Nicholas and that Daniel will kill him if given the chance.
Daniel later walks casually towards the command post and seeks the sentinels' attention. They order him to stop and threaten to shoot, but he advises them to spare their ammunition, a puzzling statement that is shortly clarified when the infected from the arena are seen following him. Daniel has released some two thousand undead, forcing the soldiers into defense and creating a distraction for his party.
At the medical facility, Ofelia, Daniel, Madison, and Travis search for Nick. They come across his holding cell, but he isn't there. They continue to search for Nick, until they discover him trapped behind some locked doors, trying to get away from incoming infected. Liza reunites with the group, trying and succeeding to unlock the doors with her key card.
As the group escapes from the mess hall, Daniel and Ofelia stop Liza to find out where Griselda is. Liza has trouble answering, and Daniel realizes that Griselda is dead. Liza says that everything that could be done was and that she is sorry. Continuing to flee, Daniel and Ofelia soon pass through a pile of human cinders on the outside that they can't help but see as the resting place of Ofelia. Daniel does his best to comfort Ofelia as she starts crying.
Shortly thereafter, the group returns to the parking space where they left the three cars. Alicia and Christopher are there, but their car was taken away by a few soldiers in the meantime. Andrew reappears and threatens Daniel with a gun. Ofelia tries to talk Andrew out of shooting him, but he instead shoots her in the arm.
Travis beats Andrew viciously in return, while Liza tends to Ofelia's gunshot wound, successfully stabilizing her.
The group enters the two remaining vehicles and heads east, Daniel in the back of the truck with Liza and Ofelia. At Strand's house, Daniel is instructed by Liza to change Ofelia's bandages regularly and told that the wound is clotting. Daniel hears the gunshot that killed Liza as he sits with a sleeping Ofelia.
Daniel first appears boarding the Abigail as Los Angelas is being firebombed by military jet planes with him noting the massive destruction taking place. He is seen helping Travis and Madison on board alongside Chris with Liza's corpse. When a life raft of survivors is spotted at sea, he takes his double barreled shotgun and keeps it at the ready as a safety precaution, he remains quiet on whether to bring the survivors onto the boat. He later appears fishing by himself. He see's Chris and welcomes him, and encourages him to help him fish. Daniel questions Chris on how he learned how to fish with him explaining he used to do it when he was younger. Daniel expresses his condolences to Chris about Liza's sudden death with Chris offering his sympathies to his wife that also recently died. Daniel catches a eel and explains that they will have it for dinner Travis later walks over to Daniel and asks what him and Chris talked about. Daniel explains it was about Liza and Griselda to which Daniel expresses sympathy to Travis stating what he did for Liza was merciful and that one day Chris will understand why he shot her.
He is later present at dinner when he and everyone else hear Chris jump overboard, for a swim. He later witness the aftermath of the attack on a sailing boat, and stands on guard with the shotgun in hand again.
Daniel first appears when the group decides to dock the boat at an island to lose being spotted by a nearby hostile boat. Daniel elected to remain on the boat with his daughter once the boat docked, still suspicious of Strands intentions.
During a conversation with his daughter later that night, he said he remained on the boat because he was not "invited" into the house by the Geary family, which seemed strange to Ofelia. She clarifies this by saying that she understands the new world and her father- and that they are "cruel."
The following day, still suspicious of Strand, he begins searching the captains room of the boat, eventually finding a sealed compartment. He successfully picks the lock and discovers a hidden compartment. In the compartment he finds a loaded MP5 sub-machine gun and maps of the Mexican coast.
Daniel first appears this episode alongside Travis and Madison when they discuss a possible problem with the water filtration system on the boat. Daniel watches Strand's increasing stress to get the filtration system up and running. Daniel is later seen with Ofelia, noticing that her wound is infected and expresses concern for her. She notes that they ran out of antibiotics and Daniel sternly tells her not to tell Madison insisting that they have to care for one another. Daniel is later present when they find aircraft luggage on a nearby island. After Chris, Alicia and Nick express that they want to grab supplies on the island but Madison and Travis say its too dangerous, Daniel offers he will go with them and keep watch. As they reach the island Daniel with his M9 beretta in hand tells everyone to remain in eye length with one an another. Daniel rummages through luggage in search of antibiotics for Ofelia. Nick informs Daniel that Ofelia needs Amoxicillin, Oxycodone, or something similar. Daniel tells Nick he will leave the medicine up to him. Daniel quickly realizes that Chris is missing and goes to search for him inland. As Daniel moves inland, he spots a survivor from the plane, Alex, she quickly runs to him informing him to run quickly. Daniel spots a small herd of zombies approaching him over the sand dune and pulls out his M9 and shoots a few of the zombies. Alicia, Chris and Alex help Daniel fight off the herd, but are quickly getting cornered. Nick however joins them camouflaged in blood keeping him disguised from the walkers. Daniel makes it to the life raft and they make it back to the Abigail. Daniel later witness the drama unfolding on the Abigail regarding Alex and Jake and that they cannot stay aboard.
After 3 unknown survivors, 2 men and a woman, board the ship, Daniel, Travis and Madison rush upstairs to interrogate the strangers. The strangers claim that Vida is having pregnancy complications. Alicia goes downstairs and recognises one of the men's voices as Jack from the radio she was talking to. "Jack?" she asks. Daniel asks her what did she do but before she can answer Reed takes the advantage by throwing a punch to Travis. Vida is also able to overpower Madison. They then tie them all together. Alicia is forced by Reed to bind Daniel. As Alicia is binding Daniel, he asks her how did they know their names to which she just replies "I don't know". Later, Vida brings back a tied Madison to the group. She tells that she heard gunshots and Daniel says that they shot down his boat. Daniel tells Madison to keep talking to Vida as a distraction as he attempts to loose the binds. Madison asks Vida if the baby is moving. She baits her by telling her if a dead baby would turn inside her belly. Angered, Vida threatens to shoot Madison. Reed and Travis return from the engine room and as Vida punches Madison. As Reed stops her from doing any more damage, Travis slips a crowbar behind a seat cushion. After Luis Flores shoots both Ben and Breannah with an assault rifle, this gives time for Daniel to slip his binds and grab his gun back from Reed's hand as Ofelia slams him on the door before Madison stabs him with the crowbar. Upon seeing Luis, he aims him and orders to drop his gun though Nick tells him that he's a friend of Strand. When Luis mentions that they cannot cross the boarder without Strand, Daniel tells him they don't need him as Luis tells him back without Strand they're not going to Mexico.
Daniel treats the wound that Reed sustained from the crowbar. Reed tells Daniel that his brother, Connor, has a dozen men and five boats and will come looking for him. Daniel leaves Reed tied up in a chair. Daniel agrees to let Chris stand outside Reed’s door. Daniel tells Madison that they can use Reed’s relationship to Connor as leverage over Connor.
Daniel listens into Luis and Strand's plan on how to get across the border and advises Madison to let Nick and Chris help fight Connor’s group, urging her to stop treating them like children. Madison ignores his advice.
When Reed turns after death. Daniel stabs Reed and pins him to a wall, leaving him alive. Daniel places a hood over Reed’s head, devising a plan to use the undead Reed. “Take the gun, Daniel,” says a voice, but the room is empty. He snaps out of his daze when Ofelia arrives, and together they escort Reed out of the room to deliver to the pirates to save Alicia and Travis.
With his wife gone and a lack of understanding and acceptance from Ofelia, Daniel begins to mentally break down during the course of the episode. When the Abigail is attacked by remnants of the Mexican Navy, he stabs several of the attackers in the head to prevent reanimation, but when he comes to Luis, he is startled when the dying man gives him a pendant with symbols on it that Daniel seems to recognise. He angrily tries to put the man down but is stopped by Ofelia and Nick. He grabs the pendant and throws it overboard.
Later on, Daniel is suspicious when the servants working for Celia confiscate the group's weapons. He remains on his guard the entire time, continually observing goings on and the activities of the residents. He searches the premises of Celia's home and discovers she keeps walkers in her basement as she believes they are still alive but changed. Daniel finds Celia praying near a monument with the same symbol on it as Luis's pendant. He is left considerably shaken as Celia tries to get him to contemplate making peace with the dead.
In a flashback, a young Daniel Salazar stands beside a pond full of dead bodies in the Salvadoran jungle. “Take the gun, Daniel,” a man tells him. He wakes up to the sound of a gunshot. Daniel runs outside with Ofelia. Ofelia starts to peel the skin off of her face. Daniel wakes up: It was a nightmare. He hears people running in the hall. Daniel finds Ofelia and hugs her fiercely.
The next day, Daniel secretly sharpens a razor blade and pockets it, and he urges Strand not to bury Thomas in such an unholy place. Strand sees that he is clearly unravelling very quickly. Later, he has a mental breakdown and grabs Ofelia, trying to discretely lead her away, believing that Griselda is waiting for them and that they are in danger. When Ofelia resists and tries to calm him down, he becomes agitated and more insistent. Several of the workers immediately intervene and Daniel panics, drawing his barber's blade and slashing one of them across the face. In the frenzy, he is overwhelmed by their numbers, punched several times in the face and subdued.
Later on, Celia brings food to Daniel, who is tied up in a storage room, and urges him to seek forgiveness from his Dead. He hears Griselda’s voice. After Celia leaves, Griselda’s ghost appears before him. He talks to Griselda and reflects on all of the people he’s killed. “What about the one that haunts you now?” Griselda asks. In a flashback, young Daniel looks at the pool of dead bodies and notices one of the men is still alive. A man hands him a gun and tells him to shoot. Daniel complies. “The first victim was you,” Griselda tells Daniel.
Jorge unties Daniel to give him some food. Daniel attacks and kills him and escapes. “I’m waiting for you,” Griselda tells Daniel. Inside the infected-filled wine cellar, Daniel pours gasoline lights it on fire. Instead of seeing the infected, he hallucinates all of the people he has killed when Griselda emerges from the crowd and smiles. The flames barely start to touch Daniel's feet, leaving it unclear if he survives or not.
This list shows the victims Daniel has killed:
- Numerous counts of people (Pre-Apocalypse)
- Peter Dawson (Zombified)
- Willimas (Indirectly Caused)
- Shih (Indirectly Caused)
- Melvin Allen (Indirectly Caused)
- Hector Ramirez (Assumed; Indirectly Caused)
- Elizabeth Ortiz (Indirectly Caused)
- Miguel (Before Reanimation)
- Vazquez (Before Reanimation)
- Jorge (Caused)
- Luis Flores (Zombified)
- Celia Flores (Either Before or After Reanimation)
- Many unnamed soldiers and Los Angeles citizens (Indirectly Caused)
- Numerous counts of zombies.
Daniel is Griselda's husband, and the couple trust and love each other greatly. Griselda tells Ofelia that even though his decisions may seem wrong, he has always guided them the right way, such as surviving the grim Salvadoran civil war in the 80's by joining the ranks of junta. Daniel shows concern when Griselda is taken away by the National Guard, as he remarks that people who go on trucks "don't come back". Daniel was greatly saddened with the passing of his wife but maintains composure as they attempt to escape the facility.
Daniel sees Ofelia, his only daughter, as the "purest" being he has ever seen. He mentions this to Andrew Adams when he begins to torture him to get information on "Cobalt". He does argue with her once in a while over their decisions, as when she suggests to go with Travis and his group, he declines and says they'll be staying in here until his cousin comes to pick them up. Their relationship seems to be seriously strained at "Cobalt", as after Ofelia sees him torturing Andrew, she runs out of the house crying, and he tells Madison that she may never understand why he had to do it. When the group boards the Abigail, it seems that Ofelia and Daniels relationship is at relatively good terms again. Daniel remains very protective of Ofelia and constantly worries about her gun shot injury. Ofelia later states to Daniel that she understands why her father was cruel and that the current world they live in now is cruel showing that she is slowly starting to understand her father survivalist attitude.
They seem to have a poor relationship. However, Daniel sees him as a good person since he is aware he has a relationship with his daughter. In addition, he discloses information about the civil war in the 80s and what he had to do to survive to him. After Adams shoots Ofelia, however, it can be assumed that Daniel detests him and was not opposed to Travis's assault of him.
Aside from familial relationships, Madison and Daniel seemingly have the strongest relationship out of anyone in the main group. Even though they first encounter each other in a scene Madison's living room that sees Daniel killing Peter Dawson, Madison is rather open to his ways quickly. This is contrasted by how eager Travis is to not agree with Daniel's methods. After Madison escapes the Safe Zone for a brief venture out into the Dead Zone, she openly confides in Daniel what she saw. Their relationship is further strengthened when Madison allows Daniel to torture Andrew Adams in order to get information on Nick and Griselda's whereabouts. By the end of the first season, it appears as if Madison and Daniel have developed a sense of trust between each other. Later when the two board the Abigail, there trust remains at an all time high with the two sharing an immense amount of distrust in Victor Strand.
- "Liza, where is my wife?"
- —Daniel to Liza about Griselda's whereabouts.[src]
Daniel and Liza always got along when seen together. This is probably because Liza was always a great help to his family in terms of medical care. When Daniel's wife was taken away, Daniel was extremely worried, but presumably rested a little easier knowing that Liza was with her at the medical facility. At the facility, Daniel asked Liza where his wife was and got some bad news, but Liza tried to comfort him and Ofelia by assuring him that she was put in good hands and got the best medical care possible. She also stated how sorry she was for his loss. After Ofelia was shot by Andrew, Liza did everything she could to medically help his daughter and assured him that she would get better. He thanked her for her help. Daniel was absent when Liza died, but heard the gunshot that ended her life. Later on the Abigail, Daniel remains silent, as a sign of respect at Liza's funeral.
Daniel and Victor have a very untrustworthy and tense relationship. At first Daniel and Victor have a more or less good relationship with Daniel being grateful for Victor saving the group and bringing them to the yacht Abigai. However as Daniel remains on the yacht, he remains very suspicious of Strand's isolation and ultimately his destination. Daniel confronts Strand about this with him stating on how Daniel should just be thankful that he got him and everyone else out of LA. Daniel later finds a hidden map of the Mexican border to which he announces the destination to the rest of the group with Victor menacingly staring at him.
- The casting call for this character used the name Salvador Pena.
- As a first-generation Hispanic immigrant who was born and educated ouside of U.S., he was surprisingly fluent in both English and his mother tongue Spanish.
- With a comparatively large estimated population of the military base, by unleashing a horde of 2,000 into it, Daniel becomes one of the characters that killed most people onscreen either intentionally or indirectly, together with Carol Peletier and Philip Blake.
- His name may be a homage to Miguel Salazar, a soldier who suffered from an emotional and mental breakdown in George Romero's Day of the Dead (1985).
- In "Ouroboros," he is shown to be a proficient shooter, probably due to his military experience back in El Salvador.
- Daniel's younger self in the flashbacks in "Sicut Cervus" and "Shiva" is credited as Brown Eyed Boy.
- As of Shiva, Daniel has the most direct/indirect kills with at least 11 named characters, though this number does not take into account the indirect kills from the release of the walker hoard in the Stadium.
- His status is currently unknown. Executive producer, Dave Erickson has stated, that Daniel won't appear again in season 2, but may appear in season 3. His status is therefore unknown, but we can presume, that he survived the Abigail estate fire.