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- "Saved your life..."
- —Denise's last words to Heath.[src]
Denise Cloyd is a character first encountered in Issue 71 of Image Comics' The Walking Dead. She is a resident living in the Alexandria Safe-Zone, working as one of the three doctors there, alongside Peter Anderson and another unnamed doctor. She is the girlfriend of Heath, whom she saved after he had lost a leg, giving up her chance of survival after being bitten prior to the operation.
Almost nothing is known about Denise's life before or as the outbreak began, but it is known that she was a general practitioner before. It is unknown how or when Denise arrived at the Alexandria Safe-Zone, or if she lived in or near there before the outbreak.
Denise is a young, red-headed doctor whose appearance is distinguished by her glasses, and her significance as one of three doctors of the community. She is also the only one of the three who is a surgeon. Little else is known about her background or her personality; unlike other Alexandria Safe-Zone members, it has not been stated how long she had been in the community before Rick's group's arrival.
After a "runner" named Scott is injured after missing a jump and falling off a rooftop, his partner Heath brings him back to the safe zone with Rick and Aaron's help and brings him to Denise's clinic. She is later seen at the party Douglas throws to welcome Rick's group, but she informs Heath that she is simply making an appearance and needs to go monitor Scott.
As Scott's health declines over the next couple of weeks Denise cares for him, she asks Heath to get powerful antibiotics and other medical supplies. She develops a friendship with Heath as she cares for Scott and begins to sleep with him shortly after Scott dies.
Denise cares for Eric and helps to patch him up after he is stabbed by a unnamed woman when she tried to steal his horse. She is next seen watching Rick as he addresses the crowd about the increasing amount of roamers surrounding Alexandria.
Once the roamers around the Safe-Zone become a problem, Heath decides to leave the community to look for supplies with Glenn, Spencer, and Andrea. Denise isn't happy about it, but she doesn't stop him and instead gives him a hug goodbye before he leaves. After Heath leaves, a wall begins to break causing zombies to flood Alexandria. Denise is asked to help Morgan Jones who had been bitten after the wall broke, while protecting Rick. Denise, Rick, Michonne, Maggie Greene, Carl, Sophia, Jessie Anderson, and Ron Anderson to take refuge inside Rick's house as the roamers wander outside. After Morgan dies, due to loss of blood, Rick decides to take the group and leave. Denise watches in horror as he drags a roamer into the house and begins to chop it up in order to mask their stench to allow them to escape. Denise decides she is going to try to run to her infirmary instead of leaving and Michonne follows her as backup. Soon after she arrives at her office, Rick knocks on her door. Denise opens it and finds Rick holding a severely injured Carl in his arms begging her for help. She begins to frantically work on Carl as Rick holds off the roamers outside.
After Denise successfully saves Carl's life, Rick sits by his son's bedside for a full day. Denise, concerned for his health asks him to eat something. Rick instead tells her about Jessie Anderson's death at his hands. Denise is horrified for a moment and even begins to cry, but turns and tells Rick that she won't tell anyone about Jessie's fate.
A few days later, she attends the funeral for those lost in the invasion and stands next to Heath while crying. She continues to nurse Carl and finally kicks Rick out of her office in favor of his own health. Once Carl wakes up from his coma Denise begins to try to treat his amnesia with Andrea and Rick helping her. A few weeks later a disgruntled resident named Nicholas begins to rebel against Rick as the safe zone's new leader. Denise joins the crowd behind Nicholas, but it is unknown weather or not she agrees with him. After Rick arrives and talks Nicholas down she takes Rick back to her infirmary to take Carl home. Over the next couple weeks Denise continues to check on Carl and make lists of medical supplies for Heath to get.
Denise is one of the first people Rick informs when he captures a stranger lurking outside the community. Rick tells her to prep her infirmary in case of a attack by the stranger's group. While Rick leaves on a scouting mission of the city Denise is tasked to take care of Carl while he's away. While changing his bandages Carl asks her who the stranger is, causing her to stammer and tell him that his father wouldn't want him to know. Carl pretends to leave, but sneaks around back to the stranger and talks to him.
When The Saviors begin to attack Alexandria, Abraham, is killed. Denise presumably attends his funeral and Rick's planning meetings. When Rick decides to take Heath and a few others to the Hilltop to try to get backup, Denise wakes Heath up the night before he leaves to talk to him. She tells him that she knows he can handle himself and that she isn't worried about his safety anymore.
A few days later, Negan, the leader of the Saviors, arrives at the community. Once inside, Negan and his men begin to take half of her medical stockpiles and Denise pulls a gun. She threatens to kill one of Negan's men unless he puts the supplies back, but Rick convinces her to lower her gun.
As Negan leaves, he leans down and whispers something to Rick. Denise begins to question him, but Rick says that it isn't important. Denise begins to yell at Rick, but he cuts her off by telling her to leave if she's unhappy.
Denise is the first person to discover Spencer's corpse, after Negan had gutted him. Horrified and scared, she then ran to Heath crying as he arrives back at the safe-zone with Rick and the others and informs them of Negan's deed. Denise takes shelter as Rick, Heath, Holly, and Nicholas are captured by Negan after a failed assassination attempt. She stays hidden until after Negan leaves and begins to patch Rick and Andrea up and inspects their injuries. Once the war begins, Denise is seen sitting next to Heath in Father Gabriel's church listening to Rick's speech.
As the war begins to hit its peak, Negan and his men arrive at Alexandria and call to Rick. Denise, who had been caring for all the injured soldiers waits behind Rick as he speaks with Negan. Negan sends Holly who had been previously captured, back through the gates as a peace offering. Denise grabs Holly and pulls the hood off her head reveling that she had been killed and turned into a roamer. Denise shrieks as Holly sinks her teeth into her arm. Before Holly can do any more damage, Rick shoots her off Denise. Heath comes running over to help, but has his leg blown off in the process by a grenade thrown by Negan. Rick urges Denise to amputate her arm, however, she tells him that she will need both of her arms to help Heath. Denise is later seen taking care of Heath's leg. Her arm has been bandaged, but the fever is now taking effect, as she is shown sweating profusely. Rick bursts in and hands Carl over to her, after he was caught in one of the grenade blasts. After Carl awakens, Rick walks over to Denise and puts his hand on her forehead to check her temperature.
It appears that her condition is beginning to deteriorate. Rick checks on Denise later on, and she is shown to be in the final stages of the fever. Denise utters "Saved your life" to Heath, after he began to blame himself for her demise. Denise later passes away, and is killed by Michonne before she reanimated.
While trying to lead Holly back into the safe-zone, it was revealed that she had reanimated and she then bit Denise on her arm. Instead of amputating her arm, she keeps it in order to save Heath, who had had his leg blown off by a grenade.
- Michonne (Before Reanimation)
Denise soon passes away from the fever of her bite, with Heath by her side. Unable to put her down, Michonne walks in and does it for him.
The list shows that Denise has killed:
- Possibly numerous counts of unnamed patients (Out Of Mercy)
- Possibly a few zombies
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- "We've been fighting so much lately, and I can't stop thinking about that. In a way... It's kind of like this war, y'know? There's so much out there, so much bad stuff... Why are we fighting? I feel so fucking stupid. I'm sorry, Denise. I'm sorry for everything. Whatever it was we were fighting over... I wish we could have ignored it and been happy for just a little while longer. That would have been... Denise?"
- —Heath to Denise, mere seconds after her death.[src]
Denise's relationship with Heath grew stronger as she was caring for Scott. In Issue 79, after Eric is stabbed and Rick brings him to Denise for treatment, she and Heath answer the door in their underwear, implying that the two had been having sexual relations. In later issues, they are seen talking a lot and also seen in bed together. When Denise sees Spencer's corpse she runs immediately to Heath for comforting showing her trust in him. Heath is horrified when he sees Denise's bite mark on her shoulder, proving that he has feelings for her.
Rick and Denise appear to have a stable relationship. It can be assumed that it has improved when Carl got shot in the face and she successfully patched him up. Rick breaks slightly with Denise when he tells her about Jessie and Ron's deaths, that he had cut Jessie's hand off because she was getting eaten and slowing them down. Denise then agrees not to tell anyone. Rick and Denise relationship then becomes slightly strained after Denise points a gun at a Savior after they took more medicine than they agreed to, Rick calmed Denise down and after the Saviors left Denise and Rick got into an argument, which Heath tried to defuse causing Rick to start shouting at her, telling her if she would rather try her chances out there then fine, no one will stop her.
Carl and Denise have not interacted much. While they did not often socialize with each other, they began to talk more after Carl was shot in the face by Douglas Monroe. After Denise healed him, they've seen to be talking often in order to jog his memory back.
Scott was Denise's patient when Rick Grimes' group arrived. Denise and Scott are not seen talking much but presumably did as she worked on his infected leg. Scott's time in her clinic caused her relationship to bloom with Scott's best friend Heath.
When Negan first visited Alexandria, Negan took drugs and medicine from Denise, causing her to lash out and point her gun at Negan. When Negan came back and gutted Spencer, she showed hatred towards Negan.
Denise was upset after seeing Spencer gutted, and kneeled down to his corpse to comfort him in his final minutes.
- Since Denise's death, there is no known living doctor in the Alexandria Safe-Zone. The other known doctor was Peter Anderson, but he was killed. The name and status of the third doctor is currently unknown.