The many screen deaths of Alan Dale

Heart-attacks, serial killers, gunshot wounds and Thalaron radiation. You name it, Alan Dale’s characters have been killed by it…

Warning: contains spoilers for Alan Dale’s roles between 1985 and 2014. Listing them here would more or less defeat the object.

He didn’t die in The X-Files, nor in The West Wing. He got a little bit blown up in 24 and NCIS, and River Song sort of paralysed him in ER. Those were his good days.

Whenever the credits roll on a TV episode or film in which his character doesn’t end up kicking the bucket, it’s a good day for Alan Dale. If he can keep up his current trend of not dying on Once Upon A Time and Dominion then his ratio of role demises to survivals may just start to even out.

Before that happens, join us in a celebration of New Zealand’s answer to Sean Bean as we salute the many on-screen deaths of the omnipresent bit of class that is Mr Alan Dale. Casting directors, if your role requires an actor to convincingly clutch his left arm in agony or be surprised by a fatal bullet, then this is the man for you.

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(And before anyone asks, no, it isn’t a slow news day, this one genuinely comes straight out of our top drawer. Genuinely.)

Houseboat Horror (1989)

Who’s Alan playing? Music video director Grant Evans in Houseboat Horror, a slasher movie that, according to Wikipedia, “critics have often described as one of the worst Australian films ever made”.

Who/what kills him? A knife wielded by rampant serial killer “Acid Head”, the scourge of the houseboat-dwelling film crew following the film’s party-hearty rock band. After harpooning jet skiers, snapping women’s necks and stabbing hitchhikers to death, Acid Head comes aboard the titular houseboat and tussles with Dale’s character, who very nearly bests him before failing to recover from having his head split in half. Watch from about 9:00 in the above clip to see for yourself.

Shirt colour at time of death: A respectable white (though Dale fans may wish to know that just before his character bought the farm, he was canoodling shirtless in one of the spacious houseboat bedrooms).


Neighbours (1985 – 1993)

Who’s Alan playing? Jim Robinson, widowed patriarch of the Robinson family, father to Paul, Julie, Scott and Lucy.

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Who/what kills him? A Golden Retriever and granddaughter play-induced heart attack. After frolicking with young Hannah in the garden of No. 26 Ramsay Street, Jim suffers a heart attack and collapses on the kitchen floor (tipping over the fruit bowl as he does so in what can only be an homage to the famous orange-spilling scene in The Godfather – Jim Robinson being very much the Don Corleone of Ramsay Street).

Dale’s relationship with the Neighbours producers was famously soured by a pay dispute at the time, not only leading to Jim being killed off but also to Dale being “left lying on the floor all day. They enjoyed themselves,” the actor told Metro in 2008.

The moment in question is above, for those on whose memories it isn’t already etched. Look out for the special sad version of the theme song at the end. 

Shirt colour at time of death: A poignant custard.


Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

Who’s Alan playing? Praetor Hiren, the leader of the Romulan Star Empire in the 2370s in Star Trek: Nemesis, under some bumpy-foreheaded prosthetics.

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Who/what kills him? The ‘who’ is Senator Tal’aura, and the ‘what’ is a deadly Thalaron radiation device that looks a bit like one of those electronic Simon games from your childhood. The ‘why’ is that Dale’s character had refused to join forces with Shinzon (Tom Hardy), and ordered some Reman insurgents to be quashed by force, which really got Shinzon’s back up and led to a coup that wiped out the entire Romulan Imperial Senate, including our Alan. See them all turn to dust from about 2:00 in the clip above.

Shirt colour at time of death: Spacey black with a Mandarin collar. Dramatic.


The OC (2003-2005)

Who’s Alan playing? Property magnate Caleb Nichol.

Who/what kills him? Another heart attack, though the poisoned cocktail his gold-digging wife Julie Cooper was mixing him while it happened would presumably have done for him too. Watch Caleb collapse into his swimming pool to the sound of Coldplay’s Fix You while his aforementioned wife, dressed in a teeny leopard-print bikini, leaps to his rescue from around 1:58 above.

Shirt colour at time of death: The ironic green of all the money bankrupt Caleb didn’t have by the time he checked out.

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Ugly Betty (2006 – 2007)

Who’s Alan playing? Bradford Meade, publishing magnate and at the time of his death, groom-to-be of diva Wilhelmina Slater.

Who/what kills him? Yes, another heart attack, this one at the altar. To the sound of Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah cover, Bradford collapses mid-ceremony and dies later on in hospital after some much-needed reconciliation with a few loved ones.

See Dale’s third interpretation of a man whose heart has packed up in the clip above. All his classics are there – the chest touch, the arm pull, the growing sense of facial panic, and finally, the slo-mo drop to the ground. Note that Dale falls forward, but by the magic of television, ends up dramatically supine for all the chest-pounding stuff that follows.

Shirt colour at time of death: White, fancy.


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Lost (2006-2010)

Who’s Alan playing: The villainous Charles Widmore, wealthy industrialist, Other, and general antagonist of the Oceanic Flight 815 gang.

Who/what kills him? Another gunshot wound, this time to the chest, courtesy of his enemy Ben Linus in season six episode, What They Died For. Ben’s justice was a long time coming for Charles.

The actor deals with this one simply enough with a straight collapse to the ground. Classic work there from Dale.

Shirt colour at time of death: A sedate denim blue.


Torchwood (2008)

Who’s Alan playing: Immunologist Professor Aaron Copley in series two episode Reset.

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Who/What kills him? John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness with a gun, right between the eyes. Harkness was entirely provoked though, seeing as Copley had shot Owen seconds before, right after the Professor had attempted to incubate a Mayfly alien in former Doctor Who companion Martha Jones’ stomach, and carried out all kinds of cruelty to aliens in the search to create human vaccines.

Watch Dale sink straight to the floor from about 9:00 in clip above. 

Shirt colour at time of death: White, unlike his conscience.


Midnight Man (2008)

Who’s Alan playing? US global arms dealer Donald Hagan in the ITV miniseries starring James Nesbitt.

Who/what kills him? Another gun, this one shot by his snake of a colleague Blake, in the hope of framing Nesbitt’s investigative journalist for the murder and bringing about a second business-boosting war on terror. You’ll want to start this clip around 28:00 for Dale’s character death.

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Shirt colour at time of death: White with a smart international arms dealer-type tie.


Person Of Interest (2011)

Who’s Alan playing? Former East German Stasi assassin/spy, Ulrich Kohl, an escaped prisoner who becomes the team’s Person of Interest in season one episode, Foe.

Who/what kills him? Reese fatally shoots him, but Kohl – the ultimate assassin – has really engineered his own demise. This one looks about as peaceful as a gunshot wound to the chest can be. See Dale’s character more or less fall asleep on a park bench to death here.

Shirt colour at time of death: White with very fine stripes. As fine as the moral lines international spies have to walk every single day of their lives.


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Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Who’s Alan playing? Councilman Rockwell, member of the World Security Council.

Who/what killed him? The nefarious Alexander Pierce, head of the World Security Council and secret HYDRA mole, using those exploding WSC chest badges. We don’t have a clip for you unfortunately, but know that Dale’s thorax exploded with a sort of quiet dignity.

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