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Daniel Salazar
Fear the Walking Dead character
Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar
First appearance "So Close, Yet So Far" (2015)
Created by Robert Kirkman
Dave Erickson
Portrayed by Rubén Blades
Spouse(s) Griselda Salazar
Nationality El Salvador

Daniel Salazar is a fictional character in the first three and fifth season of the television series Fear the Walking Dead portrayed by Panamanian actor Rubén Blades. The character was created by Robert Kirkman and showrunner Dave Erickson.

Character biography

Daniel is a highly intelligent, caring, cautious and formidable man who is a strong, determined survivor. Daniel's past as a secret agent of the Salvadoran Junta and CIA has revealed him to be a highly trained killer, having directly killed 100 people himself (with many more killed indirectly). His training and survival skills have shaped him into a formidable combatant. He is highly adept with firearms and hands to hand combat. Daniel is also shown to be a skilled torturer with extensive knowledge of interrogation techniques and is willing, albeit reluctantly, to use this skill when he feel it is necessary to survive. Daniel however does not appear to be pleased with the past atrocities he has committed or was forced to commit, and regrets being the monster that he was forced to become. Despite his murderous past, Daniel has demonstrated that he cares about his family more than anything else and is a loving husband and father who vowed to give his daughter the best life possible in the United States. He hid from her the truth of his past life, and dealt with the trauma privately with his wife's support. Daniel was shown to be devastated by the loss of his beloved wife, the anchor that kept him stable. He subsequently came unhinged for a time and nearly killed himself. Daniel is extremely cautious around those he does not trust, and appears to be highly skilled at identifying a potential threat from body language and social cues.

Season 1

While a riot rages outside, a mob sets fire to the store adjoining the barbershop, forcing the Salazars and Manawas to flee. The group reaches Travis' truck and escapes, but not before Griselda is injured by a collapsing scaffold. Unable to reach a hospital, the group drives to Madison's house. Nick leads Madison and Alicia to the Trans' house next door, where they take a shotgun. Travis arrives and is attacked by Mr. Dawson, who is shot and killed by Daniel. All three families decide to stay the night and evacuate in the morning. Nurse Liza tends to Griselda's injured foot but notes that Griselda will die if not treated by a doctor. Ofelia tells Daniel they should flee with Travis, but Daniel insists his family can survive alone and will join his cousin later. The next morning, as the Clarks and Manawas start driving away, the National Guard arrives and quarantines the block. While Travis says, "It's going to get better," Daniel laments that it’s, "too late," as he watches a guardsman mark the neighboring house. Days after the National Guard quarantines the neighborhood into a Safe Zone, residents try to live normally. Tensions build under the military rule. Ofelia kisses Adams, who was unable to get Griselda's medicine. She sneaks outside the fence to investigate and finds evidence that the guardsmen killed civilians, even the uninfected. Daniel warns Madison of his El Salvador experience, when the sick were taken under the guise of receiving hospitalization but instead killed. Soldiers take Griselda and Nick to a hospital, but Nick's family protests his departure. Liza agrees to go to assist the medical team, despite not wanting to leave her son. Travis retreats to the roof and sees the signal from the Dead Zone. Seconds later, he sees and hears gunfire, followed by darkness. Madison discovers Daniel detaining Adams in the Trans' basement. Travis learns that Daniel tortured Adams into revealing what "Cobalt" means: in the morning, all civilians will be killed, and the guardsmen will evacuate the city. Griselda dies of septic shock at the hospital; Liza shoots her brain to prevent reanimation. Daniel visits a nearby sports arena to verify Adams' story that it was sealed with 2,000 now-zombified civilians inside. The group drives to the National Guard's headquarters to rescue Liza, Griselda, and Nick. Adams agrees to be their guide when let go by Travis. The group infiltrates the base after Daniel distracts the guards by leading a horde of walkers from the arena. Travis, Madison, Daniel, and Ofelia go inside, while Alicia and Chris stay behind. Meanwhile, the walkers breach the perimeter defenses and swarm the base. Travis' group reach the holding cells and set the detainees free before reuniting with Nick, Liza, and Strand. They try to escape through the medical ward, where they discover Dr. Exner has euthanized all of the patients. Dr. Exner tells them of an escape route before presumably committing suicide. Before they can escape, the group encounters Adams, who shoots Ofelia in the arm. Enraged, Travis brutally beats Adams and leaves him for dead. Strand leads the group to his oceanside mansion.

Season 2

The group evacuates to the Abigail as the military bombs Los Angeles, in an attempt to contain the outbreak. Out at sea, the group comes across another boat full of survivors, but Strand refuses to pick them up. Strand informs the group they are heading to San Diego.

The group docks on a nearby island to escape pursuit of the unknown ship. They soon have to leave because George poisoned his entire family as part of a suicide pact, and the group are forced to leave the remains of George's family behind on the island. Daniel was also being haunted by his dead wife and ultimately set a prison full of zombies on fire to honor her, and the fire spread throughout the island, causing him to disappear in the mid-season finale.

Season 3

Daniel returns in the third episode "TEOTWAWKI" after his disappearance in the previous season's mid-season finale "Shiva".

Season 5

In "Here to Help," after getting into a plane crash, Althea radios Victor Strand to look in her tapes for one labeled "Skidmark," stating that the man in question owns another plane he can use to rescue them. To Strand's shock, Skidmark proves to be Daniel Salazar, missing since the destruction of the Gonzales Dam years earlier. Strand pauses the video and stares in disbelief at his old friend.

Development and reception

Daniel is portrayed by Rubén Blades (pictured)

Daniel made his debut in "So Close, Yet So Far". [1] Daniel returns in the third season episode "TEOTWAWKI" after being presumed dead, Matt Fowler for IGN stated, "The return of Daniel in that closing beat was a nice touch and I'm happy to see Rubén Blades back on the show."[2]

The third season episode "100" which centered around Daniel, received critical acclaim. Matt Fowler of IGN gave the episode a 9/10 rating, stating; ""100" felt fresh and immediate and for the first time, even though it only focused in on one main character, Fear the Walking Dead felt wholly like its own unique endeavor. The same universe as the original series, sure, but with vitally different perspectives, angles, and objectives. It kind of answered that recurring question "Why have another Walking Dead show?" as Daniel was constantly saved while also constantly being placed in situations where he was called upon to do harm to innocent people. People who he even owned a great debt to. It was stunning and Ruben Blades was mesmerizing."[3]

In December 2018, it was reported that Rubén Blades would return in season 5 as Daniel Salazar.[4] In the season premiere episode, Daniel makes a second return to the show after being presumed dead in season three's finale.[5]