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Characters / King of the Hill - Dale Gribble

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Dale Alvin Gribble
Guns don’t kill people. The government does.

Voiced by: Johnny Hardwick

"If you want I can show you how to make a bomb out of a roll of toilet paper and a stick of dynamite."

Dale Gribble rounds out Hank's circle of friends. Dale, an exterminator by trade, is a paranoid conspiracy theorist who has prepared for just about any unlikely situation you can think of. And yet, he can't seem to figure out that his lovely wife Nancy is having an affair right under his nose.

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  • Act of True Love: Deconstructed. Dale worships the ground his wife walks on. When she feels insecure about her age and fading looks, Dale promises to acquire the money needed for plastic surgery by any means, even suing his beloved cigarette company. However, he performs too well, to the point of driving Nancy away. When the company, afraid of losing the case, offers him a huge settlement, he rejects it without a second thought and instead exploits an entire courtroom to reassure Nancy not only that he loves her, but he considers her the most beautiful woman in the world unconditionally.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Parodied. Bill will tell a joke or story but be horribly injured halfway through. Dale will refer to the joke or the story as entertaining.
  • Afraid of Needles: To the point where he has a fit over getting his blood type test.
  • Agent Mulder:
    • Dale exemplifies this. Amusingly, the most obvious deception in his life is right in front of him, the fact that Joseph isn't biologically his, and he brushes it off as having a Jamaican grandmother whose dark skin and features skipped him and ended up with his alleged son.
    • In one episode, it is revealed that he has a hugely convoluted conspiracy theory to explain this (Nancy was impregnated by an alien), which acts in many ways as the foundation for his other conspiracy theories.
  • Alpha Bitch: A number of episodes will have Dale lead a clique with Bill and Boomhauer then actively bully and ostracize Hank. He can even command his cronies with a snap of his fingers and a, “S’go!”
  • Archnemesis Dad: Inverted. The one most undeniable fact about Dale is that he loves his son Joseph. However, this often causes more harm than good. In “Vision Quest” Dale’s desire to make his son "cool" nearly drives Joseph to kill a helpless panda bear. In “the Smoking Bandit”, Dale’s desire to earn his son’s respect causes a minor vandalism wave that only makes Joseph more rebellious. And in “Of Mice and Little Green Men”, his inability to connect with his son and his rationalization of this drives Joseph to run away from home.
  • Armor of Invincibility: Dale invokes this trope when he wears an actual European suit of armor and, unsurprisingly, becomes an even bigger bully. Bill then dons his own makeshift armor (made out of mostly pots and pans) and defeats Dale in a duel, ending his friend's "reign of terror".
  • Ax-Crazy: When pushed hard enough, or as Hank puts it, when they put stress “on a building that was never up to code in the first place.” Best seen when Dale thinks he has rabies and threatens to murder Hank and Bobby.
    • He has tried to murder Hank on two other occasions. In "Sug Night", after her learns (from John Redcorn) that Hank had an erotic dream involving Nancy, Dale tries to throw a plugged-in toaster into a hot tub that Hank (and Peggy) are in. An in "Dream Weaver", when Hank proves much more proficient at Dale's fantasy job of basket weaving, he tries to kill him with a forklift. But the inefficiency and utter ridiculousness of both of these methods of "execution" (not to mention Dale screaming out to Hank before he does it) strongly implies he isn't seriously trying to kill his childhood friend.
  • Bad Liar: In "Junkie Business", Dale applies for a job at Strickland Propane claiming to have owned and operated "Gribble & Sons Propane" out of Yuma, Arizona since 1984. He's being interviewed by Hank, who has known Dale since they were in first grade. He denies it.
  • Balance, Speed, Strength Trio: The speed to Bill’s strength and Hank and Boomhauer’s balance.
  • Baldness Angst: Whenever his cap gets knocked off, he tends to freak out and quickly cover his balding dome.
  • Basement-Dweller: Probably one of the few examples that isn't a nerd and actually is married with a child. He pretty much lived down there before Nancy stops cheating on him.
  • Batman Gambit: Somewhat hit-or-miss, such as when he dares Hank to tear apart his building permit for a watchtower. Nevertheless, Dale famously defeated Mad Dog with one of these.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Can pull these off with effortless confidence, such as when he exploits an entire courtroom to win back Nancy or cow a DMV employee into correcting Hank’s license. Others are just petty, such a shame when he demands four rooms in the hotel’s “kosher” floor or else be otherwise placated.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Dale loathes the idea of his privacy being invaded or being fooled. Case in point: when he thinks his lawnmower is stolen, it pushes him into a full-blown psychotic breakdown.
    • Nancy. When Dale finds out about Hank’s sex dream, he tries to kill him (along with Peggy, for good measure) with an ELECTRIC TOASTER while they were in the Gribbles' hot tub. When John Redcorn refuses to resume “healing” Nancy, Dale declares John Redcorn dead to him. When he catches his father making out with her on his wedding day (to cover up his homosexuality) Dale slaps him and disowns him. Even after they reconcile, Dale throws a knife at his dad when he merely talks to Nancy (since Bug hasn't told him he's gay yet).
    • Messing in any way with his beloved car, the Bugabago.
    • Joseph. Any threat to his beloved son will be met with his full, unfettered wrath.
  • Best Friend: To Hank and vice versa. As much as Dale tries to hide it, he cares a lot about how Hank feels about him and tends to get genuinely upset whenever he feels he's disappointed Hank.
  • Betty and Veronica: With John Redcorn to Nancy’s Archie. As to who is Betty and who is Veronica, is explored throughout the series, though by the finale it is clear Dale is Nancy’s Betty. He wins.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Subverted since they’re middle aged men, but Dale is the brains who comes up with the zany schemes, Bill is the dumb muscle, and Boomhauer is handsome but passive.
  • Big Bad: Rarely, since most of the time Dale’s antics, though harmful, have good intentions or are tangential to the driving conflict of the episode. However, in “King of the Ant Hill” his envy and pride are responsible for all the woes of Hank and Bobby. Ultimately subverted as in the climax, he pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to rescue Bobby from deadly red ants.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Double Subverted. When he’s about to burst into the gun club and rescue the hostages Hank, Bill, and Boomhauer, he makes things worse and immediately gets caught by Mad Dog. But once imprisoned along he manages to outwit Mad Dog and save the day in the end.
  • Big Eater:
    • It was revealed that Dale can actually put away more food than Bill or Bobby, in spite of his pencil-thin build. He keeps this a secret because he thinks it makes him a freak.
    • He also revealed in "The Exterminator" that he eats nine small meals a day, which adds up to quite a bit.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Along with Boomhauer, he is the thin to Hank’s big and Bill’s short.
  • Birds of a Feather: With Nancy, subtle but there. They are incredibly different in level of physical attractiveness. While Nancy is an outgoing, charismatic local television personality, Dale is a paranoid weirdo. One episode focuses entirely on Dale rejecting the advances of a gender-flipped beautiful exterminator version of himself in favor of his wife. However, both Dale and Nancy share Alpha Bitch tendencies, apparent not just with the neighbors in the gun club and the TV station. Their close friend (Hank/Peggy) underestimates their intellect, ruthlessness and capacity for harm. They both look harmless (giblet head/blonde bimbo) but when pushed hard enough they have explosive tempers. They bring the best out of each other and curtail the worst of each other. They are also perfectly okay with lying to themselves, each other, and everyone else to keep their bubble intact. Not least of all, they have great sexual chemistry (post Redcorn affair).
  • Blatant Lies: Resorts to this every he’s caught redhanded.
    Dale: Hank Did it! Bill did it! I begged them not to!
  • Blood Knight: Downplayed since he is completely incompetent. Having said that, he is ecstatic at the idea of executing a convict and calls it the major leagues for exterminators.
  • Blue Boy, Pink Girl: With Nancy. Downplayed example, since Nancy, in addition to her pink shirt also wears blue pants, but hers are rather muted in contrast to the deep blue of Dale’s, which are the noticeably darker than those of the other guys.
  • Bounty Hunter: Became one for one episode. Worked about as well as you would expect.
  • Brainy Brunette/Dumb Blonde: Perhaps unintentionally, Dale holds the distinction of a unique hair color among cast. While he’s not blond like Boomhauer, Nancy, or Luanne, he’s also not brunette like Hank, Peggy, or Bill. His hair (what remains of it) is ranges between a light sandy brown or even strawberry. That ambiguity, coupled with his baldness, allows him to play with the trope since he can be both unbelievably ditzy and surprisingly cunning.
  • Breakout Character: He becomes one of the most popular characters of the show.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Subverted, since he was wet or soiled himself from mortal fear a couple of times, but he seems indifferent (or even proud!) of the fact.
  • The Bully: see Alpha Bitch above. Whenever Dale and Hank have a fight, Dale will bully Hank mercilessly, which is hilarious since Hank was popular jock in high school and Dale was a loser who made it through because he was friends with Hank and the other guys. Examples of Dale bullying Hank include the mooning episode, the diminished glutes mower race, the Tico’s Tacos adventure, and restraining order. Dale also bullies Bill verbally (but not nearly so much physically).
  • Bumbling Dad: He loves his wife and son dearly, but his being the way that he is frequently impedes his ability to be a good patriarch.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • Surprisingly good at his job as an exterminator (and his temporary job as an office worker in charge of terminating workers).
    • Due to all of his time spent studying conspiracy theories, he has a keen eye for recognizing scams (like when Peggy fell for the IQ test diploma mill).
  • Butt-Monkey: He gets injured quite often.
  • Calling Your Attacks: "Pocket sand!," "ELECTRIC TOASTER!" and "Squirrel tactic!"
  • Camera Fiend: One of his underrated hobbies. He wanted to be a famous cineaste but unfortunately nobody shot a president in front of him. He develops photographs in his basement and even has a snapshot of Bill giving Hank mouth to mouth resuscitation.
  • Catchphrase: More so than any other character in the show.
    • “Wingo!” Whenever he has an eureka moment.
    • “Sh-sh-sha!” After escaping someone or performing some daring acrobatic deed.
    • “Gih!” A half-muffled gasp when he is surprised or caught having done, doing, or about to do something stupid.
    • “S’go!” Usually accompanied by a snap of his fingers. Whenever he plays the Alpha Bitch of the alley, he will command Bill and/or Boomhauer to follow him. They will invariably obey.
    • “Ass.” Said under his breath while he walks away from someone who’s just ruined his fun. (Usually Hank)
    • “You big bully!” To call someone out for doing something he himself is more likely to do—bullying others!
    • “My God, (name).” Exasperated by someone’s (usually Hank) being a wet blanket or party pooper).
    • “How could you, (name)?” Usually said to an animal for behaving, well, like an animal.
    • “Nancy!” Or “Joseph!” At the top of his lungs. Nancy will usually be on her way to John Redcorn or on her way to work. Prebubescent Joseph will obey while teenage Joseph will likely ignore him.
    • “Watcha doin’?” When is curious about something Hank is doing but wants to keep private. Or when Nancy is coming on to him.
    • “Unless...” Whenever Hank is unsure of what to do, Dale will propose two or three absurd ideas, which Hank will immediately shoot down. Then either Dale will offer a slightly less ridiculous idea which Hank will take as a hail-Mary or Boomhauer will break his silence to offer his own plan.
    • “That’s a Gribble of an idea!” On the other hand if Boomhauer or Bill offer a completely ludiocruous idea, Dale will run with it...and probably make it worse!
    • “That’s him! That’s Hank Hill!” If for whatever reason Hank is trying to keep a low profile, Dale will certainly and gleefully point him out to the interested parties.
  • Chaste Hero: Shares this trait with Hank. Though Dale is hardly heroic, he has unyielding fidelity to his wife. And the times he manifests this trait coincide with flashes of heroism, such as when he, without a second thought, rejects the advances the beautiful exterminator or the competitive eating groupie (voiced by Pamela Anderson).
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Double Subverted. While he will not outright win, he will always gain enough of a profit or advantage to be satisfied.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Dale met Nancy in middle school, when she was running a kissing booth at their school carnival.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: Averted with the guys, since they mostly wear various combinations of blue, white, and black. But with Nancy and either Joseph or John Redcorn or Peggy they are blue/pink/green. With Peggy and Minh, Dale is blue, Peggy green, and Minh combines yellow and red.
  • Chronic Back Stabbing Disorder: Will engineer schemes and then betray those foolish enough to follow him.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Dale lives in a complete fantasy world of his own creation. It's one of the many reasons why Nancy was able to get away with cheating on him for 14 years.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: A weird variation in that it's not strictly related to his profession, but Dale is a Crazy-Prepared conspiracy nut who suspects everyone and trusts no one - and can't see the affair his wife is having right under his nose, sometimes right in his home, sometimes right when he's in it too.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Textbook example and justified, since Dale is fully aware of how wimpy he is. Dale will resort to biting, scratching, playing dead, sneak attacks, plenty of backstabbing and, of course, “POCKET SAND!”
  • Comedic Sociopathy: He gets a lot of pleasure out of watching Peggy suffer, particularly on her birthday (and if he can lend a hand in ruining it, all the better). In "Strangeness on a Train," he finally starts to experience some degree of remorse over this.
  • Comic Trio: An interesting example. Dale will invariably come up with the plans, but Bill and Boomhauer alternate roles, since Bill will do most of the work and readily obey Dale, but will be the first to become nervous and afraid. In contrast, Boomhauer is the most reasonable (and the most likely not to join the scheme in the first place) but he is the most quiet and most likely to follow along tacitly.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Dale thinks the fact that Joseph doesn't look like him is either from (a) a Jamaican grandmother whose dark features skipped a generation, or (b) an extraterrestrial who impregnated Nancy.
  • The Comically Serious: In contrast to his purposeful jabs and quips, sometimes he will deliver utterly ridiculous or inappropriate statements with unflappably seriousness.
    Dale: Gentlemen, the crap has literally been scared out of me.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: He really has only one theory, but it is a convoluted web involving the JFK assassination, time travel, aliens, UN global domination, and a worldwide computer information network conspiracy called "The Beast.” And yet he never picks up on the one very real, very obvious conspiracy happening right in front of his face (that of his wife cheating on him with John Redcorn).
  • Contortionist: Implied. The exact extent of his flexibility is unknown but he’s been shown to put both legs behind his head and walk on his hands without effort. No small feat for a heavy smoker in his forties.
  • Cool Car: His beloved ride, the Bugabaggo.
  • Cool Kid-and-Loser Friendship: Zigzagged with Boomhauer. Dale is more often a foil to Hank, while Boomhauer is one to Bill. Indeed, Dale refers to the pair as "a cool married guy and a cool single guy" in contrast to losers Hank and Bill. But several episodes suggest a discreet closeness between Dale and Boomhauer. They go to the same salon to get haircuts and have hunted for sunken treasure together for over 20 years. Whenever one drives the other sits shotgun (unless it’s Bill’s birthday). While playing hooky from voting with Hank, Dale buys Boomhauer a cologne “he will love.” Notably, when Boomhauer is placed under a psychiatric hold he calls Dale first of all people. And they once had a cartoon made of what a child between the two of them would look like. However, while Boomhauer is a textbook cool guy and Dale seems like a loser, Dale is the more assertive and likely to take leadership (especially at the expense of Hank), Boomhauer will invariably follow Dale tacitly.
  • Cool Shades: A classic example. Although in Dale's case, it's more that he really wants to look cool.
  • Crazy Survivalist: Parodied in episode where he imitates Survivor Guy and lives in the backyard.
  • Depending on the Artist: How bald he is when shown without a hat varies. Sometimes he has a mild-to-moderately receding hairline, other times he's as bald as Bill. And in some of the season 1 and 2 episodes, he has a bad combover to try and cover it up. Eventually, they permanently settled on "receded to about halfway up his head".
  • Depending on the Writer: In some episodes, Dale's an excellent exterminator. In others, he appears completely incompetent. Dale's general level of intelligence also seems to fluctuate between episodes. In some episodes, he's erudite enough to quote Langston Hughes or discuss the Observer Effect; other times, he thinks F-I-A-T spells Ford or that digging tunnels under the alley is a good idea. Mostly governed by Rule of Funny.
    • His hyperfixiation on some topics but total ignorance on others in one of many things that has led some fans to speculate that he's autisic.
  • Determinator: Whether he’s right, wrong, or indifferent, Dale will find away. Following Hank to Mexico, stowing away inside Hank’s truck, ruining Hank’s lawn with an ant infestation.
  • Didn't Think This Through: His plan to sue Bazooms for sexual discrimination fails spectacularly when he tries to make his demands (consisting of a piece of paper with the word "money" on it), only for the manager to call him out on his theft due to all the unrung food he gave to his customers and bluntly tells Dale that he'll get nothing as a result.
  • Dirty Coward: And he knows it. He's rather proud of it too.
  • Dishonored Dead: played straight when he vomits on Buckley’s charred remains. Downplayed in "A Fire-fighting We Will Go", senior volunteer firefighter Chet Elderson dies and Hank, Dale, Bill and Boomhauer are pallbearers at his funeral. Thanks to Dale refusing to touch the casket ("It's bad luck'), they drop him, fall into his grave and Boomhauer accidentally pantses him. Then Hank accuses Chet of burning down the firehouse in order to protect the real culprit, Dale.
  • Domestic Abuse: Deconstructed. When he attempts to win a million dollar lawsuit against a cigarette company, Dale feigns to be disgusted by Nancy’s appearance. Dale thinks his performance is Played for Laughs, but to the other characters and the viewers it’s Played for Drama. Since Dale has plenty experience being The Bully, especially to Bill, he performs too convincingly and becomes horrifically verbally and emotionally abusive to Nancy, severely damaging her self-esteem and psychological health. She flees her own home and depends on Hank to prevent Dale from dragging her back. Eerily Truth in Television and along with "Leanne’s Saga" one of the most realistic depictions of domestic abuse in the series.
  • Doublethink: Many of his conspiracy theories contradict each other. For the most part, Dale simultaneously thinks of "the government" as an all-powerful entity that can do whatever it wants without repercussion, while also believing that every government figure of any kind of authority whatsoever is an incompetent moron. The irony of this doublethink on Dale's part is that there's an actual conspiracy going on nearby — his wife Nancy has been cheating on him with John Redcorn for years, and Dale has never noticed. This has been used to show both that Dale is so far gone that he just invents his own reality where he's always right. Hank has called Dale out on this more than once, yet the lesson never seems to stick.
  • The Dreaded: Becomes this during his short stint as Junior Vice President of Human Resources at Stik-Tech.
  • Drunk with Power: Dale becomes this in "The Exterminator" when he becomes the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources of Stik-Tek. The position allows him to fire people (slated for termination due to layoffs) anytime he wants.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Whilst his declaring that Hank can't connect to Bobby is due to Hank being a crappy dad is Played for Laughs and as another Dale Jerkass moment, he's not actually wrong. The biggest issue in Hank and Bobby's relationship is that Hank demands that Bobby conform to what Hank wants his son to be like, think like, and act like. Even in the final episode, they only finally make a connection because Bobby turns out to have a knack for judging the quality and grilling abilities of meat, which is the kind of thing that Hank believes is an appropriate skill for a man to have. So, yeah, Hank might not be as directly abusive as his own father was, but this selfish controlling streak means that Hank is often a pretty awful parent in his own right.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Double Subverted when Hank takes the bullet for Dale. Dale confesses his undying loyalty to Hank’s memory and promises to dedicate his life to propane and protecting Peggy (from Bill). Hank, however is not dying, and when Dale becomes offended by Hank’s wearing a bullet proof vest, Hank berates him for doubting the genuineness of his friendship.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: He likes to think of himself as a badass bounty hunter, but is too cowardly to really do the job. It's probable that he became an exterminator because this allows him to hunt and kill creatures he needn't fear (though even then, he occasionally gets scared of them).
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Averted and frequently employed as part of his Batman Gambits against Hank. When he destroys Bobby’s ventriloquist dummy and Hank threatens to kick his ass, Dale drugs himself, fully aware that Hank is too honorable to harm an unconscious man.
  • Evil Counterpart: Mad Dog in "Soldier of Misfortune" is Dale without the incompetence, cowardice or moral compass. Dale is able to outwit Mad Dog by playing on his paranoia and Hair-Trigger Temper.
  • False Friend: To put it bluntly, Dale is not the kind of friend any sane person should want to have. He turns against his friends quite often and frequently tries to harm or kill them, sometimes even unintentionally when his boneheaded schemes go awry.
  • Family Man: Dale's most positive character traits tend to appear whenever he's dealing with his wife or his son, both of whom he loves dearly.
  • Fan Disservice: Appears onscreen either nude or wearing visibly insufficient underwear uncomfortably often.
  • Fat and Skinny: Frequently pairs off into a classic example of this with Bill, where he is naturally the skinny one.
  • Fingore: In "The Texas Skillsaw Massacre", Hank accidentally severs his good index finger (namely, the one that holds his cigarette butts) with a circular saw when Dale sits it down right in the path of the blades. Dale takes a second to register what happened, then appropriately freaks out. Luckily, he's rushed to the hospital with the digit on ice and has it surgically reattached.
  • Foil: To Hank, who is his complete opposite. Hank is handy, athletic, incredibly straight-laced, reliable, and extremely competent at his job, but is emotionally stunted and naive. Dale is paranoid, libertarian, scrawny, and incompetent at just about anything that doesn't have to do with killing bugs, conspiracy theories, or government loopholes, but is a loving family man with a broader perspective on life. A perfect illustration of their differences is the episode "Dream Weaver", where the two sign up for a basket weaving class. Hank is very reluctant to do something he considers a feminine hobby, while Dale is very proud and enthusiastic about what he has considered a lifelong calling. However, Hank proves to be a natural due to the need for intricate handiwork and knowledge of tools (allowing him to accept it now that he can apply it to his own values), while Dale struggles to do even the most basic steps of the process (as he is better at destroying rather than creating), and quickly spirals into a jealousy-induced breakdown.
    • Also to John Redcorn who is even more dissimilar physically, since he’s stunningly Tall, Dark, and Handsome and has a luxurious glossy black mane. John Redcorn heals, whereas Dale exterminates. But in the end John Redcorn envies and resents Dale for his successful family life (specifically sharing a home with the love of his life and his son).
  • For the Evulz: Subverted. During the execution of one of his hair-brained schemes, he refers to the resulting exclusion and mockery of Bill as “byproduct.”
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: The Cynic.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Choleric.
  • Fragile Speedster: Say what you will, but Dale is an agile, slippery dude.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Much like Bill, the rest of the cast are very much annoyed by Dale's antics, but he can be useful at times and does come through for his neighbors occasionally.
  • Friendless Background: Implied to have one before meeting the guys, since he was a loner and labeled a freak.
  • The Gadfly: Will never hesitate at the opportunity to point and laugh at someone when they’re down (most often Bill, Hank, or Peggy). However, Hank also won’t hesitate to punch Dale in the arm whenever he crosses the line (aka when he insults Peggy).
  • Genius Ditz: He's a delusional idiot, no question about it, but he also shows rare flashes of genuine cunning.
    • Dale seems to have genuine skill in foreign languages, as he's seen speaking Russian, Spanish and Tagalog on various occasions.
    • His conspiracy theories have given him enough understanding of the government that, with no formal legal training, he is able to get John Redcorn a FOIA request processed quickly (such requests often take months, if they are answered at all) and also has the government return 12 acres of land stolen from the latter's tribe (but is still unable to comprehend that John Redcorn was sleeping with his wife.)
    • "Dale to the Chief" shows that he has an intimate knowledge of government officials and their relations, and uses that to force an Obstructive Bureaucrat to fix an error in Hank's license.
    • In one episode, he gives a brief but detailed description of "The Observer Effect," with which his implied schizophrenia seems to have given him a familiarity.
  • Girl Posse: Gender-Inverted and parodied, since they are middle aged men. But Dale will invariably be the Alpha Bitch, Bill is the Beta Bitch who parrots Dale and mirrors his body language, and Boomhauer does little more than stand next to Dale and look handsome.
    • Invokes this trope in "Cops and Robert" where he manages to get employed as a server at "Bazooms" (a Hooters knock-off). When his plan to sue the manager for sexual harassment fails, he tries to induce his fellow servers (beautiful, buxom women) to attack him.
      Dale: "Get him, girls!"
      (the girls just roll their eyes and walk away)
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: As much as he dislikes Peggy, they join forces a number of times: "A Bill Full of Dollars," "Peggy's Gone to Pots" (though that was because they both realized that the trouble they were in is so great that it would take a murder-suicide to make it go away, and since they hate each other, they do legitimately consider it) and "Full Metal Dust Jacket" come to mind.
  • Good Parents: For all of his numerous flaws, he's a devoted father and husband.
  • Greed: A defining motivator of his. Dale will never pass up an opportunity to make a quick buck, even or, perhaps, especially by exploiting his friends. From charging a dollar to use a portable toilet, fraudulently selling the healing properties of bees, trapping an old woman’s ghost in his basement, and even stealing a made up treasure map from a marriage counselor and blindfolding Bill so he call help Dale find the treasure but not take it for himself. Poor Bill even says that he’s not interested in the treasure—-he’s just happy spending time with Dale!
  • Greek Chorus: Far more often than Boomhauer and mostly Played for Laughs. Out of the entire cast, Dale is the most likely to comment on just everything and everyone around him. He can be surprisingly insightful, but since the insight is buried under the piles of insults and paranoid nonsense, no one takes him seriously.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Implied to be the reason why he hates Peggy so much. He knows he’ll never be as close to Hank as she is. Happens even more overtly when Hank spends time with his own expy, Hal.
  • Gun Nut: Goes hand in hand with being a Crazy Survivalist, and he is also quite the Miles Gloriosus about his exploits.
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: While not to the extent of Bill, Dale is shown with a full head of medium length Shaggy-like hair in his youth.
  • A Handful for an Eye: He's Crazy-Prepared enough that he can do this anytime he wants, thanks to his trusty "Pocket Sand!"
  • The Heavy: If Dale is to play an antagonistic role in the episode, this will be his default. Dale may have some involvement in the catalyst of the episode but he will rarely be the main cause of the conflict (not unlikely because he is too wimpy). For four Hank-centric examples, in “the Texas Skilsaw Massacre” the primary conflict is between Hank and his anger management, in “to Kill a Ladybird” The conflict is between his love for his dog and his son. “Pregnant Paws” is about his and Peggy’s failure to conceive. And “Hank’s Back story” is about Hank managing his diminished gluteal syndrome. In each of this episodes it is Dale’s actions that move the plot forward and drive Hank (often out of frustration) to face his conflict.
  • Henpecked Husband: Not always present, but there are a few lines here and there that imply Nancy definitely wears the pants in that house. He apparently even has an allowance.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Like the rest of the guys, Dale deifies Hank. When Dale prints his own currency he puts Hank on the $100 bill. The list of people he trusts includes Hank but not Dale himself. This doesn't stop Dale from excluding Hank during the former's Alpha Bitch moments (and, even then, it's possible that this is a misguided way for Dale to feel as important as the man he claims to look up to.)
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With all three guys at different times and for different reasons.
    • Hank won’t admit it but he considers Dale his best friend. As a clue Hank will always stand next to Dale.
    • Dale picks on Bill the most but the two commiserate over being “two beta males at the top of their game.”
    • Boomhauer, discreetly, but there. If Boomhauer has to hang with only one of the guys he will do so with Dale more times than with Hank and Bill combined.
  • Hypocrite:
    • In some episodes such as "A Firefighting We Will Go" and "It Ain't Over 'Til the Fat Neighbor Sings" Dale makes fun of Bill's baldness even though Dale himself is also going bald.
    • Despite crying at the drop of a hat he makes fun of Hank for “weeping like a little French Girl.”
    • Despite his anti-government views, he will take advantage of the law or government programs when it's in his favor like when he had the restraining order on Hank or recieving welfare checks as "Rusty Shackleford".
    • He's very paranoid about his privacy being invaded, whether by the government or his neighbors. Yet he frequently spies on his neighbors, often bugs or records people's conversations, and usually blabs their secrets publicly.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • When it comes to an episode that in some way deals with Nancy's affair with John Redcorn and their child that came from it, just about all of Dale's dialogue will be heavily laced with hypocritical statements. Not because he knows about the affair, but solely for Rule of Funny.
      • In the episode in which he reveals he knows Joseph isn't his biological son, after blaming his problems with connecting with Joseph on this fact, he then declares that Hank can't connect with Bobby because Hank is just a crappy dad.
    • He's paranoid about federal interference in his personal life, but a lot episodes highlight his invasion of his friends and neighbors' privacy on a whim.

  • Idiot Ball: While Dale's intellect is already spotty, he prominently carries this during some episodes where John Redcorn is meant to appear sympathetic. As in, while Dale is usually a good parent to Joseph, Dale will grasp the Idiot Ball with his parenting skills in order to validate John Redcorn feeling bad about not being more present in Joseph's life.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Was drawn to look like Robert Patrick who was originally supposed to voice him.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Convoluted pseudo-logic is a skill he has mastered and used in every possible circumstance.
    • To protect, as Peggy puts it, his “pathetic bubble of a life.” He convinces himself that aliens abducted his DNA to inseminate Nancy and conceive Joseph.
    • For petty profit. He tries to get a dollar off price of admission at the Renaissance fair by arguing that his time traveler outfit is a period costume.
    • To get attention, or as Hank puts it, “sometimes I think you say things just to hear yourself talk.”
    • To antagonize others. He suggests Bill should impregnate Peggy so they both have a child. This one earns him no-holds-barred punch from Hank.
    • Apparently out of total stupidity. When his freedom is at stake for drug possession he brings a precaught fish to the boat to pass it off as a fresh catch. But the fish is frozen because he had a coupon.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: with Bobby in different capacities. Avuncularly, as his acting coach, complicitly as paper boys, and treacherously as school vandals.
  • Irony
    • Thinking John Redcorn is a true friend, despite the many times Dale should have gotten the hint that Nancy was cheating on him with John. When he think Hank is into his wife, he loses it.
    • Loves guns, owns a plethora of them and is president of a local gun club. Despite having all the firing accuracy of Helen Keller.
    • He believes in every baseless Conspiracy Theory he's ever heard, yet never picks up on any of the very obvious clues to his wife's affair with John Redcorn or that Joseph is clearly not his biological son. As Mike Judge put it, Dale "believes every conspiracy except the one going on in his own house."
  • It's All About Me: To almost childish degrees. To give one example, when all of Rainey street comes together to film the cowboy movie and save the children, Dale makes sure to include Dale’s Dead Bug bugabago in Every. Single. Shot. Because getting free publicity was worth making Arlen look like a bug-infested dump.
  • It's Personal: With Hank. Dale reveals as much during the lawnmower race.
    Dale: I can still beat Hank—that’s even better than winning!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Yes, he's shallow, selfish, tactless, cowardly, unethical and quick to blame everybody and anybody else for whatever problem he caused. However, to say he loves his wife and son is a huge understatement. He dotes on his son Joseph, even though he isn't even Dale's biological son, putting him before everything else in the universe and defending him with his life despite his cowardly nature. He worships the ground his wife walks on and treats her like royalty, which she does not even deserve, having cheated on him for fourteen years (and when another woman comes on to him, his only reaction is confusion; he can't understand why she's even trying, because he's married and that's all there is to it). Also, on numerous occasions, he risks his life and/or sacrifices himself for Hank. For example, secretly switching Hank's low-running oxygen tank for his own full one before going to put out a fire. He was also willing to help John Redcorn get his tribe's land back from the federal government to make up for accidentally hitting him over the head with a lamp.
  • Jerkass:
  • Jerkass Has a Point: He does have merit into being upset in some situations, like his whole Kidney situation. He was very annoyed that Hank guilt tripped him into donating his Kidney to a popular race car driver. It got worse when it turns out that it wasn't even necessary and was literally robbed of his kidney because Hank got a taste of his own medicine. Dale, while doing the right thing and giving the kidney to a sickly child who needed it, has every reason to be upset if he so chooses.
    • He admits that He can’t stand Peggy to the point that He likes seeing her fail (especially when it comes to her birthday parties) Although it’s not hard to see why Dale would see her in an unfavorable light. Peggy has proven to have a massive ego which has led her to do many morally questionable actions throughout the series. Said actions have also earned her a surprising number of enemies and have gotten herself and her family in trouble on more than one occasion.
  • Kavorka Man: He's not really ugly, but he's pasty, pencil-thin, and rapidly going bald. He still managed to attract Nancy, a sexy competitive eating groupie (voiced by Pamela Anderson) and a beautiful female exterminator (voiced by Janeane Garofalo).
  • Kick the Dog: In order of incidence: Bill, Peggy, Hank.
  • The Kirk: Generally, he will balance Bill as The McCoy and either Hank or Boomhauer as The Spock. However, if the plot revolves around saving Bill from self-destruction, Dale will take the role of The McCoy.
  • Kukris Are Kool: He can hold a kukri with his teeth!
  • Large Ham: When he gets excited, he jumps straight into this territory.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In "Peggy's Gone to Pots", Dale's frequent use of the "Rusty Shackleford" alias finally comes back to bite him when Rusty himself comes to confront him about his identity . Dale actually thought he died years ago.
  • Last-Name Basis: To Boomhauer, who always calls him “Gribble.” Noteworthy, since Boomhauer always calls Hank and Bill by their first name (unless he’s mad).
  • Lethally Stupid: The time he fires a warning shot from an armored tank almost gets him and the guys blown up. Indeed, it leaves Bill seriously hurt.
  • The Load: Depend on Dale in any way at your own risk.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Almost every adult on the street already knows Nancy is/was having an affair with Redcorn and that Joseph is his son, to the point that when Peggy finally realizes it herself she's stupefied by both Dale's obliviousness and everyone's refusal to speak up about it. Ultimately, by the end of the series Dale is the only one still completely unaware.
  • Logic Bomb: Will occasionally drop those.
    Dale: I wish the government would just ban itself! Wrap your head around that one fellas.
  • Malaproper: Too many to count and of memetic proportions, whether it’s the films of M. Night Sham-a-la-ma-lam or hostile autonomatonomatoms. He is even convinced one day Joseph will kill him and marry his mother, that is to say Dale’s mother!
  • Manchild: Loves clubhouses, dressup, and throwing tantrums.
  • Master Actor: Deconstructed. Most of the time Dale is a terrible actor donning Paper Thin Disguises. But it’s implied those are cases of him just having fun without trying very hard. The one time he makes a serious effort to act, he does so to win a million dollar lawsuit against Manitoba cigarettes. Unfortunately he does so by pretending he found Nancy unattractive from secondhand smoke exposure, and did the job well that he severely hurts Nancy's feelings and she nearly divorces him. He wins her back by putting on an even more outrageous performance in the courtroom.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • His once estranged Father is named Bug. Dale is an exterminator.
    • A dale is another word for “valley,” Dale’s best friend is Hank HILL.
    • A gribble is type of marine worm, which alludes to his profession and his character.
    • His middle name, Alvin, means “old friend” and alludes to his friendship with Hank and the guys.
    • Doubles as Ironic Name, since Alvin also means “noble friend”...
    • Also, "Dale" and "Alvin" are the names of two iconic cartoon chipmunks, emphasizing on how nutty Dale is.
  • Men Are Uncultured: Averted. In contrast to Hank, who plays this trope straight, Dale is more well rounded than the other guys when it comes to hobbies. He shares Hank’s manly interests in sports, cars, craftsmanship, fishing, and in fact is a better marksman than Hank (though that’s not saying much). Indeed, Dale’s passion in life is to kill things with as many weapons as possible. At the same time, Dale is equally comfortable baking desserts, coaching actors, watching dinner theater, dancing, yoga, and writing children’s storybooks. Even more, he enjoys playing dress up (from the future, deaf electrician, albino Indian) and building clubhouses.
  • Miles Gloriosus: He's very much a braggart and a gun-nut, but when real danger comes knocking, he'll split more often than not.
  • Morality Pet: To Nancy. Peggy realizes the reason Nancy could be the way she is in "Nancy Does Dallas" (a ruthless backstabber) is because she isn't distracted by Dale or his antics.
  • Murder-Suicide: Invoked and Played for Laughs. After Hank takes the bullet for Dale, Dale becomes offended that Hank was wearing a bullet proof vest. Hank admits to expecting Dale could kill him, but reveals that he also expected Dale to kill himself after.
  • My Greatest Failure: Played for Laughs. Apparently he had one shot at being cool (embarrassing his high school principal) but he blew it, this regrets leads to...
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Played for Drama: He’s determined not to let Joseph blow his chance at being cool, unfortunately this involves pushing the impressionable boy to hang with teenage vandals. It takes the efforts of Bobby, Hank, and John Redcorn to stop Dale from ruining Joseph’s life.
  • Nervous Wreck: Threatening to pop his bubble of delusion can reduce Dale to trembling, yelling mess.
  • Never Bareheaded: Because he is embarrassed about his hair loss, he rarely takes off his cap.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: Depending on the circumstances. Between the guys, Dale will be the mean, to Bill’s nice and Hank or Boomhauer’s in between. However, when the plot revolves around a new person, Dale will usually become smitten and be the nice along with Bill, Boomhauer stays in between and Hank will be the mean, since he is the most likely to become suspicious or judgmental of the new person.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Dale bears more than passing resemblance to Hunter S. Thompson, and Mike Judge modeled the character after Robert Patrick, who was initially supposed to voice Dale. Dale's voice, political beliefs, and day job are all caricatures of William S. Burroughs.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: If he finds someone interesting he will examine them with eyes, nose, and hands without asking for permission.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: Zigzagged with John Redcorn. From the beginning they challenge the stereotype, since one would expect the white man to be civilized, while the indigenous person of color to be a savage. But Dale first appears crass, rude, and mundane and insensitive, and unscrupulous whereas John Redcorn is charming, gentle, quiet, and mystical bordering on parody. Dale is an exterminator whereas John Redcorn is a healer. However, as the series progresses John Redcorn reveals his womanizing ways. It’s implied he has several sugar mamas and he uses his spiritual persona to pick up women. In contrast, Dale reveals his sweetness and naïveté. More importantly he proves to have an unwavering devotion and fidelity to Nancy.
  • Noodle Incident: Exploited, oddly enough. Dale’s stories and side comments are fueled by these, but because of his big mouth and attention seeking, it’s difficult to ascertain which are actual incidents and which are outright lies. One does wonder the purpose of “all the binging, the purging, the constant inoculations...”

  • Obstructive Zealot: Dale's fanatical anti-government views cause Hank no end of grief. When his beliefs are inverted into blind patriotism, he gets even worse.
  • Odd Friendship: With Minh. His friendship with Hank is also an example, as, in spite of their closeness, they couldn't be more different people.
  • Off with His Head!: Thanks to John Redcorn of all people, Dale has a vision of being decapitated in bed by a human sized praying mantis.
  • Oral Fixation: To cigarettes, of his own admission.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: For some unexplained reason, he repeatedly compliments Bill's appearance in "Returning Japanese".
  • Papa Wolf: In "Dale to the Chief," when he hears Joseph suddenly cry out in his room (because he's having a bad dream), Dale bursts in there with a loaded gun in each hand ready to kick the ass of whoever is bothering Joseph. For someone as cowardly as Dale, that's pretty ballsy.
    • There's also something to be said of him jumping into action and saving Bobby from the fire ants that were attacking him.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Apparently he has a thousand, but if they all are as convincing as the Deaf Electrician...
    • When working as a bounty hunter, he dresses as a florist but forgets to remove his baseball cap with "Bounty Hunter" written on it. He later poses as a pizza delivery man, with a shotgun sticking out of the pizza box.
  • Pet the Dog: On very rare occasions, he actually does manage to be a really good friend.
    • An example of this is when he kept trying to convince Bill that people really viewed him as a freak when he started participating in hot dog eating contests. Dale wasn't doing it to be malicious, but because he had a similar experience when he was a kid.
    Dale: Remember, Bill. Just because you have their attention, doesn't mean you have their respect.
    • A more consistent example would be his relationship with his family. He's a loving (if incredibly eccentric) husband and father who is extremely open-minded about both his wife and son's life choices.
    • Also he was perfectly fine with his dad turning out to be gay. However, he was ready to disown him when he thought his dad was a federal agent.
    • At the end of "King of the Ant Hill," he risks his life saving Bobby from a swarm of fire ants. (That he had intentionally infested Hank's yard with himself in the first place, but still...)
    • In "Dale Be Not Proud" he agrees to donate a kidney to a sick man, who later turns out to not actually need it. Dale takes his kidney back and appears to run off with it, until he discovers another sick boy who does need it and happily gives it up.
    • He is normally the most hostile towards Bill and often bullies him but when Bill is believed to be paraplegic in "Dia-Bill-ic Shock", Dale becomes the most supportive and friendly to him.
    • Has a profound respect and affection for Cotton Hill. He almost exclusively calls him "Colonel", and always takes his side in his disputes against Hank, Cotton's biological son. In the episode "Daletech", when Dale's machinations result in Cotton giving up his role as a "Citizen On Patrol" (relegating him back to senior daycare), Dale feels so guilty he opts to look after Cotton and spend the day with him in his own home, so the decorated veteran doesn't have to go back to "that place". He also fulfills Cotton's "dying wish" by destroying Hank's shed (built by Hank in remembrance of Cotton).
  • Plot Allergy: His allergic reaction to bee stings snaps Hank out of his insurance paranoia.
  • The Prankster: Does anyone doubt for a second whose idea it was to trick Hank into mooning an entire hotel?
  • Precision F-Strike: Drops the one use of the f-word in the entire show (bleeped, naturally), after spending 60 hours straight behind a microphone for his pirate radio station.
    Dale: And I can't drum up any new sales since I'm stuck behind this F#@%ING microphone 24 hours a day...
  • Prone to Tears: Depending on the Writer, zig-zags between this and Nerves of Steel. It takes little pushing of the right buttons to reduce Dale to uncontrollable weeping. At the same time, Dale can demonstrate the unflappability of an assassin, such as when the exploding gun club sends Hank screaming to the ground while Dale smokes a cigarette.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • In "Untitled Blake McCormick Project", Dale had some suspicions about the daughter of Bill's new girlfriend and despite Hank telling him not to ruin it for Bill, Dale managed to get a hair sample from the girl to run a DNA test. As it turned out, the girl was Joseph's half-sister. There's also Operation Infinite Walrus. In that instance, even Dale seems surprised that his theory is correct. Subverted, mostly, when it turns out Bill was just given a placebo.
    • In "Megalo-Dale," Dale becomes convinced that Chuck Mangione is living inside the Megalo-Mart judging by the excrement left by the supposed rat infestation and by examining the bite marks seen around the store. He was right on all accounts. Chuck was living in the store to hide out from the contract he got sucked into by the Megalo-Mart corporation.
  • Pungeon Master: Tries to at least. "Looks like the cat is out of the bag. This is a catastrophe. Cat...You've got a Cat!"
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Zigzagged. Dale is not exactly manly, especially not next to the likes of Hank, John Redcorn, or even his own son. However, Dale has the same manly interests as Hank. Even so, he is aware of his wimpiness. Nevertheless, he is obsessed with being thought as savage killer, soldier of fortune, avid lover, and definitely not a homosexual (per his own cross-examination of himself). This does not stop him from reading romance novels, baking desserts, and weaving baskets.
  • Reason Before Honor: Goes without saying, since he is the polar opposite of Hank in this respect.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Exploited by Hank. Dale gives Bill one so powerful it leaves Dale breathless but saves Bill from being court marshaled.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The red to Hank and Boomhauer’s blue. In the episodes where he teams with Peggy he will be the blue to her red.
  • Refuge in Audacity: A key part of his MO. Many of Dale’s schemes are so outrageous that most people are too stunned to react properly.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What exactly did he keep in the basement for twenty years until Nancy made him donate it to the teaching hospital?
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: In one episode, he reveals that he knows that Joseph is not his son, pointing out that they look nothing alike and have almost nothing in common, and most importantly he was nowhere near Nancy during the timeframe needed to be Joseph's father. But he believes Joseph is half-alien, part of a ploy by the aliens he was seeking out in Marfa at the time of Joseph's conception, rather than realising that Joseph is actually John Redcorn's bastard son.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: A relatively harmless and comedic example; Dale has all of the ideological requirements, but is a lousy shot and a feeble coward to boot. He's mostly content to avoid the government rather than oppose it outright.
  • The Rival: Hank. Sometimes Dale will take a break from fawning over him and exhibit a bitter rivalry. A classic example is the lawnmower race.
  • Schemer: His various schemes frequently make up the episodes' b-plots.
  • The Schizophrenia Conspiracy: In one episode, he gets sent to a mental institution because he lectures a clinic administrator on why more people are getting allergic to peanuts, because apparently they are tired of being eaten and have begun emitting a poison as a defense; when Hank sorts everything out and explains that Dale was never admitted to the hospital, he mentions the psychiatrist wants Dale to continue taking his medication. After this episode, Dale seems to become more aware of his own odder tendencies, and is, along with Bill, eager to convince Hank that Kahn, a manic-depressive, needs his medication to function.
  • Self-Induced Allergic Reaction: One of his stupidest moments. Despite being aware of his allergy to bee stings he deliberately exposes himself to them to heal his dislocated arm.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Both ways. He is sensitive guy to Hank’s manly man and the manly man to Bill’s sensitive guy.
  • Serious Business: Towel managing, his position on the high school football team.
  • Sexless Marriage: Downplayed. During the affair, Nancy apparently has sex with Dale on Christmas and on his birthday. She becomes very depressed during the holidays.
  • Sexual Karma: While Nancy cheated on him he had sex only on his birthday and Christmas, which made Nancy depressed during the holidays. After she stops cheating and their marriage stops (as Hank puts it) crumbling, the couple has an active and healthy sex life.
  • Sissy Villain: Whenever he's acting as the episode's antagonist.
    Dale: Hahaha! Is that what you are Hank? A prepubescent girl?
    Hank: Could a prepubescent girl kick your ass?
    Dale: Probably.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: He really hates Peggy, often being the only person In-Universe to call her out for stupid behavior. Though some episodes take this up a notch, like Dale gloating over Peggy's disastrous birthday party.
  • Sleeping Single: Nancy and Dale sleep in separate bedrooms until she breaks off the affair with John Redcorn.
  • The Sleepless: Throughout the series, but especially in the first three seasons. Dale would be shown awake at all hours of the night playing in his basement, watching TV, or sitting in his den smoking, lights out, Cool Shades on. It’s implied to be symptomatic of his paranoia, tobacco consumption, and mental issues. After he starts taking medication and the affair ends and he resumes sleeping in Nancy’s bed, he is shown to be sleeping more often.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead / Never Speak Ill of the Dead: In the Same breath.
    Dale: What a moron—may he Rest In Peace.
  • Sticky Fingers: Constantly “borrows” Hank’s tools. When Bill becomes suicidal, he actively loots him. It’s also implied he helps himself to his clients property while he fumigates their houses.
  • Straw Loser: Zigzagged and reconstructed. He's a paranoid, wimpy basket case who is too stupid to realize that his wife is cheating on him in plain sight and that his dark-skinned son is the product of said affair. However, since he mostly hangs out with Bill (who plays this trope completely straight) he comes out looking better in comparison. He worships Hank, but as The Bully and Alpha Bitch, Dale is more likely to lead the clique, and bully and exclude Hank mercilessly (and that is to say nothing of his nonstop physical and verbal abuse of Bill). Dale devises schemes more often than any other character and has dragged in at one time or another just about everyone in Rainey street (with the possible exception of Connie). But as the weakling he is, Dale will be the first to bail when things sour, leaving his associates to deal with the mess. One notable exception is in “The Exterminator.” As noted above, he’s a better family man than Hank, and despite John Redcorn being the best looking guy in the series, Dale ultimately gets to keep both Nancy and Joseph (a fact John Redcorn is painfully aware of). The episode where this trope plays in full effect ("The Smoking Bandit"), has Joseph disrespect his father (while still respecting Hank and Nancy), but by the end of the episode Dale has become a local anarchist sensation and earns back his son’s respect (and elude Intrepid Reporter wannabe Peggy). In short, Dale is aware of how much of a loser he is, but that awareness has only made him more clever, cunning, and ruthless about employing the strengths he does have to overcome it.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: For some reason has an exploding mailbox. For an even more enigmatic reason he also rigged Hank’s mailbox.
  • Sunglasses at Night: More like, "Sunglasses 24/7/365."
  • Super Gullible: It is ludicrously easy to trick him.
    Nancy: I don't know why you'd want to fool Dale like that. I mean, it's not hard, if you're someone he trusts...
  • Supreme Chef: He’s apparently a gifted baker, known for his lemon bars, cookies, and (especially) macaroons. This is probably explained by....
  • Sweet Tooth: He loves baked goods and soda (see Trademark Favorite Food). Whether he qualifies as a Genius Sweet Tooth depends on Rule of Funny.
  • Terrible Trio: On the episodes where he and Hank have a fight, Boomhauer and Bill will invariably side with Dale.
  • The Three Faces of Adam: Again depending on the circumstances. With Bill and Boomhauer, Dale will be the Lord, Bill the Hunter and Boomhauer the Prophet. If Hank is involved, he will naturally hold authority and be the Lord, Boomhauer stays the Prophet and Dale becomes the Hunter.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: On the rare occasions he doesn't wear his sunglasses.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Inverted. When he thinks his father is coming on to Nancy, he apparently throws a warning knife at the mannequin next to his father’s face with perfect precision...then it turns out Dale was aiming for his father’s face all along and warns his father next time he will aim at the mannequin and hit him!
  • Together in Death: Invoked but thankfully averted in the end. When Dale and Nancy (and Peggy) are trapped in the wildfire. Dale displays uncharacteristic gallantry and embraces his wife and comforts her, assuring her that he’s happy the two will die together (He also makes sure to tell Peggy to move away and die by herself).
  • Too Dumb to Live: See Self-Induced Allergic Reaction for just ONE example.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: He loves his Mountain Dew to the point that he tried to stockpile several 55-gallon drums of the stuff to prepare for Y2K, and when he donates a kidney to a boy in need, he instructs the kid to be sure and give the organ one can of Dew per week ("He likes it"). Also, he is, of his own admission, addicted to cranberry-macadamia-nut muffins.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: While Dale isn't exactly ugly, he's still a scrawny, balding weirdo who is nowhere near as attractive as his bombshell of a wife is.
  • The Unfettered: Likes to scoff at the law almost as much he loves to arbitrarily enforce it!
  • Verbal Tic: “Gih!” A half aspirated gasp whenever he is startled.
  • Vocal Evolution: His voice started out being rather low and gruff in season one, then kept getting higher-pitched with each season. And by the end of the show, his accent shifted from stereotypical Texan to almost Yankee-sounding.
  • Walking Armory: Played for Laughs. Apparently, Dale keeps poison, guns, daggers, and knives under his exterminator uniform. Noteworthy since all he actually wears under his uniform are tighty-whities.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Inverted. He and Nancy are already married at the start of the series and she is already in an apparently committed relationship with John Redcorn. The trope is played more as Will They or Won't They? get divorced? Even after the affair ends, the couple hits plenty of rocky spots and the affair threatens to rekindle. This contrasts with Hank and Peggy’s marriage, since despite plenty of clashes, the Hills never stop having “a solid foundation based on routine.” In the end, Dale and Nancy don’t get divorced.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dale is not evil, just immature and petty, and he loves his family sincerely. But as The Unfettered he rarely measures the lengths he’s willing to go to show that love. When he tries to win the money to pay for Nancy’s plastic surgery he turns in brutal domestic abuser. When he tries to make Joseph cool, he drives his son to slaughter a helpless (not to mention endangered) creature.
  • Western Zodiac: Like Bill, he is a Cancer, and a textbook one at that. He is cranky, cantankerous, and snippy, but also tenacious, family-oriented, and sensitive. The crab, an invertebrate critter alludes to his profession and his spinelessness. It also connect with his last name, which is a marine worm. The sign of Hermes connects him to trickery and verbal persuasiveness. And the water sign is appropriate to one who works with poisons. As an emotional sign he contrast with Hank and Boomhauer who are both Aries, and thus fire, rational, levelheaded and noble, but at the same time also rigid and less adaptable.
    • Nancy his also an Aries and this fits the volatility of their relationship.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: A particularly touching subversion. Dale takes off his Cool Shades very rarely and when he does his eyes don’t seem particularly attractive since they are relatively small and squinty. But his wife finds them charming.
    Nancy: Oh, I forgot you have brown eyes! They’re so cute and close together.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Has a crippling fear of ventriloquist dummies.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: When Hank wears Peggy's dress to snap Bill out of his cross-dressing psychosis, Dale believes it to be a party game and feels left out. He immediately leaves the party to dress in Nancy's clothes, purse included, and even goes so far as to remove his hat and expose his baldness. All because he wanted to fit in with his friends.
  • With Friends Like These...: Dale has suggested killing (or attempted to kill) his friends on many occasions. A main reason Hank puts up with him is that he's too incompetent to really pull it off.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Downplayed. He frequently threatens to get into scuffles with little girls and old ladies but fortunately Hank is always there to restrain him.
  • Your Mom:
    • Subverted with Hank. Dale makes fun of him either for being an embarrassment to his dad or sharing an passion for miniatures with his mom.
    • Inverted with Kahn. Dale is genuinely surprised that Kahn was born from a normal mother and not a pod.