Sons of Anarchy saw many characters come and go, and season 3 saw the shocking death of Taylor Sheridan’s David Hale, which ended up hurting the rest of the season. Back in 2008, Kurt Sutter took viewers into the world of motorcycle clubs in the action-drama TV series Sons of Anarchy, which premiered on FX to a lot of praise from critics and viewers. Sons of Anarchy lived on for a total of seven seasons, coming to an end in 2014 after lots of conflicts, betrayals, and the departure of many cast members for different reasons.
Sons of Anarchy tells the story of Jackson “Jax” Teller (Charlie Hunnam), VP of the motorcycle club Sons of Anarchy in the fictional town of Charming, California. The events of the series begin when Jax finds a manifesto written by his late father, John “JT” Teller, one of the founding members of the MC, detailing his plans and vision for the club, which were very different from those of the current President and Jax’s stepfather, Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman). This and other problems within the club (and other MCs) send Jax on a personal journey that leads him to question his path, role in the club, relationships, family, and more. Along the way, Jax and the club come across a number of enemies, some of them on the side of the law, as is Taylor Sheridan’s David Hale.
Hale was the Deputy Chief of the Charming Police Department and made his debut in Sons of Anarchy in season 1, and continued to be a recurrent character through season 2. Hale was in the middle of two sides in Charming – his boss, Chief Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie), was on SAMCRO’s side, while his father and elder brother, Jacob Hale Jr. (Jeff Kober), wanted to get rid of the MC for financial gain. Hale, on the other hand, was more concerned about doing the right thing and being on the side of the law and wanted SAMCRO to leave Charming out of genuine concern for the town. Unfortunately, Hale was killed in Sons of Anarchy season 3’s premiere episode, and his death had major consequences in the rest of the season but also left a hole in the rest of the series.
David Hale was one of the most complex characters in Sons of Anarchy and one who wasn’t affiliated to any MC. Hale was painted as an antagonist given that his plans and actions went against SAMCRO, but that doesn’t mean he was a bad guy. Hale spent most of his time in the series in the middle of a moral dilemma, in which helping the club almost always turned out to be the right thing to do, such as in Sons of Anarchy season 1 when he let the club know that Opie (Ryan Hurst) wasn’t a “rat” (though this ultimately led to the murder of Opie’s wife, Donna) and in season 2 he cooperated more with the club after understanding that Ethan Zobelle’s (Adam Arkin) actions were a lot more harmful to Charming than those of SAMCRO. Hale was killed during a shooting that took place during Half Sack’s wake, and it led to many Charming residents growing resentful to the club and his brother Jacob using his death and this resentment for his mayoral campaign.
Although Sons of Anarchy still had Unser after Hale’s death/Sheridan’s departure, the series was left without one of its most interesting and layered characters that weren’t part of the club. As he wasn’t on anyone’s payroll, unlike Unser, Hale brought an outsider perspective to the series which also turned him into a complex character, as he was used as an antagonist but his actions weren’t exactly antagonistic (or, at least, not all the time). Sons of Anarchy was left without this type of character once David Hale was gone, introducing antagonists that were real villains at their core or outsiders that were on the side of SAMCRO and lacked that complexity and depth. Taylor Sheridan’s reasons to leave Sons of Anarchy are understandable, and though his departure hurt the show, it was a needed change in his career as he went on to write movies like Sicario, Hell or High Water, and Wind River (which he also directed), and co-created the TV shows Yellowstone, Mayor of Kingstown, and 1883.