Dan Gallagher In ‘Fatal Attraction,’ Explained: Exploring Dan As A Man Fate Played A Cruel Joke On

Human pride can be considered of the seven deadly sins because not even God’s favorite was spared from this cardinal flaw. This is one such trait that finds its way into people who are exceptionally good at what they do and bubble with confidence after a long stretch of good luck. However, some time or other, this luck runs out, and what follows is so horrible that people regret the pride that got them in that position. DA Dan Gallagher (Joshua Jackson) in Paramount’s Fatal Attraction TV series was a man who fell prey to the same cardinal sin that got God’s favorite angel cast out. Dan’s pride and his enormous arrogance resulted in his life being turned upside down, although there was a little lust mixed in there. The way Dan’s life went into shambles, one can only think that it was fate that played a cruel joke on him. Let’s look at how a man who had his life on track ended up with almost nothing by the time Season 1 of Fatal Attraction ended.


Walking into a room, having all eyes on you, and being given space because of how important you are must be a coveted feeling for people. Holding a high position in a government office and having people dance to one’s commands are among some of situations that give people a sense of power. Add to that the contributions of a well-respected father who got you your first job just through recommendation, and you’ve got the perfect formula for a smooth ride to the top, which earns him hatred by the ones who didn’t have equal opportunities. Of course, ‘equal opportunity’ is a joke, and no two people are given similar chances to achieve the most out of life, and Dan Gallagher was among the ‘haves.’ Dan headed the Major Crimes Bureau; he was on the fast track for a judgeship; he had a loving wife at home, and he had a beautiful daughter who ran to him for a hug. Honestly, it’s not surprising that people who couldn’t achieve nearly as much as Dan, like the bailiff Ibarra or the prosecutor Ruiz, loathed him.

What could go wrong in this perfect life of Dan’s unless he himself threw a wrench in the works? Dan tasted the bitter pill of defeat for the first time in a long time when he was denied judgeship, and things have only gone downhill since then, but it’s of his own doing. Dan met a charming and beautiful new employee at Victim Services named Alex Forrest, and they quickly struck up a friendship. With Alex, the conversation just flowed, and Dan found himself unconsciously caring about the girl he’d only recently met; he put a hand around the table’s edge to make sure she didn’t bump her head. From there, it was a slippery slope to Alex’s bedroom, and the affair was fiery with passion and excitement. Dan had been seeking excitement like this for years, where he could let go of the boundaries of morality and his image of the family man and just give in to his most primal instincts. Sense returned to him a while later when his wife Beth got back from her weekend trip with their daughter Ellen, and he realized he needed to call the affair off.


However, the biggest mistake Dan made was assuming that the woman he sought physical pleasures with was also in it for the same reasons. When she revealed her truest intentions, her desire to be with Dan like he was with Beth, Dan quickly ran towards the opposite direction. He quickly realized he’d gone swimming in dangerous waters, but he couldn’t get to shore. The sharks had smelled blood, and Dan was trapped between maintaining his image at the workplace and keeping his family together. Fate had begun playing a joke on him, but one could argue that fate smiled when Dan stopped himself from kissing Alex inside an elevator. It was bad enough that Dan believed Alex had broken into their home and killed Beth’s mother, but things took a worse turn when she kidnapped their daughter, Ellen. When a man’s family is threatened, manners and etiquette take a backseat. Dan kicks Alex’s door in and attacks her viciously, leaving her with the ultimatum that Alex would be dealt with by the feds.

Life hadn’t been going according to plan for Dan for a long time, and this time it wouldn’t be any different either. Alex was found dead, and Dan was the primary suspect because he was a proud man. Having been the center of attention at court for years, exuding charm and panache in everything he did, Dan had the hubris to believe that he could finesse his way out of Det. Earl Brooker’s questions. What Dan didn’t know was that the detective had found his fingerprints in Alex’s apartment, and on top of that, Brooker, like many others, hated Dan. His defense, which rested on concealing the affair, was blown wide open, and he was quickly thrown into jail for the murder of Alex Forrest.


Dan was released on parole after 15 years, and he decided to seek justice because, in his heart, he knew that he didn’t kill Alex Forrest. Bad times don’t last forever, but for Dan, his bad luck shall follow him till he steps inside his grave one day. Even as a free man, Dan was verbally spat on and portrayed as a murderer as he struggled to find employment. Every time Dan would be laughed at, ridiculed, insulted, and verbally abused for murdering a “misunderstood” woman like Alex, he knew that fate was catching its side and rolling with laughter because why else should a man continue to suffer for a crime he didn’t commit? A guy whose career Dan had kickstarted, gave him a job as a paralegal at his firm, and he shared a house with his best friend, Mike. Even after all this, he held onto hope that he’d finally have a chance for a trial where he could prove that he was not guilty after all. But circumstances were quick to dash any inkling of hope Dan could aspire to have because, when he showed up with his trial application, the judge already knew what to say. Not only did she vehemently reject his trial application, citing his past falsehoods, but she also had some choice words to insult him further, making Dan hang his head further down in shame. However, the showrunners give Dan a brief respite from the twisted joke fate is playing on him by having his daughter Ellen give him a hug that makes him emotional. Season 1 ends with tears in Dan’s eyes, but for the first time in a long time, these are happy tears because his daughter showed faith in him, pushed him to keep seeking justice and let him know that he was loved.

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Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

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