Joe Dawson grew into a main character after season two in Highlander: The Series. Originally slated for a four episode story arc as Duncan MacLeod's Watcher, the character was expanded, becoming MacLeod's good friend and one of his most invaluable allies. He would redefine the Watchers as a whole and usher in a new age between his fellows and the Immortals.
Dawson's personal information is sketchy, but it is known he had a sister, Catherine, with whom he corresponded during his tour in Viet Nam, (An Evening at Joe's). It is thought she is now deceased. It was in 1967 that Joe enlisted in the Marines and did a tour of duty in Vietnam, serving under Andrew Cord, an Immortal. In 1968, after seeing Cord shot and apparently killed, Joe tripped a land mine, and was severely wounded. His life was saved by Cord, who carried him on his back miles to the nearest field hospital. There, he tried to tell the psychiatrist that it had been Cord who had saved him, but he was told that Cord was dead.
He would lose his legs as a result of his injuries. Despondent over the loss of his legs, he contemplated suicide, hiding a pistol under his pillow. Before he was able to decide, however, he was visited by a Watcher, Ian Bancroft, who told him about immortals, explaining that Cord had indeed saved him, and Cord was an immortal.
Joe found a new meaning to his life and became a Watcher, attributing his new lease on life to Andrew Cord. Bancroft would become Joe's mentor within the Watchers and a close friend. Joe began his Watcher career as an historian. He later became a field Watcher, observing Immortals like Roy Ferrer and Liza Grant, only being assigned to Duncan MacLeod in 1979.
Dawson was introduced in the episode, The Watchers, as a scholarly man working as a manager in a bookshop owned by his brother-in-law, James Horton in Seacouver. MacLeod was led there by a clue written by Darius on the fifth chronicle, an ancient book MacLeod found in Darius' rectory after his death. MacLeod has no idea about the Watchers as yet, but Dawson felt it prudent to explain the organization when it became apparent that MacLeod felt threatened by it, or rather the aberrant Hunters: "I can tell you the time and place you became Immortal. The name of your first love. But that's not important. What is important is that you care about mortals, and you don't kill for pleasure.” He told MacLeod he was not his enemy, and MacLeod wanted to know if that was what they told Darius as well, “The great general who became a monk? I hope the Immortal who killed him rots in hell.” Dawson was then stunned to learn that Darius was killed by mortals, as no Immortal would ever kill on holy ground. Dawson, however, was also sure, “We would have never hurt Darius. He was one of our great hopes.” But MacLeod insisted that one of the killers had the same tattoo Dawson had on his wrist.
MacLeod, still suspicious, followed Dawson to a family get together, where he met his brother-in-law, James Horton. Horton was unhappy that Joe had spoken to an immortal, “I had to. He thought we were trying to kill him.” MacLeod then crashed the party in pursuit of Dawson, and bumped into Horton. MacLeod was furious to realize Horton was the same man who tried to kill him and Fitzcairn in Paris. Both Joe and Horton's daughter, Lynn witnessed the tense confrontation between the two men. And when Lynn's fiancé was later killed, Horton blamed MacLeod, and almost Joe believed it. MacLeod accused Horton of Darius' murder. Torn between the man he'd come to admire and family, Dawson crashed the meeting Horton had set up with MacLeod. He confronted Horton, who then held a gun to Joe's head, thinking to kill him and blame it on MacLeod. When Lynn showed up, she distracted him enough so that MacLeod got the gun from him, both MacLeod and Horton are hurt, and when MacLeod revived, Joe and the Hortons were gone, as was any evidence they ever had a presence in the bookstore.
In the episodes, Turnabout, and The Zone Dawson reappeared and asked MacLeod for his help. In the first case to stop Immortal Quentin Barnes, and in the second to check if the crime boss of the Zone is an Immortal. MacLeod agreed because he believed Barnes was threatening his friend, Michael Moore. And in the second case, a watcher had been killed when trying to find out. Dawson warned him to be careful, "I would hate to lose another friend," to which MacLeod retorts, "Since when did we become friends?"
In Under Color of Authority, MacLeod finally asked Dawson for a favor, he wanted to know why an immortal bounty hunter was tracking a young woman Richie had taken under his wing. Joe agreed, and got MacLeod the information he wanted, telling him the girl was a bail jumper wanted for murder.
In the episode, Unholy Alliance, Dawson went out of his way to warn MacLeod about unusual occurrences, “In the last few days, two Immortals have been killed....These killings were set up by mortals. They were shot first, and then beheaded by an Immortal. They were working together.” When Dawson learned that the Immortal involved was Xavier St. Cloud, he decided to help MacLeod despite MacLeod's warning: “This is my business now, not yours.”
Dawson introduced MacLeod to Barton, Xavier's Watcher, ignorant of the fact that Barton was a renegade helping Xavier and James Horton hunt and behead Immortals. When he and Charlie DeSalvo were shot when they followed Barton's instructions, he accused Joe of being a co-conspirator. MacLeod then followed Dawson to a wharf where he met Horton. When MacLeod angrily asked why Dawson failed to tell him Horton survived, Dawson said, "Because I knew you'd kill him. I've known the man for twenty-five years, he's my sister's husband. I couldn't just let him die.” When MacLeod asks what Dawson would have done if he had known what Horton was really doing, Dawson could not answer. Angry, MacLeod told him, “Next time I see you will be the last.”
In Unholy Alliance Part Two, Dawson tried to regain MacLeod's trust by giving him the address of Xavier and Horton's hiding place, telling him, "Maybe we weren't friends, but we did trust one another once, based on nothing more than a feeling. I just hope you can trust me now." MacLeod found Xavier and Horton where Dawson told him they were, but they again escaped. Tracking the pair to Paris, Dawson found Horton as he was about to flee, a boat was waiting for him. Dawson pulled a gun on him, and told him he was finished. Horton again tried to play the family card, and Dawson said, “I'll light you a candle,” before he shot him. When MacLeod joined Dawson at the pier, he told him he'd have taken care of Horton, but Dawson responded, "No, MacLeod. We make mistakes, we clean them up ." MacLeod told Dawson he'd see him around.
In Counterfeit Part Two, Dawson met MacLeod and Richie to warn them that Horton might have resurfaced, “Someone in Paris is accessing our computers...we designed our system to be bulletproof...Horton and I. We designed it together.” Then, when MacLeod got involved with Lisa, a perfect double of Tessa, Richie turned to Dawson for help and Dawson agreed to investigate Lisa. As the two men spoke, Horton drove by and fired at Dawson, but Richie threw himself in front of Dawson and took three bullets to the chest for him. Dawson told Richie he was dying, and Richie said to wait, that he'd be right back. Upon his revival, Joe said seeing an Immortal revive, “...to actually witness it, it's extraordinary...” and told Richie he owed him one. The pair later followed MacLeod to a meeting with Horton, and fired on Horton as he tried to kill MacLeod. MacLeod stopped Dawson from killing the man and then stabbed Horton with his own switch blade. Dawson promised to take care of the body.
In The Cross of St. Antoine, Joe was visited by MacLeod who introduced him to Amanda. He was in a great mood as he was about to go and meet his girlfriend, “...an art historian. Her name is Lauren... it's funny -- you get to a point in your life where you feel that you missed the train, and then boom -- the lightning strikes.” But his happiness was short-lived, when he arrived at her house, he became a witness to her murder. When the police decided she must have surprised a burglar, Dawson told MacLeod that was “...a load of crap. He was wearing a 2,000 dollar suit.” And then asked if MacLeod would help his find the killer. Eventually, they tracked the killer, who turned out to be an Immortal MacLeod had unfinished business with. When Dawson asked why he killed Lauren, it was because she found things in his art collection he should not have had, and asked questions. Dawson broke out a pistol and MacLeod reminded him he could not kill an Immortal like that. Instead, MacLeod and Amanda stole a piece from Durgan's collection, and Durgan kidnapped Dawson in return and proposed a trade. In the end MacLeod and Amanda rescued Dawson and Durgan lost his head. This episode also served as the introduction of Dawson's musical talents, it closed with his emotional rendition of "Love is Just a Gamble." MacLeod told Amanda he didn't know Dawson could play, “I hardly know anything about him.” Amanda, listening, responded, “God, to sing like that, he must've had a hell of a life.”
A month later, MacLeod appeared in Joe's tavern demanding that whatever watcher who videotaped him during a challenge destroy the tape. Dawson told him, “...it was not my people! We don't use video cameras.” The pair staked out the visitor parking lot where the incident took place in hope that the man with the video camera would return. When, Robert Waverly, did return, Dawson confirmed that he was not a Watcher. MacLeod later told Dawson that Waverly tried to blackmail him into killing his wife, Barbara, and although he, of course, refused, he felt he had to go to her house and warn her. He retrieved the tape while there and she took a shot a him. Dawson told him, “It's an awful pain in the ass when your sense of honor gets in the way of your own best interests.” When Waverly wound up dead, Dawson offered to approach the widow in MacLeod's defense, and they arrived in time to save her from another Immortal's evil plans. (Blackmail)
Two weeks later, (They Also Serve) Dawson was visited by his Watcher mentor and friend, Ian Bancroft. His Immortal, May-Ling Shen was beheaded by the younger Michael Christian. Dawson, of course, knew of the connection between MacLeod and May-Ling, and went to inform him of her death, loaning him a Chronicle from the period he had known her. Dawson used Ian's visit as an excuse for an all Watcher poker game at the tavern. Ian, Maureen and Justin Russell, Mike Barrett, and Rita Luce all attend and gossip about their Immortals and argue about Watcher ethics. Ian then witnessed MacLeod come to the bar with the Chronicle and demanded to know how long Joe had been breaking the rules. Dawson replied, “You think I planned this? He found me. What was I supposed to do, drop a cyanide tablet to keep our secret?” When an Immortal discussed at the poker game was killed, followed by the death of Bancroft, Dawson realized Rita was behind it, and that she had told her Immortal when MacLeod would be vulnerable as well. He called Richie, and told him to get MacLeod's blade to him, and then stopped Rita from leaving the tavern, “Now we do what we're supposed to -- we wait.”
With the beginning of the Kalas cycle in Song of the Executioner a musician named Max Jupe, fired by Dawson, planted drugs behind the bar at the tavern and then tipped off police. Joe was arrested on suspicion of dealing, all of which was part of Kalas' plan to destroy MacLeod's friends before going after MacLeod. MacLeod forced a confession from the musician Kalas hired and got the charges dropped. When MacLeod traveled to Paris, Dawson stayed in touch, calling him to inform him the network had spotted Kalas in Paris, “I think the son-of-a-bitch is tracking you.” And then told MacLeod where he'd last been seen. MacLeod tracked Kalas to a Watcher front, a bookstore run by Watcher historian, Don Salzer and found him dying inside. He called Dawson with the news who reacted with worry, “Salzer, he's been working on the Methos chronicle. If Kalas was to find that, find Methos... If Kalas found him and took his head, he'd be even stronger. We've got a guy at the university there. Adam Pierson. He's been our top Methos scholar for about ten years. He knows as much about Methos as anybody. I'll let him know you're coming.” When MacLeod met Pierson, he realized the top Methos scholar was actually Methos.
After the ancient Immortal arranged for Kalas to be arrested for the murders of Salzer and his Watcher, Roger Harris, MacLeod called Dawson to tell him the news about Adam Pierson, and Joe responded; “What better way to steer clear of other Immortals. He's been right there, all along. I can't believe I missed it.” But he was too late to talk to the man, who had disappeared without a trace. (Methos)
A month later, Dawson traveled to Paris when Methos came out from cover to call him. Since Dawson had not revealed his secret to the other Watchers, Methos decided to trust him to help deal with Christine Salzer, the widow of Don Salzer. Christine threatened to go to the newspapers with what she knew about Watchers and Immortals. Methos sympathized with her, telling her she had a right to be angry, but Joe was horrified, “No. You'll destroy everyone. The good, not just the bad.” In an effort to bolster Dawson's argument, Methos revealed that he was Immortal, and she threw them both out. Dawson wondered what Methos could have been thinking, and Methos said he'd merely been improvising, “Sorry, Joe. I'm just a guy.” Dawson informed Methos he would follow Christine, and when she discovered the interactive Immortal/Watcher prototype that her husband and Methos had been working on, Dawson tried to get it from her, “Please give that to me, Christine, for everyone's sake.” When she went to make her appointment with the newspaper publisher, Dawson intercepted her and let her know he would stop her at any price, “Try to understand me. I can't let this happen.” When she turned her back and walked away, Dawson pulled a gun and fired, only to have MacLeod step in front of the bullet he'd meant for Christine. When MacLeod recovered, an incredulous Dawson asked why he had saved Christine. Methos informed him, “He didn't save her. He saved you.”
Dawson and Methos, then reported incident to the head of Watchers in western Europe, Jacques Vemas, things got heated and Dawson and Vemas exchanged blows. Methos got Joe out of headquarters and back to the hotel. In the end, MacLeod, of course, confronted Kalas, while Dawson, Methos, and Amanda waited for the outcome. When he returned to them alive, they toasted old friends and new together. (Finale)
In Homeland, MacLeod went home to Glenfinnan only to find Dawson there already, waiting for him. When asked how he knew MacLeod was headed there, he said, “I'm your Watcher. I'm supposed to know. Especially when you come home after two hundred and fifty years. Everything you do concerns me. What you are. What you were. You think I'm going to let you come home to Scotland without seeing what you're up to?” MacLeod told him he was looking for a grave, that he came to return a bracelet stolen from his first loves grave. Dawson wished him luck.
A week later, back in Seacouver, they witness an assassination attempt. While Dawson dealt with the victim, MacLeod chased the shooter. The victim turned out to be Dawson's platoon sergeant, Andrew Cord, from Viet Nam, a man he saw killed, but then rescued him after his legs were destroyed by a mine. When Cord revived, Dawson told him, “I know what you are. I know about Immortals. But don't worry. I know how to keep a secret.” Cord saw the truth of that, “You always were a boy scout, Joe.” When it turned out that another friend, Charlie DeSalvo was the one trying to kill Cord in revenge for the murder of his lover, Mara, MacLeod asked Dawson to arrange a meet with Cord. Dawson balked about being put in the middle, but did as asked when Mac promised I was just to talk. When the meet fell apart because of Charlie's arrival, Cord insisted Dawson set another meet, this time so he could issue a challenge. Dawson objected, and said Mac was his friend. Cord countered with the fact that Joe owed his life to him. Dawson agreed, “I owe you my life, not his.” (Brothers in Arms)
Two months later, business as usual at Joe's tavern included a new regular: Methos. The ancient immortal fell hard for a waitress working for Joe. Dawson tried to warn him off; “Forget it. Alexa's not your type, okay?” But Methos persisted while Dawson watched with concern. When Methos finally got her to agree to a date, Dawson informed him that Alexa was dying. Methos didn't care, and eventually got Alexa to agree to use the time she had to live and travel the world with him. Joe acknowledged, “Well, he's certainly the man to take you.” (Timeless)
In Something Wicked, Duncan and Richie were attacked by the immortal Coltec, and went to Joe for help understanding why he did it. Dawson told them that Coltec was seen fighting another Immortal,Harry Kant, and may have been under the influence of a Dark Quickening. MacLeod found and subdued Coltec and took him to holy ground outside the city, where he tried to draw the evil out of him, but failed. When the two next met MacLeod was forced to kill the man and was consumed by the dark quickening. MacLeod returned to Joe's to get drunk and pick up women. When he got slapped for his efforts, he knocked the woman to the floor and decked Joe when he interfered. Joe let MacLeod walk out, and then followed him back to the dojo where he shot MacLeod as he was about to behead a confused and frightened Richie. He then tied MacLeod to the exercise bars and waited for him to revive. Dawson took his sword and tried to reach whatever good was left of MacLeod, and told him of his strength, his goodness, but was mocked. Joe threatened to take Duncan's head himself, but could not and, trusting to instinct, let Duncan free. In desperation, Dawson called Methos for help in reaching, and hopefully, restoring MacLeod.
Some two months after MacLeod's restoration, Dawson got a call telling him the Highlander was dead. Heartbroken, Joe headed for Paris. Joe arrived at MacLeod's barge, still shaken, but ready to record his final report. He then spotted MacLeod jogging toward him. Stunned but delighted, Dawson called to him. But at that moment, a car swept up and Dawson was forced inside. Blindfolded, Dawson was led by his captors who refused to answer his questions, until he was led before a tribunal of Watchers.
They charged Joe with betraying his oath, consorting with an immortal, and falsifying chronicles. “If we decide that you are guilty, the penalty is death." Meanwhile, with Methos' help, MacLeod found out what was happening and where Dawson was being held. When he tried to break Joe out, however, he was caught, and the two are then held to face trail together. Methos, in his guise as Watcher researcher Adam Pierson, arrived to testify in favor of Watchers allowed to have Immortal friends, that too much was lost to history by denying them, but his heartfelt plea to “let friendship thrive” was brushed aside. The head of the tribunal, Jack Shapiro decided, that the only thing that was clear was that Joe "trashed his oath." The trial abruptly ended when Jack was informed that his son, a probationary Watcher, had been killed. As the two were led away, MacLeod overpowered the guards and tried to take Joe with him. Joe refused, saying he had to take responsibility for his actions. The next morning, Joe was led out to be executed. But before the Watchers acted, someone sprayed the entire contingent with gunfire. MacLeod returned to find Joe wounded but alive among the other Watcher dead. He smuggled Dawson to Methos who treated his wounds in the hidden cellar beneath Shakespeare and Co. book store. MacLeod finally realized that watchers were being killed by an Immortal, Jacob Galati. Rogue Watchers under Horton had murdered his wife, Irena, and he, ironically, had determined the whole organization was evil and had to be destroyed.
With Methos' reluctant help, Dawson infiltrated the Watcher stronghold and told them of Galati. He agreed to try and talk Galati in, telling Jacob he was MacLeod's only chance of proving that he wasn't the killer. Jacob agreed to go with him to save MacLeod, and as they left together, another Watcher approached and shot Jacob. Joe then realized that Jack was becoming more like Horton. Despite his protests, Jack then killed Jacob. Dawson put himself between the obsessed Jack and the furious MacLeod, pleading with Jack to stop the killings and to put aside his grief. But it took a direct threat from MacLeod to ensure that Jack stopped his vendetta. In the aftermath, the friendship between Methos, Dawson and MacLeod seemed irreparably damaged, MacLeod could not seem even to speak with Joe, Methos vanished without a word, and Dawson then returned to Seacouver alone. (Judgment Day & One Minute to Midnight)
When they finally returned to Seacouver several months afterward, (The End of Innocence) Dawson appeared at the dojo to talk to MacLeod about Richie. MacLeod managed bare civility, and evidenced unwillingness to even speak to Dawson. Dawson thought the topic important enough to persist, however, Joe told MacLeod that Richie came to him after the events in Something Wicked, confused and hurt. Now, Richie picked fights and took heads without much apparent regard as to whose. Dawson suggested MacLeod speak to his student, but he told Joe it was none of his business. Dawson got angry, told MacLeod where Richie was staying, and stormed out. Dawson tried again to approach MacLeod after Richie put himself in danger when he took the head of the immortal, Carter Wellan who for 800 years had been the squire of Haresh Clay who was then hunting Richie, who escaped him once, leaving his broken sword behind. “Do you still want me to stay out of it? I 'm just trying to help my friend.” MacLeod told him he wasn't a friend, he was a watcher, to keep his vow and not interfere. When Richie showed up at the tavern and asked Dawson for a loan to buy a new sword, Joe said he couldn't, that he couldn't get involved, that getting involved was a mistake, “As a friend I wish I could help you, as a Watcher I can't.” When he next saw MacLeod, he showed him the scar where his Watcher tattoo used to be, he'd made his choice. When Richie said he never thought the skulking secret organization was Joe's style, Dawson told him it wasn't supposed to be like that. MacLeod then asked if Dawson could get back in, and record the history of the Immortals as it should be, and they would work out their friendship. Joe accomplished this, but the method was never revealed.
In Glory Days, Joe an old girlfriend of Dawson's, Betsy Fields, who was his high school sweetheart, showed up in his tavern. Despite MacLeod's prompting, Joe was strangely reluctant to rekindle the old flame. Joe told MacLeod, he'd never gone back after Viet Nam, that she never knew he'd lost his legs. He finally faced up to his fear and spent one pleasant evening and one night of romance with her before she returned to her husband and family, leaving Joe to remember the glory days.
A few weeks later, MacLeod brought the Reverend Thomas Bell to Dawson when a young man the reverend had seen die, returned to him. Between them, Dawson and MacLeod explained the immortals and the Watchers to him. Eventually Dawson recruited him into the watchers, as the young man's Watcher.
Within days, a mysterious Immortal arrived in Seacouver, claiming to be Methos. He preached peace and an end to The Game. Richie bought into the message, but MacLeod pressed the real Methos to admit his identity to Richie, and backed by Dawson, “Well, I don't know about wisdom, but 5,000, that's about right,” Richie reluctantly believed, but still thought the message was right. Between them, Methos and Joe discovered that the Messenger, left a trail of dead Immortals behind them when they gave up their swords, and the next Immortal did not. ( Little Tin God & The Messenger)
In The Valkyrie, an old friend of MacLeod's showed up, but she had become an assassin, killing men she thought could be dangerous were they allowed to gain power as Hitler had done. When MacLeod discussed the matter with Methos and Dawson, Methos was unsympathetic, but Dawson said, “'What matters is that it's Mac's friend.” Methos acknowledged that Joe was pretty smart for a kid, but then intimated that a good way to stop her was to take her head, MacLeod walked out and Dawson observed, “You know, you really can be an arrogant pain in the ass sometimes.” A charge that Methos pled guilty to.
In the series' 100th episode, “Comes a Horseman” Cassandra returned, in pursuit of Kronos, the leader of the infamous Four Horsemen. MacLeod and Cassandra went to Dawson, in hopes that he had more information, but the Horsemen were regarded as nothing but legend, but he'd see what he could find. When she then discovered Methos in MacLeod's dojo, she angrily accused him of being a Horseman as well. Dawson was incredulous, “This is our Methos she's talking about, right? I mean, he is the one immortal I know that never looks for a fight.” When MacLeod later told him of Methos' confession, Joe refused to condemn the man, "Different times, MacLeod, different rules, different morals. You can't compare." Dawson then decided to search the Watcher database for names similar to Silas and Caspian, the remaining Horsemen, where no first death information was available. Using that method he located Evan Caspari, detained in a Romanian asylum for the criminally insane, and passed the information to MacLeod. (Revelation 6:8)
A month later, Joe arrived in Paris with a new music protégée, Mike Paladini. Mike, however, fell under the influence of the rock star, and former regency poet, the immortal, Byron. Dawson worried about the young man, saying he was in a tough spot. Methos suggested that he needed to experience life, to which Joe responded, “The good and the bad, huh? Hallelujah." Thanks to Byron's catastrophic drug habits, Mike died within days from an overdose.
In the season finale, “Archangel,” Dawson had James Horton’s body flown home. At the same time, Duncan began having visions of dead people from his past, mainly Horton. Richie sought the advice of Joe and Methos, theorizing the cycle of this demon was the reason for Immortals in the first place. Dawson countered, “Yeah, this has been going on for thousands of years and no one has ever heard of it. Not Watchers, not Immortals.” But Joe and Methos agreed to speak to MacLeod. While there, Richie seemed to see Joe as a prisoner of Horton and followed them after phoning MacLeod to tell him to meet him at the abandoned racetrack. Joe and Methos also followed, but arrived at the racetrack only to find MacLeod kneeling over Richie’s headless body, weeping. He offered his sword to Methos, but when Methos refused to kill him, the Highlander left, weaponless and bereft. Dawson, too, wept over the loss, all three men were deeply effected, and in the aftermath, both Methos and MacLeod disappeared without word, leaving Dawson to bury Richie alone.
A year had passed since Richie’s death and Dawson received a surprise when MacLeod returned to Paris. Dawson was still hurt and angry after being abandoned by his friends, especially when MacLeod again brought up the story. Joe finally believed him, however, when he was confronted by the evil entity in the form of Horton. Ahriman tried to get him to denounce MacLeod and in exchange, he would give him back his legs. Dawson rejected the temptation, but was upset that he almost gave in. He told MacLeod what happened, then gave him a Tibetan singing bowl which he hoped would help him defeat Ahriman. After MacLeod vanquished the demon, Dawson offered him the katana he had left behind a year before. Hesitant, MacLeod accepted it. (Avatar)
Several weeks later, Methos also returned to Paris and turned up in the back room at Joe's Le Blues Bar trying to access the Watcher Chronicle. Dawson was angry at the presumption after the man had been absent for over a year without word. “Where've you been? You are unbelievable.” The two argued until Methos finally called Dawson a hypocrite and Joe threw Methos out. They eventually found themselves teamed up, however, hunting the same immortal in order to rescue Joe's daughter, Amy, and repaired their friendship at the same time. (“Indiscretions”)
In the opening of series two part finale, “To Be” and “Not to Be” Methos and Dawson were hanging out after hours discussing mistakes in the Chronicle that Methos claimed to have witnessed. While Methos was matter of fact, Dawson remained a little skeptical. MacLeod then arrived to inform them an old enemy had kidnapped Amanda. With MacLeod and Methos off to find out about her, Dawson is then himself kidnapped by the same man, Liam O'Rourke. The pair were held as bait for MacLeod. O'Rourke wanted MacLeod to trade his head for their lives. Dawson was appalled, “For God's sake, MacLeod, you can't do this!” When Methos disrupted the plot, however, and O'Rourke was forced to face MacLeod one on one, he lost. MacLeod thanked all his friends for standing by him, and Dawson said, “I can't imagine my life without you, Mac. Fact is, I don't want to.”
In “Endgame,” Dawson was instrumental in getting the Sanctuary shut down, following the deaths of many Immortals that had been secluded there, when Jacob Kell invaded the place and killed them, except for Conner MacLeod. As Duncan sought to understand what had happened to Connor, lurking Watchers lead by Matthew Hale took that opportunity to kidnap him in an attempt to restock and restart Sanctuary. Duncan woke from a drugged stupor to see Joe Dawson who then proceeded to help him escape from his Sanctuary prison. Joe and MacLeod met Methos outside in a waiting car. Dawson was forced to kill Hale in self-defense. Afterwards, he made sure the Sanctuary was destroyed.
In later years, he has assisted MacLeod whenever he could. While in Paris in 2008, he helped him get information about Pieter Gatlin, when the latter made his return after 30 years known to Duncan. In 2009, he has assisted both Duncan and the newly resurrected Connor MacLeod to take down the Sons of the Kurgan cult, and the newly resurrected Kurgan.
According to the short, Highlander: Reunion, the canonical status for which is undetermined, Joe grudgingly retired from the Watchers just shy of 40 years of service. Dawson told his long-time friend, Methos, that a new, 28-year-old Watcher has been assigned to MacLeod. His replacement was a Phi Beta Kappa Princeton graduate, “...in one piece...and yes, it really sucks."
List of Appearances
- The Watchers
- The Zone
- Under Color of Authority
- Unholy Alliance
- Unholy Alliance: Part Two
- The Vampire
- Counterfeit: Part Two
- Line of Fire
- The Cross of St. Antoine
- The Lamb
- They Also Serve
- Blind Faith
- Song of the Executioner
- Take Back the Night
- Finale: Part One
- Finale: Part Two
- Leader of the Pack
- Brothers in Arms
- The Colonel
- Something Wicked
- Judgment Day
- One Minute to Midnight
- The End of Innocence
- Glory Days
- Little Tin God
- The Messenger
- The Valkyrie
- Comes a Horseman
- Revelation 6:8
- The Modern Prometheus
- To Be
- Not to Be
- Highlander #10 - Highlander #12
Like his character, actorJim Byrnes served one tour of duty with the American military in Vietnam.
Joe Dawson was originally going to be named Ian Dawson, and was conceived to be British, a rather stuffy historian with far less world experience than Joe.