Sam is the owner of Merlotte's a bar in Bon Temps, LA where Sookie Stackhouse works as a waitress.
Before Season 1
Growing up as an adopted child, Sam's life changed dramatically upon his entry into puberty. On the night of a full moon, to the horror of his adoptive parents, a teen-aged Sam revealed the nature of his true heritage by involuntarily shape-shifting into a copy of the family dog. He returned home from school the next day to an empty house (with the exception of his own room); in fear, his adopted family had abandoned him.
Sam drifted for the next few months, unsure of his new-found ability to shift, but using it to his advantage. Breaking into a rather well-appointed house, Sam discovered a mountain of food on the dining table, and strangely, drawers full of cash. Helping himself hungrily to both, he was soon surprised by the house's resident, Maryann Forester. She seduced the naive teenager to her bed, but the moment she herself began to display abilities of an otherworldly nature, Sam was terrified and, grabbing his bag of ill-gotten cash, fled into the night.
The specifics are unknown but it is during this time that Sam came into contact with werewolves. Though little is known about these encounters, it is implied that they were unpleasant and has left him with a resentment, even a hatred, toward them.
Sam eventually used his 'borrowed' cash to establish Merlotte's Bar and Grill in the small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. Local residents took up employment at the restaurant, including Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress, and Lafayette Reynolds, a chef. Sam soon developed a crush on Sookie, but said little about his crush until Bill Compton came into the picture.
While initially distrustful of vampires upon the revelation of their existence, Sam is open enough to buy a case of Tru Blood for the bar (which subsequently spoils due to lack of sales). This distrust is heightened when Bill Compton first walks into Merlotte's and catches the attentions of Sookie, spoiling Sam's attempted revelation of feelings for her. While Sam's attempts at doing so are continually foiled, usually by his own shyness, he maintains a protective and surreptitious watch on her in his dog form. It is during a late night drinking confessional, while lamenting the lack of physical intimacy in their lives, that Tara propositions Sam for sex. After an initial reluctance, due in part to Tara's employment status (Sam is her boss), but more so his lingering feelings for Sookie, Sam acquiesces and the two share a brief sexual encounter. This one night stand brings the two closer together.
Following the murder of Dawn Green, Sam increases his protective watch over Sookie. He finally gets his chance to express his feelings for her when it becomes apparent that Sookie and Bill's relationship is on the rocks, and he asks her out on a date. This ends badly however, when the discussion moves to vampires and the inherent dangers of dating one, to which Sookie takes affront.
When Sookie's grandmother Adele Stackhouse is murdered, Sam and Bill agree to put their differences aside to protect Sookie. While Sookie grieves, Sam and Tara's mutual loneliness rears its head, and the two again share a bed. Tara is preoccupied with her mother's issues however, and leaves Sam during the night.
When Sookie's mood at work the next day reveals that she and Bill shared a bed, Sam's fears for her. His concerns over vampires are fanned further when three vampires enter the bar and threaten the patrons, and he is powerless to stop them. It is only when Bill arrives and orders them out that an uneasy peace is restored. Sam begrudgingly respects Bill's actions.
To blow off steam, Sam goes for a 'doggy-run' through the woods, and after changing back into human form (sans clothing), is unknowingly spotted by Detective Andy Bellefleur. When the three vampires who threatened the bar patrons are subsequently destroyed in a house fire the next day, Sam is questioned by the police. He is forced to lie about his naked run, claiming that he came from a family of nudists and runs once a year to honor them. Andy of course investigates this claim, and when no evidence can be found to support it, or indeed any of Sam's family or personal history, Sam's position on the Bon Temps murderer suspect list goes up.
Sam again takes up the mantle of Sookie's protector when Bill is called away 'on business', and in dog form keeps a watchful eye upon her. His desires get the better of him however when Sookie invites her canine protector inside for the evening. His is forced to reveal his true nature to Sookie when he falls asleep on the foot of her bed and reverts to human form. Sookie is obviously terrified when she is woken by snoring, finding Sam naked at her feet, but Sam reassures her that he is indeed the border collie that has been following her around by changing shape before her.
While his continuing messages to Tara go unanswered, Sam assists Sookie in investigating the Bon Temps' murders. Sam is eventually crucial in discovering the true identity of the killer when he recognizes Dawn's scent on René Lenier's work vest. He races to Sookie's rescue and manages to distract Rene in the killing act long enough for Sookie to decapitate him with a shovel. He is then instrumental in saving Bill's life, rescuing the sun-damaged vampire by burying him in an open grave.
Sookie, heavily medicated on painkillers following her altercation with René, reveals her admiration and platonic love for Sam, and expresses her wish for him to not hide and show people his the beauty of his 'true self'. While Tara and Lafayette believe this to be a statement on Sam's caring nature, Sookie reveals Sam's ability to shapeshift, however Sam is able to deflect this by blaming it on Sookie's drug-addled state.
Sam's relief over Sookie's safety is short-lived, however, and his concerns turn towards his own safety when he discovers where Tara has been for the last few days; living with Maryann Forester, the source of his ill-gotten cash.
In season two Sam began to date Daphne
, a new waitress he had hired at Merlotte's. The two bonded quickly as she also was a shapeshifter and they had a lot in common, Daphne was the closest relationship Sam has had up until this point. However, Daphne quickly betrayed him when she revealed she was working for Maryann Forrester
, who was later revealed to be a Maenad
that wanted to use Sam as a sacrifice. Sam managed to escape from Mary Ann by shifting into a owl and flying away. Later the following day Sam found Daphne, held her at gunpoint, and asked her why she betrayed him. This is how he learned that Daphne was using him all along. In the finale, Sam, having shifted into a white bull, tricked Maryann into thinking he was the "god who comes." Convinced that the ritual had finally succeeded, she approached Sam and was willingly killed as he gored her in the heart with one of his horns. He then shifted back to a human, much to Maryann's surprise, and crushed her heart as she watched helplessly. At the end of the finale, Sam tracked down his foster parents and learned the location of his biological parents.
After learning the name and location of his birth parents, Sam makes a road trip to Magnolia, Arkansas. During his stay at a hotel in Magnolia, Sam begins to have erotic dreams of Bill Compton
as a side effect from absorbing massive amounts of his vampire blood. After waking from this dream, Sam learns that the Mickens no longer live at their previous address. However, he learns that their son Tommy Mickens
worked as a local mechanic. Even though Tommy made claims that he wasn't related to the Mickens, Sam followed him to his house. After sorting through the mailbox at the Mickens' residence, Sam learned that Tommy was indeed a Mickens and possibly his younger brother.
While trying to connect to Tommy, Sam joins him on a run. During their run, Tommy stops in the middle of the street and barks for Sam. Sam then runs out to the street after him. They both stop and stand there till a truck driving up is inches away from hitting them both. Tommy, in his Pit-Bull form, then quickly shifts into a hawk and flies away. Sam then jumps out of the way from the truck. Sam realizes Tommy tried to get Sam hit. Sam returns to his parents' house, not mentioning that Tommy tried to get him killed on the highway and explains that he`s heading back to Bon Temps.
Back at Merlotte's, Sam accepts Sookie's request for some free time to look for Bill and to also keep an eye out for Jessica. The Mickens surprise him by showing up at Merlotte`s, and, when he tries to cover his dismay by buying them all lunch, a free meal quickly turns into a monstrous bar tab. When Sam steps in to stop Tommy from drinking underage, a liquored-up Joe Lee gets in his face. Sam gently kicks them all out, but, later that night when his security alarm goes off, he finds a pit bull rifling through his office, until it shifts into a bird and flies out the window. Sam goes running after his brother and discovers that his parents are living in their van in the Tommy tried to steal from the safe. She says they are behind on the rent and have no place to go, but they will clear out when Tommy returns. Sam finds Tommy in the woods and tries to convince him to leave their parents. Tommy says he has no choice because their parents need him, and he won't be on his own until they're dead.
Sam tells his parents he will hook them up with a place to stay as long as there is no more stealing or drinking. When Arlene demands that Sam bring in more help, Sam hires Jessica as a hostess and Tommy as a bus boy. Feeling as though everyone is taking advantage of him and stressed, Sam is unable to cope with his anger. During this time we see a flashback to when Sam was a thief and murderer.
Sam also has another quick tryst with Tara. Finally snapping one night in Merlotte's, Sam beats up a werepanther--almost killing the beast. In the season finale, we see him finding his money stolen. He grabs a gun and chases down Tommy. Tommy explains that he needs help, but Sam won't listen...he raises his gun and fires.
Powers & Abilites
Sam is first shown as human and displayed no special abilities, however he was later revealed to be a shapeshifter, able to change into many animals, such as birds, dogs and even flies. Sam can not shift into a different human form, the reason given is that humans are too complex. A dog is his go-to shift, which means it is the easiest animal for him to become and he also shares some traits with a dog such as a keen sense of smell which he used to identify Rene as Dawn's killer.
Sam has also show the ability to communicate with animals, successfully ordering a dog in a dog fighting ring to leave.