In an interview with the L.A. Times, The Walking Dead executive producer Glen Mazarra admitted that the writers were very conflicted about killing off Dale because they were worried that people would blame and hate Carl for it. Which is understandable, because technically his death would not have happened if Carl had just stayed in the house like everyone told him to do all season. We can definitely see how people would blame it on Carl.
"We had a debate...and everyone wants to know why Carl's not in the house. Well, it's boring to sit in a house. And he's a little boy and he wants to mix it up and stuff. And he's walking through the woods and finds a zombie trapped in the mud and he starts doing what any Huck Finn would do and starts throwing rocks at the monster. And then later that is the same zombie that pulls itself free and kills Dale," Mazarra said. "And the writers were very nervous about that, you know? It feels earned, but it's a risk. Because Dale is a beloved character and if this other character is involved and responsible for that death, is the audience going to now hate Carl? But I thought the story was worth the chance."
Carl: Just a modern-day Huck Finn living in your average post-apocalyptic, zombie-ridden world. How could we hate him, right?