Five Nights at Freddy’s began as a deceptively simple point-and-click indie horror game in 2014, but in the eight years since the original game was released, FNAF has exploded into a massive multimedia franchise. The FNAF series now spans dozens of games and books packed to the brim with fantasy, fun, and—above all—horror.
In the FNAF novel trilogy, series antagonist William Afton takes on the alias “Dave Miller” to get a job as the security guard of an abandoned mall built to seal away the old Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.
After five children were lured into the restaurant’s back room and killed by a man in one of the mascot costumes a decade before the events of the novel, the site itself fell to superstition, and local legends of the murders prevented any business from successfully opening there again.
Just like the lore of the games, however, William Afton was not only one of the co-founders and owners of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, but he was also the killer responsible for this heinous series of murders, which came to be known as the Missing Children’s Incident. As such, Afton’s “Dave Miller” persona was nothing more than a ruse to stay close to the site of his crimes—and to the souls of his victims trapped inside the animatronics.
While the story of the FNAF novel trilogy exists in a separate continuity from the lore and timeline of the games, both the novels and games are considered canon to the Five Nights at Freddy’s universe. It’s unclear exactly which aspects of lore the two continuities share, so we don’t know which elements of William Afton’s story are consistent between both timelines.
No matter what name he goes by or which timeline he’s in, however, it seems that William Afton will always be the FNAF franchise’s ultimate antagonist. After all, he told us himself—he always comes back.
Bottom Line Up Front
Dave Miller is William Afton’s alias in the FNAF novel Trilogy. After narrowly escaping conviction for the five brutal murders he committed in Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, Afton returned to the abandoned restaurant to work as a nighttime security guard under this unassuming pseudonym.
Thanks to the drastic changes in his demeanor and appearance since the murders, he got the job without being recognized.
Throughout the plot of the novels, however, it quickly becomes clear that “Dave’s” intentions have only become more villainous with time, and his “scientific” endeavors become more and more sinister. It’s unclear whether or not William Afton ever used the alias “Dave Miller” in the canon timeline of the games, but there are a few easter egg references that could suggest the possibility.
Appearance & Personality
Dave Miller is described as being tall and thin with sagging skin, an unshaven face, sunken eyes, and a grubby, ill-fitting security guard uniform. In the graphic novel adaptations, his depiction maintains the novel’s description, and he has brown hair, gray eyes, and a simple black-and-white uniform.
Dave also has scars all over his body from a previous incident involving a spring lock suit, the exact details of which are unknown. Two identical curved scars on the back of his neck can be seen poking out from under the collar of his shirt, but the rest are typically hidden beneath his uniform.
In photos of him taken around the time of the murders, he’s described as being more jovial and overweight, and the description of his eerie grin sounds very similar to the one depicted on his purple sprite in the FNAF minigames.
As the co-owner of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, William Afton is described as being a “financially-shrewd Santa Claus,” handling the business aspects of the restaurant with jolly charisma. His partner, the more reclusive Henry Emily, came up with the designs for their characters and animatronics.
However, after the Missing Children’s Incident, it became apparent that William Afton’s jealousy, cunning, and calculated cruelty knew no limitations. He commits atrocity after atrocity as he pursues his sadistic science, nearly destroying himself several times in the process.
William Afton cycles through a variety of identities and personas throughout the novel trilogy, including the “Bonnie” entertainer of Fredbear’s Family Diner, the security guard “Dave Miller,” and the haunted animatronic known as Springtrap. Afton’s personality and level of sanity seem to shift and change as he takes on each of these personas, making it difficult to predict his next move—and figure out the sinister motivations behind his actions.
WARNING: This section contains MAJOR spoilers about the FNAF novel trilogy’s plot and lore.
Henry Emily was William Afton’s business partner and co-founder of both Fredbear’s Family Diner and Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. While William handled their finances, Henry was the reclusive artist that designed their beloved mascot characters and engineered the animatronics and spring lock suits meant to depict them on stage.
Henry and William were also apparently very close, as Henry refers to William as his “old faithful partner.” Since Henry was a fellow scientist and engineer, it’s easy to see how someone as sinister as William Afton would become obsessed with him and his genius creations, always searching for a way to bend them to his own malicious will. As such, it’s likely that William manipulated Henry in order to gain access to his work.
After William kidnapped Henry’s daughter, Charlie Emily, in Fredbear’s Family Diner, Henry created four humanoid robots to replace her. They were given life through the grief, love, and anger he felt after her loss. Unfortunately, Henry’s tragic pursuit caused his wife to leave him and raise Charlie’s twin brother, Sammy, on her own.
The fourth Charlie bot, which was meant to be Charlie’s final form, was secretly stolen by William Afton and transformed into the Circus Baby animatronic.
Several years after Charlie’s kidnapping, Henry moved to the town of Hurricane, Utah, where he and William established the new Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. After the murders took place there, however, Henry was initially the prime suspect. Between him and William, Henry seemed the more likely of the two. William’s outwardly jovial nature deflected suspicion, and Henry had a distant, almost shell-shocked air about him after Charlie’s disappearance.
However, Hurricane’s police chief refused to close the case without further evidence, and eventually, the investigation revealed that William was the true culprit. Unfortunately, since the children’s bodies were never found, they were unable to sentence him, and he left town shortly afterwards.
At some point, Henry discovered what William had done to the final Charlie bot, though it’s unclear exactly when or how. In The Fourth Closet, the trilogy’s final book, it’s implied that Henry may have caused William to suffer the unexplained spring lock accident that gave him the scars described in the first novel.
The details of the accident are never revealed, but it’s possible that, once Henry discovered what had become of the last Charlie bot, Henry somehow lured William into one of the suits in an attempt to kill him.
Henry must have also recovered the Charlie bot from William and sealed her under their home in Hurricane before his death, which he mentions doing in his last letter to Charlie’s Aunt Jen. This letter also instructed Jen to leave all four Charlie bots sealed in their closets before he committed suicide in 1985.
However, Aunt Jen returned to the Emily house to recover the second and third Charlie bots after Henry’s death. She continued to raise Charlie as though she were a normal human girl despite Henry’s dying wishes.
As the protagonist of the FNAF novel trilogy, Charlie Emily is constantly at odds with Dave Miller. However, the truth of Charlie’s existence causes their lives to become inextricably intertwined, leaving Charlie with no choice but to chase Afton down no matter what new atrocities he commits—or what lengths she has to go to find him.
Charlie and her friends first encounter Dave Miller as they sneak into the abandoned Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. As the nighttime security guard of the mall built around the old pizzeria, Dave allows their group to trespass on the property two nights before confronting them during their third visit.
However, when Charlie suggests that Dave escort them through the pizzeria rather than kicking them out or calling the police, he agrees with little hesitation.
Once inside, however, Dave quickly sneaks away to retrieve the old yellow Bonnie costume he once wore back when the restaurant was still in operation. He kidnaps Charlie’s friend, Carlton, and seals the rest of the group out after they leave to get help.
When the group finally manages to get back inside Freddy Fazbear’s to rescue Carlton, Dave and the haunted animatronics terrorize them before Charlie and her friends are able to incapacitate and interrogate him. As they attempt to leave, however, Dave catches Charlie and threatens to kill her, but she reaches into his suit and trips the spring locks, killing him instead.
A year later, a bizarre series of deaths occur in Hurricane, and Charlie works with the town’s police chief to investigate them. She returns to the site of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza to check if Dave’s body is still in the spring lock suit—and, sure enough, she and her friend Jessica discover his corpse trapped beneath the stage.
After the situation continues to escalate, however, Charlie allows herself to be captured by one of the Twisted Animatronics responsible for the recent deaths. It brings her to an underground, nightmarish version of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza buried deep beneath Charlie’s old house, which is made even more monstrous by sound-illusion discs that alter Charlie’s perception of the environment and cause her to hallucinate.
Here, she and Dave—now referring to himself as “Springtrap”—face off once more, and he reveals that he kidnapped Charlie when she was a child, not her brother Sammy as she had previously believed.
Charlie attempts to murder Springtrap once again, but he manages to escape as the building begins to collapse, and Charlie is caught and seemingly killed by Funtime Freddy.
Circus Baby, or simply “Baby,” is an incredibly complex character, but she’s initially introduced as something of an animatronic assistant to William Afton in The Fourth Closet. Using sound-illusion discs that can alter human perception of animatronics, Baby impersonates Charlie Emily after Charlie’s apparent death at the end of the second book.
While Baby’s impression is extremely convincing, Charlie’s boyfriend, John, never believes that she’s the “real” Charlie. The town police chief has his suspicions about the new Circus Baby-themed pizzeria as well, and the two of them work together to investigate the situation.
Over the course of the final novel, it becomes clear that there really is something off about this new “Charlie.” She becomes increasingly menacing in her interactions with her friends, and she eventually reveals herself as an accomplice to William Afton. She aids him by kidnapping children for his experiments, acting as his lab assistant and nurse, and attacking anyone who may stand in their way.
However, not only is Baby the fourth Charlie bot that was stolen from Henry Emily and modified to suit William Afton’s murderous intent, but she is also possessed by the soul of William’s daughter, Elizabeth Afton.
Elizabeth Afton was William Afton’s daughter—though, like Circus Baby, she isn’t mentioned in the books until the final novel in the trilogy. According to Baby, Elizabeth was neglected and abused by William. He poured all of his attention and affection into the fourth Charlie bot rather than taking care of his own daughter.
After several failed attempts to finally earn her father’s love by making herself more like Baby, Elizabeth snuck into William’s lab one night and activated the animatronic “daughter” that he loved more than her. However, once Baby was activated, she scooped Elizabeth into the torso of her animatronic body and killed her.
Once inside, Elizabeth’s soul possessed the Baby animatronic, though Baby’s own consciousness remained as well, and the two of them became one in their shared animatronic body.
Despite the fact that Elizabeth was the exact type of immortal creation that William Afton had been relentlessly pursuing, she was still not enough in his eyes. He continued to abuse and neglect her once she returned to him in this new form.
In his never-ending, jealous quest to have everything Henry Emily had, William would never be satisfied until he had the third Charlie bot. This “special” Charlie, which had been Henry’s final creation of love, contained a piece of Henry’s soul, making it unique from the other Charlie animatronics—including Baby.
Regardless of the anger and pain Elizabeth felt as a result of William’s mistreatment of her, she continued to serve and adore him, violently defending him whenever Charlie and her friends expressed their hatred of him.
Though it’s never explicitly stated, the FNAF novel trilogy implies that Elizabeth Afton could be the real, human Charlie Emily, raised as William Afton’s daughter after he kidnapped her from Fredbear’s Family Diner in 1982.
The Missing Children
William Afton has a bizarre relationship with the victims of his murders, and they consider him to be both a friend and a foe at various points throughout the course of the trilogy. While the animatronics they possess are aggressive with adults and act violently towards William while he’s masquerading as Dave Miller, they seem to trust him again as soon as he puts on the yellow Bonnie costume.
After Dave was spring-locked by Charlie, however, the animatronics apparently kept his body stored away under the show stage, though it’s unclear if their intention was to protect or imprison him. When the town’s police chief says the name “William Afton” to the animatronics later on in the story, they begin to go haywire, lashing out in a violent panic at the mere mention of their killer.
In The Fourth Closet, the ghostly apparitions of the missing children that Carlton sees seem to only be able to perceive William Afton as Bonnie until Carlton helps to put all five of them “back together.” At this point, Afton’s many mechanical creatures turn on him almost immediately, finally getting their revenge for years of torture and cruelty before their souls are apparently released.
Dave Miller/William Afton also appears in the graphic novel adaptations of the FNAF novel trilogy. His depiction stays pretty consistent with his appearance and role in the novels, but I still recommend reading the graphic novels if you’re an Afton fan. Some of the best panels in these adaptations feature his most iconic scenes, so they’re definitely worth checking out.
As the FNAF series’ overarching antagonist, William Afton seems to be heavily referenced in the Fazbear Frights anthology series as well, such as the story of The Man In Room 1280 from Fazbear Frights #5: Bunny Call. However, as the Fazbear Frights stories have an unclear relationship to the canon of both the novels and games, these references to his character are largely left up to interpretation.
It’s unclear whether or not William Afton ever used the name “Dave Miller” in the continuity of the FNAF games. However, it’s implied that he was the dayshift security guard from FNAF 2 based on Phone Guy’s call, so it’s possible that he was using this alias during his shifts at that location to conceal his true identity as the company’s co-founder.
In FNAF Security Breach, one of the messages hidden throughout the Mega Pizzaplex simply reads: “You should fire Dave. He sucks.” Out of context, this message looks almost meaningless, but it’s possible that this is a reference to William Afton’s pseudonym in the novels. Still, it seems unlikely that William Afton was part of the Pizzaplex staff considering the events of the game’s “Burntrap” ending.
Question: Why does William Afton call himself Dave Miller in the FNAF novels?
Answer: William Afton takes on the alias “Dave Miller” in order to hide his identity as both the co-founder of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza and the serial murderer responsible for the Missing Children’s Incident. His appearance changed drastically enough between the time of the murders and the time he was hired as a security guard that he was able to avoid suspicion. After his true identity is revealed, however, he refuses to be referred to as “Dave” and expresses disdain for the persona when Charlie and her friends call him by that name.
Question: How did Dave Miller survive the spring lock suit?
Answer: In the first FNAF novel, it’s revealed that Dave Miller’s entire body is covered in scars from an old spring lock accident. While his description of dying inside a spring lock suit seems to be narrated from personal experience, the events that caused him to fall victim to this gruesome fate are unknown. It’s implied that Henry Emily may have been responsible, but the details of the accident are never revealed.
Unfortunately, it’s also unclear how William survived this first spring lock accident—as well as the second, which Charlie and her friends witnessed in the first novel. He appeared to be long dead inside the animatronic when Charlie discovered his body under the stage in the second novel, yet he still managed to return not once, but twice afterwards.
Despite the fact that his body progressively deteriorates over the course of the trilogy, William Afton manages to cheat death time and time again, perhaps becoming somewhat supernatural himself through his horrible creations.
Question: How many children does Dave Miller/William Afton have in the FNAF novel trilogy?
Answer: In the timeline of the FNAF games, William Afton has three children: Michael, Elizabeth, and a third child who is likely named Evan. However, Elizabeth is the only Afton child mentioned in the plot of the FNAF novel trilogy, so it’s unclear whether or not Michael and Evan exist in the timeline of the books. Since neither Afton son is ever mentioned—and since Charlie’s and Baby’s backstories are drastically different between the timelines of games and novels as well—it’s possible that Michael and Evan Afton do not exist within the continuity of the FNAF novels. As such, Elizabeth would be William’s only child in the novel timeline.
Dave Miller FNAF Guide: Conclusion
A franchise as massive as Five Nights at Freddy’s benefits from a big, abominable baddie whose villainy knows no limitations, and Wiliam “Dave Miller” Afton certainly fits the ticket in every continuity of FNAF canon.
Despite the differences in his story between the timelines of the games and novels, Dave Miller has been one of FNAF’s most iconic characters since his introduction to the series. The FNAF novels were the first installments to reveal his name, but the crimes of the infamous “Purple Guy” have been at the horrific heart of Five Nights at Freddy’s since the very beginning.