Sam arrived in Emmerdale village in February 1995, following his release from a young offenders institute. Shortly afterwards, Sam pretended to be Robert Sugden's kidnapper to get some money after Robert ran away from home. Sam was often taken advantage of by Eric Pollard, who used him for cheap labour. Eventually, Kathy Brookman taught him to read so Eric would be less able to take advantage of him. Sam fell in love with her, one of his many unrequited loves.
Sam got involved in several dodgy schemes alongside his family. One of which was taking part in an armed robbery with his uncle Albert in 1998. However, they were caught by the police and jailed. Sam was released in 2000 and returned to the village for Butch's funeral. Sam still teamed up with Eric in the occasional money-making scheme.
In 2001, Sam learned that Cain was his half-brother. The relationship was fraught with tension, as Cain frequently bullied Sam. In 2004, Sam served a prison sentence for accidentally running over pensioner Edna Birch. Initially, Sam let Cain take the blame for the crime, leading Cain to kill his chickens and punch him in the stomach. Sam nearly fled to Ireland rather than face the law, but Edna convinced him to stay. He served time in prison with his distant relative, Solomon Dingle. Sam hero-worshipped him, but when Solomon berated the family after the rest of the Dingles faked niceties to get him to leave, Sam's eyes opened.
In 2005, Sam began a relationship with Alice Wilson and they left Emmerdale to start life on their own farm in Norfolk. They returned to Emmerdale soon afterwards, when Sam discovered she was pregnant. In early 2006, Alice gave birth to their son Samson via caesarean section so she could start cancer treatment. Belle accidentally named the baby she mistook "Sam's son" as his name and they later married on discovering her cancer was terminal. Eventually, she became so weak that she was unable to hold Samson. Sam obtained some morphine from Eli and gave Alice an overdose, ending her life. The police were involved as they questioned the nature of Alice's death after Louise Appleton's police boyfriend Martin, heard Ashley tell Diane that he thought Sam had helped Alice die. He opened a murder investigation and when the police came to arrest Sam, the Dingles barricaded themselves in the house. After eventually gaining entry and arresting Sam, Delilah Dingle said she did it so she was arrested too. Soon after, all the Dingles admitted killing her to protect Sam. Eventually, the police picked holes in their stories, but worried that Social Services would remove Samson if Sam confessed, Cain told Sam to describe Alice's death in as much detail as possible so the police would believe he was responsible. Cain then fled the village.
In late 2007, Sam moved into Dale View with Samson to show his independence. He struggled on his own, especially with the bills. Sam took in Daz Eden as a lodger, but Daz's girlfriend, Penny, left vodka lying around and Samson drank it. Panicking, Sam rushed him to hospital; Samson was fine, but Sam still faced a visit from Social Services. In early 2008, Sam was arrested for possession after Eli persuaded him to be his courier for good money. Sam was afraid he'd lose Samson when the police charged him and went on the run but soon turned himself in. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only incident that alarmed the Dingles and Social Services - while living at Dale View, Samson had been run over by Val Pollard. She hadn't seen him because she had cataracts in both eyes and needed an operation.
Sam worked at Butler's Farm, helping tend Jo Stiles's goats, but eventually, Andy sold the goats and, annoyed at Sam and Jo's friendship, fired him. Sam also got a job at Eric Pollard's factory shortly before Eric planned to sell the factory to the Kings. Eric let his employees believe he was simply going out of business. When he told Sam he wished the factory would go up in smoke, Sam took him literally and, along with Eli, set fire to the factory. While Andy was away, Sam spent more and more time helping Jo out at the farm for no pay. For the first time since Alice, he was falling in love. Lisa tried to warn him off, but Sam ignored her, hoping he might have a chance with Jo. A few days later, Jo invited Sam for dinner, which he misconstrued as a date. She told him how much she liked him but was shocked when he went to kiss her. Gently, she told him that she didn't feel that way about him and tried to comfort him with a hug but Andy saw them. Sam left but Andy confronted them and beat them both up, putting Jo in hospital again with broken ribs. Lisa, Zak, and Shadrach saw his bruises when they got back home and after treating his cuts, warned him to stay away from Jo and Andy's marriage. Zak also told Andy that while Sam was wrong to have approached Jo like that, Andy was wrong to have beaten him up. Andy was left in no doubt if he touched Sam again, he'd be fighting Zak. With Andy living in the Woolpack, the state of Jo and Andy's deteriorating marriage became common knowledge. He and Sam hadn't made up their differences but Sam warned Debbie Dingle (Sarah's mother) about what was happening at Butler's Farm. Debbie then kept a very close eye and proceeded to help Jo and Sarah.
Olena Petrovich, an illegal immigrant from Ukraine, hid in the Dingle's barn until she was discovered by Will Wylde and Belle Dingle. She convinced the children not to give her away and they looked after her, until she went missing. They later found her in the woods, in Seth's hide. She had hurt her leg and it was infected. They tried to help her, but were eventually found by Sam. Upon hearing Olena's story, he agreed to keep her whereabouts secret and tended to her wounded leg. Eventually, he convinced Zak and Lisa to take her in and Olena lived with the Dingles, helping out around the house. Sam then persuaded Eric Pollard to give her a job at the B&B. Although Pollard was apprehensive, he agreed because of his soft spot for Sam. Sam began to fall in love with Olena right away. By January, Zak asked Eli Dingle to spy on his son and Olena, in case she was a gold-digger. Eli reluctantly agreed but decided that Olena was genuine and convinced Zak to let Sam make his own choices. Zak then gave Sam his approval to make a go of it with Olena. However, as Sam's behaviour towards Olena became more intense, it became obvious that she did not reciprocate and was feeling increasingly uncomfortable around him.
When Shadrach half-destroyed the Dingle house by letting the bath overflow, Olena was obliged to move in with Marlon and Eli. Sam missed Olena and kept visiting her at work, but Olena was being more distant. Then, as Lisa, Sam and Olena were driving to pick up some building materials, they were pulled over by the police. Olena panicked, thinking they were after her and so Lisa covered for them as Sam and Olena fled into the woods. When the police noticed Sam and Olena running off, Lisa impulsively punched one of the officers and was arrested. Meanwhile, Olena and Eli began to develop a friendship and, seeing the two of them having a laugh together, Sam was instantly jealous. Olena confided in Eli that she although she was grateful for Sam helping her, she simply did not see him as anything more than a friend. Olena reluctantly moved back in with the Dingles, but she missed living with Eli and Sam began to snipe at his cousin, thinking he was taking Olena from him.
Zak became increasingly irritated by Olena's presence until she decided to move back in with Eli and Marlon. Sam was devastated, so when Olena told him that she was upset because she missed her son, he decided to propose to her. Olena turned him down, but seeing his upset, she qualified it by saying that she did not have the right papers and would just be deported. Thinking this was all that was keeping them apart, Sam asked Cain Dingle to obtain a dodgy passport for Olena. He then told Olena that he understood why she didn't want to marry him and that it would all be OK. Olena and Eli misread this as meaning that he had accepted that Olena did not return his feelings. Cain agreed to get the passport, but mentioned it to Zak, who was furious. However, Zak told Cain to get it anyway and then he went to find Olena. He told her about the passport and said that, once it came through, she was to leave town, without a word to Sam. He would not risk Sam's heart being broken. If she refused to leave, he would have her deported. Tearful, Olena went home and told Eli, who then confessed that he also loved Olena. She said she felt the same and they kissed and began to make plans to elope together once the passport arrived.
When Olena failed to attend Lisa's Welcome Home party, Sam went looking for her and saw her kissing Eli. He was devastated and reported Olena to Border Control, then watched as she was arrested and dragged away. When a drunken Eli began to accuse people of reporting her, a guilty Sam ended up confessing that it was him. Eli was furious at Sam and launched a glass at his head that narrowly missed. Sam broke down in tears, telling his father that he knew he was nothing but he'd thought, if he tried hard enough, Olena might take a chance on him. Zak comforted his son, but Sam felt guilty and decided to leave the village, taking Samson with him. Lisa finally persuaded him to stay, saying that he could not sleep rough with a toddler. However, Eli - angry at being blamed for Sam's actions - arrived and blasted Sam for ruining Olena's life, before revealing that Zak had already told Olena to leave, or he'd have her deported.
Sam was livid with his father for interfering in his life and refused to speak to him. He tried to apologise to Pollard for costing him a £7000 fine for hiring Olena. However, Pollard refused to forgive him this time. Sam was gutted to lose Pollard's friendship and Zak ended up convincing Pollard to forgive him and Pollard then advised Sam to forgive his father. Sam tried to make amends to Olena by paying £200 into a bank account for her before finding an unconscious Pollard at the B&B and phoning an ambulance. However, he didn't realise that Eli had robbed the B&B. Suspicions were raised over the missing money and Sam's earlier transaction and he was accused of stealing the money. Pollard tried to get Sam to tell him where the money really came from, but Sam was acting shiftily and lied. When Pollard uncovered his lies, he began to really believe Sam might be the thief. Then Eli confessed to the crime and apologised to Sam before going on the run and Sam admitted that he'd obtained the money through poaching from his employer, Natasha Wylde. Sam later discovers Mark Wylde's body in the woods, after his dog digs him up (Natasha had murdered her husband), and he calls the police.
More recently Sam became very close to Rachel Breckle, after initially quarrelling with her due to her niece bullying Samson. They eventually began dating after the birth of Rachel's son Archie Breckle. He had supported her throughout her pregnancy. They moved in together but he moved out with Samson when Ali, Ruby, Sean and Amelia moved in after Megan Macey evicted them. He decided to move back in, and eventually, he and Rachel got engaged, but Charity Dingle, who wanted revenge for Rachel sleeping with her husband Jai Sharma, blackmailed her into taking the blame for insurance fraud and made her flee the village with baby Archie.
Sam was devastated, especially when he later learned of Charity's involvement. He eventually began a relationship with Tracy Shankley but reunited with Rachel when she returned. Rachel, however, had changed in her year away, becoming harder and colder. She waged a bitter custody battle with Jai, and took her anger out of Sam, abusing him verbally and physically. When Ali learned what she was doing, she convinced Rachel to leave the village with her for treatment. Rachel asked Sam to join them, but he realised it was best to part ways with Rachel.
Megan, Jai's latest wife, had come to Rachel and Sam's aid in the custody battle, and Sam decided to support her when he figured out that she was pregnant with Jai's baby, something she did not want Jai to know. When Jai's brother Nikhil Sharma began supporting her as well, Sam, who was developing feelings for Megan, grew jealous. He blurted the truth out to Jai, and in a bid to stop him from preventing Megan from leaving town, locked him in a container. Jai freed himself and accidentally ran over Megan, endangering their unborn child. Some weeks later, Megan went into labour while walking in the woods with Sam. While trying to get help, Sam was accidentally shot by Zak's new girlfriend, Joanie Wright. Megan was eventually rushed to hospital. After the baby's birth, Sam kissed Megan, but she told him she could only see him as her friend.
"Not ever." - last line to Alice Dingle before she dies.
"You're not looking so clever yourself right now, are ya?" - To Joe Tate after he falls in a ditch.