Clementine (The Walking Dead)
|The Walking Dead character|
Clementine, as depicted in The Walking Dead
|First game||The Walking Dead|
|Voiced by||Melissa Hutchison|
Clementine is a character introduced as one of the main non-playable characters in Telltale Games' The Walking Dead episodic adventure video game, a spin-off of the Robert Kirkman comic of the same name. She is voiced by Melissa Hutchison and was written by several people, including Gary Whitta. The second season of the game features Clementine as the lead character.
Clementine is a young 8-year-old girl living with her parents in an Atlanta suburb. While her parents were away, she was forced to join a group of survivors in an effort to find safety in midst of a zombie apocalypse. Through the plot, Clementine develops a strong bond with the player-protagonist Lee Everett, a former fugitive who becomes her new guardian. Being one of the first elements created for the game, Clementine was designed to act as a moral compass for the player in addition to an influence on the player's decisions, to which the player would have to reflect upon.
Clementine was considered an emotional centerpiece of the The Walking Dead game, and several journalists expressed caring for her fate in a way that few other games have been able to capture.
Concept and creation
Clementine appeared in the 2012 episode video game The Walking Dead as a main character. According to the game's creative lead Sean Vanaman, Clementine was "literally the first idea" for developing the game, with her emotional climax at the finale of the fifth episode being established before any of the game's other dialog was written. The development team had considered the including of a child in a dark storyline was similar to previous story elements from Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead comic, but still had a difficult time of selling the concept originally. They then set to use Clementine as the "moral compass" for the main player character, establishing her as a "smart, honest, and capable girl" that would reflect on choices made by the player. Telltale had considered other backgrounds for Clementine, such as being from a single-parent family, or being the younger sister of the player character, but found that the pre-established emotional bond between the characters did not fit well, and instead opted to make Lee Everett her father-figure. This led to changing Clementine's race from white to African-American, as to give her the appearance of possibly being Lee's daughter to other characters.
Clementine's design was based on art director Derek Sakai's own daughter. Sakai described her as having "a crazy sense of fashion", selecting beloved clothing items to wear regularly. As such, Clementine was given an iconic baseball hat that serves as her connection to her parents. Sakai provided Vanaman with other advice from his fatherhood, offering that Clementine would appear smarter if she did not say as much, while still pointing out character flaws should one get out of line. Much of the game focuses on changes to Clementine's appearances and personality as she comes to grips with the new reality of the zombie-infested world. At the start of the game, Clementine is wearing a clean white dress, but it becomes dirty and soiled throughout the game, "reflecting her loss of innocence", according to Sakai.
Melissa Hutchison, a voice actress that had previously worked on other Telltale games, was selected to be the voice for Clementine. Prior auditions were held, but Vanaman found that children could not grasp the emotion of the role while adults were not able to get the voice as they intended for the character; at one point, for lack of a suitable actress, Vanaman felt that "we were going to have to take Clementine out of the game". Hutchison was able to relate to the character of Clementine, as her life mirrored that of the character, and easily fell into the role of the character during auditions, securing her as the voice for Clementine.
The bond between Clementine and Lee was considered instrumental to the game by Telltale. Gary Whitta described Lee's and Clementine's relationship as "emotionally authentic". To build this relation, Clementine was introduced as early as possible within the first episode; the specific scene of Lee having to deal with Clementine's zombified babysitter was specifically to highlight Clementine's likability, resourcefulness, and vulnerability. The writers carefully had to balance elements in this scene, as if, for example, Clementine appeared to be annoying to the player, the emotional bond would be absent and the player would likely make choices without caring about Clementine's fate. Writer Jake Rodkin stated that the difficulties of writing a child character that the player wouldn't want to abandon led to serious discussion about dropping Clementine late in the development process, a week before voice recording was to start. The game designer and writer Harrison G. Pink commented that the in-game decisions were not meant to be good because there couldn't be an optimal play-through. Clementine made those decisions even more difficult, since her presence forces the player to consider protecting her on another level. "It gets way more blurred when you involve Clementine," Pink said. "You have these decisions that are probably the right decisions for the group--she's watching, but then maybe she needs to understand this, but I might scare her because she'll think I'm a crazy person. There's no wrong choice, if you can justify it and it feels properly motivated to you, it's a valid choice."
With the game's Season Two, Clementine becomes the main playable character, a choice that allowed them to continue the themes of the first season while introducing new characters and situations for the second. Telltale was first challenged to try to make Clementine feel like the character that the player, through making decisions as Lee, had groomed. One method this was resolved by was to create the first scenario of the game to put the player in control of Clementine's actions that have disastrous results (the death of one character and being separated from another) as to make the player felt as if they had made those choices and separating them from familiar characters. Further, they had to consider how to present Clementine as a character that could make substantial changes on the world and characters around her despite being a child.
The Walking Dead video game
Clementine is introduced in a post-apocalyptic world of zombies when the player-protagonist Lee Everett takes shelter in her suburban home in Georgia. She is revealed to be hiding from the zombies as her parents had left for Savannah some time before the spread of 'plague'. Recognizing that Clementine would remain in danger, Lee offers to take and protect her, hoping that they will be able to find her parents. The two characters eventually meet Kenny, his wife Katjaa and son Duck at a farm. They all head for Macon where they join another group of survivors. After having holed up in a motel for three months with dwindling supplies, the group is forced to flee due to the motel being overrun by bandits and walkers they go into the rv Kenny got working and eventually started heading to Savannah via a train. En route, Lee starts to help Clementine learn survival skills such as how to use a gun. As they near the city, Clementine's walkie-talkie goes off, revealing a man that knows of Lee's actions to this point and promises Clementine that she will be safe once he deals with Lee.
In Savannah, the survivors look for a boat and supplies to flee the mainland. They encounter another group of survivors led by Vernon, a doctor. With Vernon's help, they are able to prepare the boat for their journey; before Vernon leaves them, he warns Lee that he does not think he is a fit person to be Clementine's guardian, and offers to take the child, but Lee refuses. The next morning, Lee wakes to find Clementine gone, and while searching nearby, is bitten by a zombie. With what little time he has with his intelligence, Lee and the other survivors agree to look for Clementine. The man on the walkie-talkie reveals he has taken Clementine, and tells her she will be safe at the hotel that her parents would have been at. While making their way to the hotel, Lee is separated from the others and promises to meet them at the outskirts of town with Clementine. Barely hanging onto consciousness, Lee makes it to the hotel, and finds the man; the man explains that Lee's group had previously taken provisions from his family's car, and ultimately leading to the death of his wife and children, and goes to question Lee's other decisions. When the man is shown as insane, talking to his wife's severed head in a bag, Lee gets Clementine's help to subdue the man. They make it out of the hotel where they see Clementine's parents as zombies before Lee passes out.
When Lee wakes, he is out of strength and barely able to keep conscious, but finds Clementine has dragged him to safety. With his time short, Lee helps Clementine secure keys and a gun to escape to the rooftops, and instructs her to find the other survivors. The player has the option of having Lee ask Clementine to shoot and kill him before he turns, or to flee before his conversion. Clementine is then seen in the country, watching two figures approach from the distance.
The Walking Dead: Season Two
Prior to Season Two's formal announcement, Telltale affirmed that Clementine will "definitely be a part of" the second season of The Walking Dead. The full announcement of the game revealed that Clementine will be the player-character in this series.
In Season Two, Clementine has been able to regroup with Omid and Christa. An encounter with a scavenger leaves Omid dead due to Clementine's carelessness, and Christa blames Clementine for his death. Sixteen months later, the two are attacked by more scavengers, and Clementine is separated from Christa. After traveling a distance, she comes upon a farmhouse occupied by a group of survivors who distrust her until she proves her survival skills to them. The group, particularly Alvin and Rebecca, fear a man named Carver and soon move on, heading towards a ski lodge. There, they find a second group that includes Kenny, who Clementine is overjoyed to learn narrowly escaped from Savannah. The two groups do not fully trust the other, keeping tensions tight. When a walker horde attacks the lodge, the group is saved by more survivors but discover that this group is led by Carver. After a bloody standoff, Carver's group secures Clementine and the rest of the two groups and takes them to his camp, a well-fortified hardware store/strip mall.
Clementine's group is put to work to maintain the building's security. She befriends Bonnie who is unsure of Carver's motives, and learns that Carver believes that Rebecca's child is his. Luke, who managed to escape from the ski lodge attack, helps Clementine plan their escape before a larger walker horde arrives. The group is caught, and Carver beats up Kenny violently, including destroying one of his eyes, and is responsible for Alvin's death. The group, including Bonnie, Mike, and Jane, makes a second attempt at escape as the walker horde arrives, and as the others prepare to sneak through the hoard, Kenny and Rebecca stay back to kill Carver. The attempt to sneak through the hoard goes sour fast, and Clementine is unable to save Sarah's father Carlos as he is bit, and is forced to kill Sarita, a woman Kenny has fallen in love with, to prevent her from turning. They regroup at a nearby fort, where Kenny blames Clementine for his loss. As they prepare a tourist center for Rebecca who is nearing birth, Clementine finds herself forced to abandon Sarah after she has gone catatonic from witnessing her father getting killed based on Jane's advice. Rebecca gives birth to a boy, which Kenny later names Alvin Jr. (AJ for short).
The group leaves the fort the next day as winter sets in. They encounter a Russian group that threaten them with guns, and Clementine finds that Rebecca has lost too much blood from childbirth and has died and is turning into a walker. She rescues AJ from her, and the group deals with the Russians, forcing a young Russian boy Arvo to lead them to shelter. He takes them to a partially constructed house across a frozen lake, and as they cross, Clementine is unable to save Luke when he and walkers break through the ice. Kenny beats up Arvo and blames Luke's loss on him. Jane secretly tells Clementine that she worries for Kenny and believes he will do something disastrous soon. After finding a truck and bringing it to working order, the group prepares to leave the next day. Clementine wakes up to find Bonnie, Mike, and Arvo trying to take the truck, all of them fearful of what Kenny has become, and in the argument, Arvo shoots Clementine. She blacks out and has a brief flashback to back when she was with Lee, Kenny and his family, and the others after fleeing the motel.
When she comes to, she finds that she is with Kenny, Jane, and AJ as they head north in the truck, the others having fled on foot. When stopped near a rest stop due to cars blocking the road, Kenny gets out to look for gas, and Jane tries to convince Clementine they should abandon Kenny. A walker horde separates them, with Jane carrying AJ. Kenny and Clementine regroup at the rest stop, and Jane soon arrives without AJ. Kenny fights her with intent to kill, claiming she left AJ to die. The player is forced to have Clementine to shoot Kenny to save Jane or let Kenny kill her. In either case, Clementine finds AJ in a nearby car, safe and sound, all a ruse by Jane to show Clementine the dangers of keeping Kenny around. The player can have Clementine go with the survivor (if Kenny, to Wellington; if Jane, back to Carver's hardware store), or head out on her own with AJ.
Many journalists consider Clementine to be an emotional centerpoint of The Walking Dead game, an accomplishment that few other video game characters have made. Game Informer 's Kimberley Wallace describes the character of Clementine as having "broken through the barrier [of the television screen], securing a place in the hearts of many". IGN's Colin Campbell said in his article that Clementine is designed to elicit "super-protective instincts" in the player. "Without Clementine, Lee is just some dude trying to stay alive, but she (a slightly over-cooked innocent) allows him to be sympathetic to us." commented Campbell. N.D. Mackay, writing in The Herald, described the relationship with Clementine as "the heart-breaking bedrock of the game." Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton writes that Clementine is a well-done, real-feeling character in the game. "...[she] is pretty great. She's cute and funny, smarter than she lets on, yet she still acts like a kid. She's one of the most realistically drawn kids I've encountered in a video game in some time." says Hamilton. GamesRadar's Hollander Cooper and Sterling McGarvey wrote that the hopelessness of the world would be infectious if not for her constant optimism, giving you something to fight for. "She’s slow to adapt to the fact that good and evil are now meaningless, and her innocence keeps the concept of hope alive in the survivors..." they stated. The Sunday Herald states that "Clementine is the real emotional heart of this game".
During the game's episodic release, players frequently used the Twitter hashtag "#forclementine" to reflect how much the character had influenced them. Vanaman was surprised but pleased with this response, stating that "the fact that people care about Clementine is invaluable".
Melissa Hutchinson as Clementine was nominated for and won the award for "Best Performance By a Human Female" at the 2012 Spike TV Video Game Awards. Hutchinson's performance has also been nominated in the "Performance" category for the 2013 British Academy Video Games Awards.
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