Morgan Jones (The Walking Dead)
|The Walking Dead character|
Morgan Jones, as depicted in the comic book series. Art by Charlie Adlard.
|First appearance||Issue #1 (comics)
"Days Gone Bye" (TV series)
|Last appearance||Issue #83 (comics)|
|Created by||Robert Kirkman
|Portrayed by||Lennie James|
|Significant other(s)||Jenny (TV series)|
Morgan Jones is a fictional character from the comic book series The Walking Dead and is portrayed by Lennie James in the American television series of the same name. In both the comics and television series, he is a devoted father struggling to get over the recent death of his wife. He and his son seek refuge in Rick's hometown (in Cynthiana, Kentucky, in the comics, and in a small town in Georgia, King County, in the television series) after the outbreak occurs.
Comic book series
Morgan's son, Duane, spots Rick wandering around their house and, mistaking him for a walker, knocks him out with a shovel. Morgan quickly comes to the realization that Rick is a living human and aids him back to health. He details Rick of the outbreak and what has been happening within the world the past couple months. Rick later supplies him and his son with guns from the Sheriff's station to ensure their protection, and departs from them to Atlanta.
Morgan and Duane are later shown still remaining within their house several months afterward, during the winter. In an attempt to preserve old tradition and celebrate Christmas with Duane to lift his spirits, Morgan is able to find a Game Boy from a nearby store and give it to him as a present.
Sometime within the following weeks/months, Duane falls prey to the walkers and gets turned. Morgan, unable to cope with the death of his son, resorts to locking Duane in the house with chains. As his mental health deteriorates, he begins murdering survivors who stumble by so he can feed the boy. Rick, along with his son Carl and new second-in-command Abraham, arrive back to the town with the plan to bring Morgan into the group, which he gives in to. He quickly develops an intense fixation on Carl, who reminds him of Duane. Whilst in the group, he becomes one of the primary defenders of their campsite, and deepens his bond with Michonne, the two of them both connecting due to their damaged psyches and history of loss. At the same time, he attempts to deepen his bond with Carl after witnessing first-hand the boy's cold-blooded mentality. He believes himself to be responsible for maintaining Carl's childhood innocence and is determined to make amends for where he failed with protection of Duane.
Once arriving at the new walled-in community named the Alexandria Safe-Zone, he was assigned by the leader Douglas the role of being a chef. He and the rest of the survivors enjoyed the resources that the community offered, however he was one of the few who found himself frustrated with the fake upbeat attitude of their surroundings. After he and Michonne leave the welcome party hosted by the townspeople, the two finally engage in sex. He deeply regrets his actions the following morning, believing himself to be an adulterer and continuing to cling to the memory of his deceased wife. His burdening of ill-conceived principles and refusal to let go of the past angers Michonne, despite their growing attraction towards one another.
Morgan later apologizes for the hindrance in their relationship and reassures her that he is trying the best he can to get over all that has happened. She accepts and the two are able to reunite as lovers once more. Tension between the two of them develops again however, as Michonne becomes insulted by his egocentric demeanor when he justifies their sexual activities as him deserving to be happy. This leads her to temporarily end their relationship.
While helping fight off zombies with Michonne, Rick, and the others, he is caught off guard and bitten on the arm by a walker. Michonne chops his arm off, and from there he is left bedridden. He confesses to Carl his knowledge of the murder committed by him and pleads for him not to let darkness overcome his morality. Michonne later tries to make amends with him, only to discover that he has died from blood-loss. He is shortly thereafter put down by her before he has the chance to re-animate.
In the television series, Rick's hometown - where the Jones' settle - is located in a small Georgia town. In the series premiere "Days Gone Bye", Morgan examines Rick after his son Duane mistakes Rick for a walker and hits him with a shovel. Rick later wakes up tied to a bed, as Morgan checks Rick for zombie bites or fever, either of which could indicate he is turning into a walker. Morgan initially doubts Rick's status as a living being, going so far as to threaten to shoot him if he does not prove his humanity. After deciding Rick is not a threat, Morgan frees him and shares what information he has regarding the apocalypse and the walkers. The following day, Rick tells Morgan that his wife and son are missing and they are most likely alive, since the family photos have been taken from the house. Morgan and Duane tell Rick they may have set off to Atlanta, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up a quarantine zone. Rick takes Morgan and Duane to his former Sheriff's headquarters, where the trio use the emergency generator to power up the station. They take hot showers and clean out the armory. Rick heads to Atlanta, while Morgan and Duane stay behind. Rick gives Morgan a rifle and a walkie-talkie and promises to broadcast every morning at dawn. Morgan goes to the top floor of his house, where he looks through old family photos before shooting several zombies. As he hoped, the noise attracts more walkers, including his dead wife Jenny, but Morgan finds himself unable to shoot her and breaks down in tears.
In the episode "Clear", Morgan has set up various booby traps for walkers and human invaders. Having donned body armor, he has a shootout with Rick, Carl, and Michonne before being subdued by Carl, who shoots him in the stomach, bruising him through his Kevlar vest. Morgan has no recollection of who Rick is and stabs him in the shoulder during a scuffle. He remembers Rick when Rick shows him the walkie-talkies, and chastises him for not being in contact. Rick says he got pushed further out of range. Morgan lost his sanity after Duane's death at the hands of Jenny. Morgan blames himself for his son's death, as he was unable to kill Jenny. Rick invites Morgan to return to the prison but Morgan declines, instead choosing to remain in King County, continuing his self-imposed penance of clearing the area of walkers.
Though Morgan has not been seen since, it was confirmed in an interview with Lennie James, who portrays him, that he is still alive and will reappear in a future season.
Development and reception
Lennie James played Morgan in the series premiere "Days Gone Bye". Mike Ryan of Vanity Fair described Morgan in his review of the episode as "scared shitless of zombies breaking in, which seems like a reasonable reaction". Liz Kelly and Jen Chaney of The Washington Post commented on Morgan and Duane, "whose loss of the mother figure in their family reminded us a little of "Lost's" Michael and Walt". Josh Jackson of Paste described Morgan and Duane as being "tormented by Morgan's wife walking the streets outside the suburban home where they're squatting. Unable to put her out of her misery or move on without her, they're frozen in place, tormented by loss that hasn't really gone away. It's the most nightmarish of scenarios – hunted by the shell of a loved one – the zombies aren't generic; this one is personal." Jackson also stated that Rick is "shell-shocked by the world he wakes up to and Morgan serves as his shepherd into reality". Leonard Pierce of The A.V. Club described Morgan as "beautifully played by the always welcome Lennie James" and adding that he "adds a moment of poignancy, as he finds himself actually apologizing for having not killed his now-reanimated wife". Pierce describes the scene in which Morgan "tries to gather the—strength? resolve? compassion?—to destroy what used to be his wife" as a "wrenching" scene. Kris King of Starpulse noted that Morgan "has a powerful scene involving the fate of his wife and his grizzly attempt to come to terms with his loss". Writing for The Atlantic, Scott Meslow describes what he considers "the episode's most devastating scene", in which "Morgan aims at [his wife's] head through a rifle from a window, almost pulling the trigger several times before collapsing in tears. Morgan's fate is a dark reflection of Rick's worst fears; with his wife and son missing, and with no way to contact them, Rick never knows if he'll turn a corner and find a grotesque perversion of the wife and son he loves."
It was confirmed on November 19th, 2012, that Morgan would be returning in Season 3. In an interview with Inside TV, Robert Kirkman defines the title of the episode "Clear", and how it relates to Morgan: "It means a lot of things. To a certain extent it's the ravings of a lunatic but it's also about him trying to clear out his life and clear out any entanglements around him. He's living by himself so he's trying to have a clear head. It's basically about him getting rid of his wife and getting rid of his son and the only way for him to survive is to clear the area around him." Kirkman also felt that Lennie James was "really playing a completely different character and doing completely different things in this episode and is just as amazing doing it. So it was a lot of fun having him back and also having him do things that were so different from what he had done before." In his recap of the episode for the Los Angeles Times, Todd VanDerWerff called Lennie James a "brilliant actor", and felt that "his role is significant enough that he essentially becomes the main supporting player in the piece". Eric Kain of Forbes called the performance of Lennie James "absolutely riveting", noting that Morgan "is a changed man, and not for the better"; Kain called Morgan's refusal of Rick's offer to return to the prison with him "a glorious scene". Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club describes Morgan's situation: "Morgan's crime is that he couldn't let go of the past; he couldn't shoot his dead wife, and so his dead wife eventually killed his son. So now he has nothing to live for, but he doesn't have the strength of will left to take his own life. Which leaves him trapped. He can't join up with Rick's group, no matter how much Rick wants him to, because that would mean connecting with people again, becoming vulnerable, risking himself and having to suffer when his new friends die. And he can't commit suicide, because that would require a different kind of courage. So he's stuck building his traps, covering the walls with his writing, sending messages to strangers he'll never see."
- The Walking Dead #1 (2003)
- The Walking Dead #34 (January 2007)
- The Walking Dead #58 (February 2009)
- The Walking Dead #59 (March 2009)
- The Walking Dead #64 (August 2009)
- The Walking Dead #61 (May 2009)
- The Walking Dead #72 (May 2010)
- The Walking Dead #73 (June 2010)
- The Walking Dead #81 (February 2011)
- The Walking Dead #82 (March 2011)
- The Walking Dead #83 (April 2011)
- "Lennie James: Credits". TV Guide. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
- Ryan, Mike (November 1, 2010). "The Walking Dead Premiere: It’s More than Just Zombies!". Vanity Fair. Condé Nast Publications. Retrieved January 16, 2012.
- Chaney, Kelly, Jen, Liz (November 1, 2010). "AMC's 'Walking Dead': Have we found our next 'Lost'?". The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- Jackson, Josh (October 31, 2010). "The Walking Dead Review". Paste. Wolfgang's Vault. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- Pierce, Leonard (November 1, 2010). "Days Gone Bye". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
- King, Kris (October 22, 2010). "31 Days Of Horror: 'The Walking Dead' (2010)". Starpulse.com. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- Meslow, Scott (October 31, 2010). "'The Walking Dead' Premiere: Can Zombies Live on Television?". The Atlantic. Jay Leuf. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
- Jon Lachonis The Walking Dead Spoilers - Who Returns, and Who Arrives TVOvermind (November 19, 2012)
- Clark Collis (March 3, 2013). "Inside TV: 'Walking Dead' exec producer Robert Kirkman talks about tonight's show and the long-awaited return of Morgan". EW.com.
- VanDerWerff, Todd (March 4, 2013). "'The Walking Dead' recap: Going home". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
- Kain, Eric (March 4, 2013). "'The Walking Dead' Season 3 Episode 12 Review: 'Clear' Brings Out The Best In AMC's Zombie Drama". Forbes. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
- Handlen, Zack (March 3, 2013). "Clear". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
- 'The Walking Dead': Robert Kirkman previews rest of season 3; says 'there may be a casualty or more' Entertainment Weekly "We definitely didn’t kill him, so he’s still alive and still out there." (March 7, 2013)