The Governor (The Walking Dead)
|The Walking Dead character|
The Governor, as depicted in the comic book series.
|First appearance||Issue #27 (comics)
"Walk with Me" (TV series)
|Last appearance||Issue #48 (comics)
Issue #72 (Flashback) (comics)
Issue #75 (Bonus Ending) (comics)
"Too Far Gone" (Alive) (TV series)
"After" (Corpse) (TV series)
|Created by||Robert Kirkman
|Portrayed by||David Morrissey|
|Occupation||Governor of Woodbury, Georgia|
|Significant other(s)||Unnamed wife (TV series)
Andrea (TV series)
Lilly Chambler (TV series)
The Governor is a fictional character from the comic book series The Walking Dead, and is portrayed by David Morrissey in the television series of the same name. Created by Robert Kirkman and artists Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn, the character made his debut in The Walking Dead #27 in April 2006. A primary antagonist of both series, The Governor is the seemingly charismatic leader of Woodbury, Georgia, who is revealed to be a brutal, insane leader that comes into conflict with protagonist Rick Grimes. The Governor is responsible for several deaths of primary characters of both forms of media. The character's origins is explored in the novel The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor, which was written by Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga.
In the television series, the Governor first appears in the show's third season. As with his comic adaptation, he is the leader of Woodbury; however, his disturbing motives are reflected in his authoritarian ways in dealing with threats to his community. His dark nature escalates when he comes into conflict with Rick Grimes and his group, who he vows to eliminate. In the series' fourth season, he becomes alarmed by his cold ways and attempts to redeem himself upon meeting a new family, although he reverts back to his old persona to ensure the family's survival.
In 2009, The Governor was ranked as IGN's 86th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time, and was ranked #28 on TV Guide's list of The 60 Nastiest Villains of All Time. For his performance as The Governor, Morrissey was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 39th Saturn Awards.
Fictional character biography
Aside from simply "The Governor," the character's name appeared to be Philip Blake; however, with the release of the novel The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor, it was revealed that his actual name was Brian Blake. Philip was revealed to be his deceased brother.
When the dead began to rise, Brian and Philip gathered a small group, which included his niece Penny, and were constantly on the run because of unsecured locations; the planned community called the Wiltshire Estates, where Rick's group coincidentally stayed, was one of these. Eventually, Brian's group came upon Woodbury, Georgia, a ravaged town being led by National Guardsmen who used fear to assert their authority. After becoming the last of his group, Brian rallied the townspeople against the Guardsmen and afterward declared himself "Governor" of the four blocks making up the settlement. Initially appearing a fair and strong leader, he became consumed with his sense of power and control, while at the same time becoming increasingly deranged because of his surroundings. He kept the zombified Penny tied up in his apartment, feeding her severed body parts of those who displeased him.
Comic book series
Following Woodbury's capture and murder of stranded refugees from Atlanta, the Governor is met by Rick Grimes and his band of survivors when they explore the town. After initially acting hospitable, the Governor turns on the group. Attempting to find the location of Rick's prison refuge in order to collect supplies for Woodbury, he proceeds to cut off Rick's hand, mentally tortures Glenn, and has Michonne restrained, stripped and repeatedly raped. To learn the location of the prison, the Governor allows the survivors to escape the premises with the help of one of his guards. However, Michonne stays behind and finds her way to his apartment, where she brutally tortures him. He loses his right arm, his fingernails, his testicles, and his left eye. When Michonne rejoins the group and they ask her if the Governor still lives, Michonne is uncertain.
The Governor survives with the help of Bob Stookey (a citizen who had medical experience), and eventually is able to find the prison thanks to search parties. The Governor uses the murder of a guard by Rick to rally the townspeople against the prison's inhabitants. Things do not go according to plan, as Rick's group puts up a tenacious defense that leads to a humiliating retreat. After a failed later attempt to gain his way into the prison by use of a hostage, the Governor crushes the fences with a tank. A bloody massacre ensues, leading to an incredibly high death toll and ultimately making the prison less secure and less habitable.
Tensions steadily rise within the Governor's group, as the ammunition they have remaining is limited and a handful of their own moral consciences come into play, especially when killing defenseless or young members of the opposing group. Both factors result in the remnants of his army turning on him, killing him, throwing his corpse to the zombies, and making a last-ditch attempt to fortify the prison. Whether or not they succeeded at the latter is unknown.
The Governor first appears in the third episode of season three, having kidnapped Andrea and Michonne from the woods after discovering them near a downed military helicopter. He murders the surviving soldier, Lt. Welles, after Welles tells him where the rest of his squad is. When The Governor arrives at the squad's encampment, he and his men shoot them all to death and take their supplies. While concealing all of this from Andrea, he and Andrea begin a sexual relationship. The television series Governor superficially appears to be much different from the comic’s version, but actually bears many similarities. Woodbury, under his rule, is a community that thinks of him as a kind and caring leader. However, Michonne accurately describes him as a "Jim Jones type", and his supply parties are, in truth, bandit raids. The Governor's name is Phillip Blake, and he has a zombified daughter named Penny, whom he keeps hidden, feeds body parts to, and grooms affectionately while playing the lullaby Bye, baby Bunting. Michonne uncovers clues that indicate he is mentally disturbed, including a notebook that begins as a sort of urban planning diary that devolves into list of names followed by pages of disturbing tally marks.
In the midseason finale of season three, during Rick's foray into Woodbury to rescue Glenn and Maggie, Michonne kills Penny, The Governor attacks Michonne, and in self-defense she stabs him in the hand and the eye with a glass shard, echoing the dismemberment she gives him in the comics. He then proceeds to rally Woodbury against the prison survivors, labeling them terrorists and raiders. Encouraged by Andrea, he eventually meets with Rick in a secluded area to offer him peace in exchange for Michonne (while actually planning to kill all of Rick's group and torture Michonne). Later on, his relationship with Andrea ends when she finds out about his dark, sadistic, duplicitous nature. Merle kidnaps Michonne two days later, but lets her go and instead lures walkers to The Governor's meeting place to ambush the Woodbury army. After Merle shoots eight of The Governor's men, The Governor shoots and kills Merle, leaving his body to reanimate as a walker, which is later killed by Daryl.
In the season three finale, The Governor leads his army into the prison to kill Rick's entire group, but Rick and the others have set a trap, expecting his arrival. Ambushed and outgunned by a very prepared Maggie and Glenn in riot gear, The Governor's army flees the prison in terror. The Governor stops the fast-fleeing convoy, and, in response to their protests against returning to the prison, he opens fire and slaughters them all, sparing only Caesar Martinez and Shumpert, his two best henchmen. A Woodbury resident, Karen, escapes his rampage by playing dead. As the season ends, The Governor, Martinez, and Shumpert's whereabouts are unknown.
In season four, Michonne has been actively hunting The Governor, but is failing in her endeavor and intends to continue her search into Macon. The Governor does not appear in this season until the fifth episode, during which he is very briefly shown hiding just outside of the prison. The following episode reveals that, just after massacring his own people, The Governor sets up camp with Martinez and Shumpert. However, they abandon him after he shows no reaction to a walker attempting to attack him, forcing Martinez to shoot it. The Governor drives back to Woodbury, which is overrun with walkers, and burns down the entire town. After several months alone, he finally collapses on the street. He looks up to see a young girl, about the same age as his dead daughter, in the window of a nearby apartment building; he pulls himself back to his feet and investigates. He finds the Chambler family residing inside, consisting of sisters Lilly and Tara, their father David, and Lilly's daughter Meghan (the young girl in the window). Lilly and Tara initially hold The Governor at gunpoint, but they later confiscate his pistol and allow him to stay in an apartment across the hallway.
After hearing about how The Governor has survived the last few months, they ask him his name. He tells them that it's Brian Heriot, a name he saw painted on the side of a barn while staggering aimlessly through the countryside. Lilly later comes to the apartment where he is staying and offers him some food; he accepts it, but after she leaves, he throws the food out of the window and continues eating a can of tuna he found. He goes to their apartment to return the plate and is invited inside. He runs some errands for the family, such as getting the backgammon set that one of David's old war friends had in his apartment on the floor above them, since playing backgammon is the only thing that makes Meghan happy. The Governor finds the backgammon set and a few rounds of ammo in the apartment. He kills the walker of David's friend and takes a revolver from it. He returns to the Chamblers' apartment, gives David the backgammon set, and leaves.
Lilly asks him to get some oxygen tanks for David, who has cancer and whose last tank is running out of oxygen. After several struggles with walkers at a nearby nursing home, The Governor is able to escape with two oxygen tanks. Lilly thanks him and cleans a minor head wound that he received. She lets Meghan stay and watch him while she goes back to their apartment; Meghan asks him how he got his eyepatch, and he says that he'll tell her the truth if she doesn't tell anyone. Later, he is teaching Meghan how to play chess when Lilly reveals that David has died. The Governor tells the surviving Chamblers to leave David's room, as he knows that David is about to reanimate, but Lilly wants another minute alone to say goodbye. David turns and nearly bites Tara, but The Governor is able to save them by bashing David's head in with one of the very oxygen tanks he grabbed from the nursing home. After he buries David, he burns his photo of his wife and daughter.
That night, he goes to the Chamblers to say goodbye, but Lilly insists that he stay. The Governor says they can't go with him, but Lilly reveals that she saw the photo of his family. She admits that they aren't his old family, but he has become a part of theirs. The group leaves the building in a delivery truck parked outside. After camping at a lake, their vehicle breaks down, forcing them to abandon it and continue on foot. The Governor and Lilly sleep together. Down the road, Tara injures her leg. The Governor goes ahead and, seeing a group of walkers, orders them to drop their bags and run. While the rest flee, Meghan freezes in place, and The Governor convinces her to run to him. He then picks her up and leads the others through the woods. As they reach a clearing, The Governor and Meghan fall into a pit and find several walkers inside. Meghan cowers in a corner as The Governor kills the walkers with his bare hands, ripping out their throats and punching their heads in. Gunfire can be heard in the background, but it stops soon after The Governor kills the walkers. He hugs Meghan and promises that he will keep her safe from anything that may harm her. He hears a surprised voice coming from outside the pit. He looks up and sees Martinez standing above him.
Martinez takes The Governor and the girls in and lets them join their camp. Among the camp are brothers Pete and Mitch, who have a working tank. When it becomes clear that Martinez may not be able to keep them safe and offers to share power with The Governor, The Governor kills him by throwing him into a pit of zombies. Pete takes command. Later, The Governor kills him as well and takes control of the group. He plans to rally them and use the tank in a second attack on the prison. He takes Hershel and Michonne hostage, and goes to the prison with his people and the tank. Meanwhile, back at the camp, Meghan is bitten by a walker from the river bank that was buried in the mud. Upon arriving at the prison, the Governor tells Rick that he is going to give their group a chance to leave without anyone getting killed. Rick tries to plead with The Governor, but the Governor is completely deaf to his pleas, as he holds Michonne's sword to Hershel's neck, eventually slicing it open; when Hershel, still barely alive, drags himself away in the ensuing chaos, The Governor brutally decapitates him as Hershel's daughters look on from the prison. The Governor then launches his attack on the prison, rolling the tank over the gates and firing at the prison. Lilly eventually arrives, approaches him with Meghan's corpse, which he takes and wordlessly shoots in the head. He goes into the fight himself and begins firing, only to be tackled by Rick. The two of them fight, and The Governor eventually pins Rick and brutally beats him before beginning to choke him. The Governor is then stabbed through the back by Michonne, who decides to leave him to bleed to death. Towards the end of the episode, a dying and barely-conscious Governor is approached and shot in the head by Lilly. In the opening of the next episode, his corpse is seen laying on the ground as Michonne escapes the prison grounds.
Casting and development
The character is portrayed by British actor David Morrissey. Glen Mazzara, when asked about the direction of the character for the third season of the show, described the Governor as a narcissist, who sees himself as the future savior of civilization and is willing to resort to the most extreme of measures to achieve his ultimate goal.
Penny is The Governor's undead daughter; despite making few appearances, she plays a key role in his mentality and actions. He secretly cares for the undead Penny in his apartment, as revealed in the episode "Say the Word". He brushes her hair, sings to her, and tells Michonne that she does not need to suffer, implying that he still believes Penny is alive and is "under the grip of a terrible, terrible illness".
The Governor's eye patch in the television series was placed on the opposite side to that of his comic book counterpart.
- Governor is number 86 IGN. Retrieved 10-05-09.
- The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor
- The Walking Dead #32 (October 2006)
- The Walking Dead #29 (June 2006)
- The Walking Dead #33 (December 2006)
- The Walking Dead #43 (October 2007)
- The Walking Dead #48 (April 2008)
- Fitzpatrick, Kevin (July 17, 2012). "'The Walking Dead' Season 3's Governor to be 'Sexy?'". Screen Crush.
- Inside Episode 308 The Walking Dead: Made to Suffer The Walking Dead (December 2, 2012)