The Governor (The Walking Dead)

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The Governor
The Walking Dead character
The Governor, as portrayed by David Morrissey in the television 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
Charlie Adlard
Cliff Rathburn
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 are 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, whom 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 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,[1] 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[edit]

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.[2]

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.[3]

Comic book series[edit]

The Governor, as depicted in the 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.[volume & issue needed] After initially acting hospitable, the Governor turns on the group.[volume & issue needed] 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.[4] To learn the location of the prison, the Governor allows the survivors to escape the premises with the help of one of his guards.[volume & issue needed] However, Michonne stays behind and finds her way to his apartment, where she brutally tortures him.[volume & issue needed] He loses his right arm, his fingernails, his testicles, and his left eye.[volume & issue needed] When Michonne rejoins the group and they ask her if the Governor still lives, Michonne is uncertain.[5]

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.[volume & issue needed] The Governor uses the murder of a guard by Rick to rally the townspeople against the prison's inhabitants.[6] Things do not go according to plan, as Rick's group puts up a tenacious defense that leads to a humiliating retreat.[volume & issue needed] After a failed later attempt to gain his way into the prison by use of Tyreese as a hostage, the Governor crushes the fences with a tank.[volume & issue needed] A bloody massacre ensues, leading to an incredibly high death toll and ultimately making the prison less secure and less habitable.[volume & issue needed]

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.[volume & issue needed] 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.[7]

Television series[edit]

Season 3[edit]

The Governor first appears in "Walk with Me", the third episode of season three, having forcibly taken Andrea and Michonne from the woods after Merle discovers them near a downed military helicopter. Woodbury, under his rule, is a community that thinks of him as a kind and caring leader. 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. In the episode "Killer Within", the Governor works on convincing Andrea and Michonne to stay in Woodbury, although Michonne notices bullet holes and bloodstains on the National Guard vehicles, which increases her suspicions. He is more successful at befriending Andrea, and he reveals some of his past to Andrea and that his real name is Phillip Blake. In the episode "Say the Word", it is shown that the Governor 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. He allows Michonne to leave town, but she is unable to convince Andrea to leave with her. The Governor leads Andrea to a gathering for the townsfolk: a sparring match between Merle and Martinez while surrounded by chained, toothless walkers. The spectacle shocks Andrea, who describes it as "barbaric", but the Governor insists it is "fun" and teaches the residents to not be afraid. In the episode "Hounded", Andrea confesses to the Governor that she did enjoy the fights of the previous evening, and he and Andrea begin a sexual relationship. He sends Merle to find and kill Michonne, and although Merle fails to kill her, he returns with two captives, Glenn and Maggie. Merle lies to the governor and claims that Michonne was killed. In the episode "When the Dead Come Knocking", the Governor conceals his activities from Andrea, while he interrogates Maggie and Glenn. When he threatens to shoot Glenn, Maggie gives him the information about the prison and their group. In the mid-season finale "Made to Suffer", 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 right eye with a glass shard. Realizing that Merle lied to him about Michonne, the Governor calls a town meeting, where he claims the town has been attacked by terrorists brought by Merle and he brings forth a captured Daryl, reuniting the brothers. The Governor orders them to fight to the death, and the town calls for their blood, as a shocked Andrea looks on.

In the mid-season premiere "The Suicide King", the fight between Merle and Daryl is broken up when the prison group attacks, allowing the brothers to escape while the Governor looks on. The Governor withdraws to his apartment as the town is in unrest after the attack. Andrea confronts him about her friends' presence in town, and then goes out to calm and inspire the townspeople. In the episode "Home", the Governor asks Milton where his loyalties lie, and asks him to keep tabs on Andrea. The Governor and his men then attack the prison, as Rick's group runs for cover and gunfire erupts on both sides A bread truck crashes through the prison's inner and outer gates and stops in the yard. The Governor smiles as the back door opens and walkers stream out. The Governor gleefully sprays machine gun fire in the air and then drives off as the survivors struggle with the walkers. In the episode "I Ain't a Judas", the Governor proceeds to rally Woodbury against the prison survivors, labeling them terrorists and raiders. Andrea wants to leave to negotiate a peace with the prison, but The Governor discourages her, implying that she will not be welcomed back if she leaves. When Milton tells the Governor that Andrea asked him to help her sneak out, the Governor tells him to go with her. The Governor welcomes Tyreese and his group to Woodbury, after Rick kicked them out of the prison, and they volunteer to help out around Woodbury with whatever is needed, supplying him with a layout of the prison. Andrea returns to Woodbury and is allowed back in, where she warily resumes her place at the Governor's side. In the episode "Arrow on the Doorpost", encouraged by Andrea, the Governor meets with Rick in a secluded area to offer him peace in exchange for Michonne, giving him two days to think about it. The Governor returns to Woodbury and secretly orders Martinez to set an ambush at the barn, to kill all of Rick's group and bring Michonne to Woodbury so he can torture her. In the episode "Prey", Milton tries to talk the Governor out of killing the prison group, and when this fails Milton reveals the Governor's plans and his dark, sadistic, duplicitous nature to Andrea. Andrea flees for the prison, and the Governor hunts her down personally, bringing her back to Woodbury and strapping her in the dentist's chair that he meant to use on Michonne. In the episode "This Sorrowful Life", Merle kidnaps Michonne at Rick's suggestion to turn her over to the Governor, 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 final "Welcome to the Tombs", 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 Martinez and Shumpert, his two best henchmen. A Woodbury resident, Karen, escapes his rampage by playing dead. The Governor, Martinez, and Shumpert are last seen driving off.

Season 4[edit]

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 "Internment", during which he is very briefly shown hiding just outside of the prison.

The following episode "Live Bait" 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. Brian 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. Brian 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.

In the episode "Dead Weight", 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. In the mid-season finale "Too Far Gone", The Governor 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 "After", his corpse is seen lying on the ground, with both legs dragged off and his chest ripped into and a bullet in his forehead, as Michonne escapes the prison grounds.

Casting and development[edit]

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.[8]

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".[9]

The Governor's eye patch in the television series was placed on the opposite side to that of his comic book counterpart.


  1. ^ Governor is number 86 IGN. Retrieved 10-05-09.
  2. ^ The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor
  3. ^ The Walking Dead #32 (October 2006)
  4. ^ Kirkman, Robert (w), Adlard, Charlie (p), Adlard, Charlie (inker, cover), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones, cover colors, back cover) (i), Wooton, Rus (let). "The Best Defense" The Walking Dead v5, 29: [22] (June 2006), 1942 University Avenue, Suite 305, Berkeley, CA 94704: Image Comics
  5. ^ Kirkman, Robert (w), Adlard, Charlie (p), Adlard, Charlie (inker, cover), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones, cover colors, back cover) (i), Wooton, Rus (let). "This Sorrowful Life" The Walking Dead v6, 33: [22] (December 2006), 1942 University Avenue, Suite 305, Berkeley, CA 94704: Image Comics
  6. ^ Kirkman, Robert (w), Adlard, Charlie (p), Adlard, Charlie (inker, cover), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones, cover colors, back cover) (i), Wooton, Rus (let). "Made To Suffer" The Walking Dead v8, 43: [26] (October 24, 2007), 1942 University Avenue, Suite 305, Berkeley, CA 94704: Image Comics
  7. ^ Kirkman, Robert (w), Adlard, Charlie (p), Adlard, Charlie (inker, cover), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones, cover colors) (i), Wooton, Rus (let). "Made To Suffer" The Walking Dead v8, 48: [22] (April 2, 2008), 1942 University Avenue, Suite 305, Berkeley, CA 94704: Image Comics
  8. ^ Fitzpatrick, Kevin (July 17, 2012). "'The Walking Dead' Season 3's Governor to be 'Sexy?'". Screen Crush.
  9. ^ Inside Episode 308 The Walking Dead: Made to Suffer The Walking Dead (December 2, 2012)