Clementine (The Walking Dead)
|The Walking Dead series character|
Clementine, as depicted in The Walking Dead
|First appearance||"A New Day"|
|Created by||Sean Vanaman|
|Voiced by||Melissa Hutchison|
Wellington Community (optional)
The New Frontier
Lee Everett (surrogate father)
Alvin Jr. (surrogate son)
Clementine is a major character in The Walking Dead episodic adventure video game series, a spin-off of the Robert Kirkman comic of the same name by Telltale Games. She is non-playable in the first season, turned only playable protagonist in the second and the secondary playable protagonist in the third, alongside Javier. She is voiced by Melissa Hutchison and was written by several people, including Gary Whitta. Given her extensive role in all three seasons Clementine is the assumed protagonist of the game series.
Clementine is a young 8-year-old girl living with her parents in an Atlanta suburb. While her parents were away in Savannah, 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, she also developed bonds with Kenny and Jane, and becomes the surrogate mother of Alvin Jr, after his parents are killed. 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.
In the second season Clementine becomes the central character, and the game follows her adventures with a new group of survivors. This series has several endings, some that include her ending up in a place called Wellington with Kenny and a young boy called Alvin Jr, to returning to Howe's Hardware with Jane and even leaving both behind to take care of AJ on her own.
Clementine was considered an emotional centerpiece of 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 dialogue 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 Mixed-Race, 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: Season One
Clementine is introduced when the player-protagonist Lee Everett takes shelter in her suburban home in Georgia to find refuge from zombies (referred to in-universe as walkers). She is revealed to be hiding from the walkers alone as her parents had left for Savannah some time before the spread of the '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.
They eventually join a small group of survivors, which include Kenny, his wife Katjaa and his son Duck. Following several weeks struggling to survive, the survivors decide to head to Savannah, believing that if they can find a boat, they can find safety away from the mainland. En route, Kenny and Lee are forced to euthanize Duck after being bitten by a walker, and Katjaa takes her own life later. Lee spends time teaching Clementine how to survive on her own in this new world. As they near Savannah, Clementine's walkie-talkie goes off, and an unknown man tells her to come to meet him at the hotel downtown, the same hotel her parents would have been at, where she will be safe after he kills Lee.
The survivors find other people still alive in Savannah and eventually a boat. The group prepares to leave but Clementine and the boat go missing, and Lee in his haste to find her is bitten by a walker. Lee convinces the remaining survivors, including Kenny and friends Omid and Christa, to help locate Clementine. Kenny appears to sacrifice himself, while Lee ends up separated from Omid and Christa, and he tells them to wait for Clementine at the edge of the city. Lee goes to the hotel to find Clementine held by an insane man who blames Lee and Clementine for the death of his family. They work together to kill the man and escape the hotel. Lee helps Clementine mask her presence from the walkers and as they walk through a horde they find Clementine's parents, both turned. Lee passes out and Clementine drags him into nearby shelter. Knowing he is about to turn into a walker, Lee gives Clementine some last pieces of advice and tells her to meet Omid and Christa. He then asks her to kill him (a choice left to the player). Later, Clementine has safely left the city, and raises her gun when she sees two figures approach her on the horizon.
The Walking Dead: Season Two
Season Two starts some months after the end of the first season. Clementine has been able to regroup with Omid and Christa, but her carelessness at a rest stop causes Omid to be killed by a scavenger. About eighteen months later, she and Christa are separated by another scavenger attack, and she eventually stumbles onto another group of survivors, demonstrating her value and ingenuity to them. She learns this group is being tracked by a man named Carver, who believes that one member of the group, Rebecca, is carrying his child, though Rebecca's husband Alvin denies his claim.
The group moves north, hoping to reach the rumored safe place called Wellington. They find a ski lodge in which another group is inhabited. After a brief run-in between the two groups, Clementine is surprised to find Kenny alive, his escape left unexplained. After their reunion, Clementine observes that while Kenny has grown close to Sarita, his attitude towards others has become hostile and distrustful. During a walker attack, the combined groups are saved by the sudden appearance of Carver and his men, who kill a man named Walter before taking the survivors as his prisoners to a well-fortified department store. Clementine and the others are put to work in exchange for their safety, and when they try to escape Carver bludgeons one of Kenny's eyes in punishment. Seeing Carver's ruthlessness leads two other survivors, Jane and Bonnie, to join their group in plotting an escape before the store is overrun by a mass of walkers. Clementine is instrumental in their escape, and Kenny and Rebecca kill Carver.
As they flee, Sarita is bit by a walker, and Clementine and Kenny are forced to euthanize her. When they regroup, Kenny is distraught and refuses to talk to anyone, but Clementine is able to break him out of his emotional depression, so as to help Rebecca give birth to her baby, which is later named Alvin Jr. or AJ. Jane takes interest in Clementine, and like Lee before, helps to teach her some survival skills including understanding that she cannot save everyone.
After another walker attack, the group continues northward despite Rebecca's worsening health. They are ambushed by a group of Russian immigrants led by Arvo, leading to a Mexican standoff. Clementine sees that Rebecca has succumbed to her wounds, has died but is now re-animating as a walker, and she is forced to shoot her to save AJ. This sets off the gunfight, but Jane manages to kill the other Russians, and the group forces Arvo to take them to shelter. As they are chased by walkers, they are forced to walk across a frozen lake, which with the added weight of the walkers, causes the ice to break and Clementine to fall in and others to drown. Once they are safe and Clementine is given time to warm up, Kenny threatens to beat Arvo to death, but Clementine manages to stop him; Jane warns Clementine that Kenny may be beyond help.
Clementine discovers Arvo and others attempting to sneak away, due to being afraid of Kenny, which leads to Arvo shooting Clementine. While unconscious, Clementine has a lucid dream involving Lee. When she wakes she finds herself with Kenny, Jane, and AJ heading north in a truck. They are forced to stop as a snowstorm approaches with the road blocked ahead, and Kenny goes to look for a way around; while he is gone, Jane urges Clementine to leave Kenny behind. A walker horde appears, and Clementine is separated from Jane and AJ, but finds shelter in a nearby rest stop where she finds Kenny. Jane appears and implies that AJ has been killed, on hearing this Kenny attacks Jane. The two struggle, and Clementine is forced to have one or both of them die. After the fight, she finds AJ safely hidden in a nearby car as part of Jane's plan to expose Kenny's temperament. The player can either decide for Clementine to leave with AJ alone or accompanied by the survivor of the fight. If Kenny is chosen the player may either chose to have Clementine enter Wellington with AJ alone or to continue travelling with Kenny. If Jane is chosen the pair return to the department store and the player has the choice to let a family enter with them or not.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier
Clementine is one of two playable characters in the third season of the series A New Frontier, first released in late 2016. The game takes place a few years after Season 2, where several events have occurred to her depending of which ending the player choose in season 2. She will have a scar on her forehead, a scar on her left cheek, a "AJ" brand on her left hand or a missing left ringfinger depending on which of the events occur. She currently tends to AJ, now a toddler.
Clementine's history since the end of Season 2 is told in flashbacks throughout A New Frontier. If she had gone with Kenny, she accidentally crashes a car while being taught how to drive by Kenny who is subsequently paralyzed from the waist down. He sacrifices himself to a horde of walkers as Clementine and AJ flee from the crash site. If she had gone with Jane, she discovers Jane has committed suicide after finding out she was pregnant. If Clementine stayed at Wellington she is grazed by a bullet escaping from Wellington's destruction by a hostile group. If traveling alone with AJ her finger is broken in a car door and she is forced to amputate it. No matter what the player chooses she will eventually end up tending for AJ alone. She encounters Ava, another teenage girl who tells her about joining a group called the New Frontier.
Within the present of A New Frontier, Clementine had become a member of the New Frontier but was exiled after stealing medicine from the group's doctor in an attempt to save a deathly ill AJ, a history she keeps quiet from others. She rescues Javier while trying to acquire a working vehicle and stays with him to help rescue his family at a nearby junkyard. They get into a conflict with other members of the New Frontier, and ultimately Clementine and Javier are forced to travel to Richmond, a fortified town that has been taken over by the New Frontier.
The character was acclaimed by both critics and fans. 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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