Clementine (The Walking Dead)
|The Walking Dead series character|
Clementine, as depicted in The Walking Dead
|First appearance||"A New Day" (2012)|
|Created by||Sean Vanaman|
|Voiced by||Melissa Hutchison|
Clementine is a fictional 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 the playable protagonist in the second and fourth and the secondary playable protagonist in the third, alongside Javier Garcia. She is voiced by Melissa Hutchison and was written by several people, including Gary Whitta.
In the first season, Clementine is a young 8-9 year old girl living with her parents in an Atlanta suburb. While her parents were away in Savannah, her babysitter was killed. She was then 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 Lee Everett, a former convict 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.
In the second season, Clementine becomes the central character, and the game follows her adventures with a new group of survivors. She develops bonds with Kenny and Jane, and becomes the adoptive mother of Alvin Jr (known in the game as AJ), after his parents are killed. This season has several endings: some that include her ending up in a place called Wellington with AJ, to wandering with Kenny and AJ, to returning to Howe's Hardware with Jane and AJ, or even leaving one or the other behind to take care of AJ on her own.
In the third season, Clementine is separated from AJ and crosses paths with Javier Garcia and his family, becoming involved in their conflict with the New Frontier, a hostile faction to which she formerly belonged.
The fourth and final season sees Clementine, now in her late teens, reunited with AJ as they join a group of kids surviving in an abandoned boarding school.
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 first appeared in the 2012 episode video game The Walking Dead. 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 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 second season, Clementine becomes the 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 in a tree house 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 or leave him to re-animate after he is bitten by a walker, causing Katjaa to take her own life. 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.
The survivors meet other people still alive in Savannah and eventually they find 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 trying to save Ben or Christa (depending on previous decisions.), while Lee ends up separated from Omid and Christa. Lee goes to the hotel to find Clementine held hostage by an insane man who blames Lee for the death of his family. They work together to kill the man and escape the hotel. Lee covers Clementine and himself in walker guts to mask their scent 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 or leave him behind (a choice left to the player). Later, Clementine has safely left the city, and 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. Sixteen 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 cabin survivors move north, hoping to reach the rumored safe place called Wellington. They find a ski lodge inhabited by another group, where Clementine is surprised to find Kenny alive, his escape left unexplained. During a walker attack, the combined groups are saved by the sudden appearance of Carver and his minions, who take the survivors as their 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 brutally bludgeons Kenny as punishment. Seeing Carver's ruthlessness leads three other survivors, Jane, Mike, 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 kills Carver.
As they flee, Kenny's girlfriend 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 exhaustion and blood loss from the birth, has died but is now re-animating as a walker, and she or Kenny are forced to shoot her to save AJ. This sets off the gunfight, but they manage 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 their added weight, causes the ice to break and Luke to drown.
Later that evening, 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, a woman 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. Clementine helps Javier to assure his family's well-being and defuse the issues with the New Frontier and other survivor outposts. She learns that AJ is being kept at a ranch outside of town, and takes her leave to recover him.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season
The Final Season, first released in August 2018, is intended by Telltale Games to be the closure of Clementine's narrative arc in their series. Some years after the events of A New Frontier, Clementine and AJ, who is now a young boy, are traveling on their own. After stumbling into a walker horde, they are rescued by children from the nearby Ericson boarding school, run by Marlon. Clementine uses the time to help AJ acclimate to social skills that he has not had a chance to use, while she helps the other children for sustainability and protection. Eventually, Clementine finds out from one of the school's residents, Brody, that Marlon traded two of their members to a group of raiders that threatened the school in exchange for safety and intends to do the same with her and AJ should they return, Clementine having encountered one of these raiders earlier in the episode. After Marlon accidentally kills Brody and Clementine is forced to put her down when she re-animates, she confronts Marlon and pressures him to reveal the truth to the other kids, only for him to be suddenly shot in the head by AJ.
Despite their attempts to apologize for Marlon's death, the other kids vote for Clementine and AJ to leave the school, where in its outskirts they run into Abel (the raider from the previous episode) and Lilly, who is revealed to have survived after being forced out of the survivor group by Lee and Kenny for murdering Carley/Doug. Lilly, having become a member of the raiders that forcibly recruited Sophie and Minerva (the twin sisters from Ericson that Marlon gave away), threatens Clementine to return to the school and convince the rest of the children to give themselves over to her group. Clementine and AJ escape Lilly and Abel with the help of James, a former member of the Whisperers, although AJ is gravely wounded by gun shrapnel. The next morning, Clementine takes AJ back to Ericson for medical treatment and warns the kids of Lilly's incoming attack, helping them prepare by fortifying the school. Two weeks later, Lilly and her raiders arrive. Despite the children's efforts to fight back, the raiders kill one of them and kidnap three more, leaving Clementine and the remaining kids with a captured Abel, whom they intend to interrogate on the whereabouts of the raiders' camp.
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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