Morgan Jones (The Walking Dead)
|The Walking Dead character|
Morgan Jones as portrayed by Lennie James in the television series (left) and in the comic book source material (right).
"Days Gone Bye"
|Created by||Robert Kirkman
|Portrayed by||Lennie James|
|Occupation||Alexandria cook (comic)|
|Family||Duane Jones (son)|
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 (Cynthiana, Kentucky, in the comics; a small town in Georgia in the television series) after the outbreak occurs.
In the TV series Morgan is a loving and devoted father trying to keep his son Duane alive in Rick's hometown in Georgia after the apocalypse occurs and is the first survivor Rick encounters, in the pilot episode, after awakening from his coma. After saving his life from a walker Morgan tells Rick about the outbreak and they part ways with the intention of reuniting in Atlanta but the two men lose contact. In season 3 Morgan is revealed to be alive when Rick encounters him on a supply run but has become mentally unstable as Duane was killed by Morgan's undead wife, and refuses to rejoin Rick's group insisting he needs to stay and clear the town of walkers. In season 5 Morgan recovers from his mental break, the story of which is elaborated upon in season 6, and learns that Rick is in Virginia and eventually finds the Alexandria Safe-Zone and reunites with his old friend. In season 6 Morgan has become a man of peace, insisting they can resolve threats without the use of violence, which conflicts with Rick's views. A flashback episode reveals that after encountering Rick the second time Morgan met a survivor named Eastman who helped him recover from his mental break, teaching him aikido a and insisting he doesn't have to kill people no matter the situation.
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.[volume & issue needed]
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. While 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 his failure to protect 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.[volume & issue needed] 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.[volume & issue needed] This leads her to temporarily end their relationship.[volume & issue needed]
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 a small Georgia town called King County. 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", when Rick, Carl, and Michonne go on a run into King County, Morgan holds them at gunpoint from a roof. They have a shootout, and while trying to pursue Rick, Carl ultimately shoots Morgan in the chest. Rick pulls off Morgan's shirt, revealing that he had donned body armor. They drag his unconscious-self into his building, avoiding his traps, and lay him down on a bed. For safety measures, his hands are bound by Rick. While Rick is reading the strange writings on the wall, he discovers that Duane had reanimated, and decides to stay and wait for Morgan to wake up. While Michonne and Carl go on a run, Rick waits for him to wake up, but Morgan grabs a knife that was taped to the side of the bed. He attacks Rick, claiming that he is not familiar with anyone anymore. He stabs Rick in the upper-left chest. Rick knocks the weapon away, pointing his revolver at Morgan's head, and Morgan begs Rick to kill him. Morgan is tied up again and, after patching himself up, Rick finally manages to make him remember that the two know each other. Morgan says that he tried to contact Rick every morning for several weeks, but he never answered the radio, before explaining what happened to Duane. He is offered the chance to join the group at the prison, but he realizes that Rick is taking a lot of guns, meaning that they are preparing for a war. Morgan claims that Rick, Carl, and his people will die either by bullets or by walkers, and refuses to join them, not wanting to see anyone else die. While clearing out the walkers caught on his traps, Carl approaches Morgan and tells him that he is sorry for shooting him earlier. Morgan remarks to Carl, "Don't ever be sorry." While leaving King County, Rick, Carl, and Michonne watch as Morgan prepares to burn the corpses of the walkers he captured.
After the credits in the episode "No Sanctuary", a masked man is seen approaching a Terminus sign Rick had written "No Sanctuary" on. He turns around and pulls off his mask, revealing himself to be Morgan who finds a cross mark on a tree and begins following a trail of them. Morgan reappears after the credits in the episode "Coda" where he follows the tree markings left by Gareth to the elementary school where he and the Hunters had cannibalized Bob Stookey's leg. Morgan puts down a walker pinned under debris and comes across Fr. Gabriel Stokes's church, where he puts together a makeshift shrine and kneels in front of it, praying for a short time before laughing. Morgan finds the map with a route to Washington D.C. lying on the ground (the one that Abraham Ford had previously given to Rick in the episode "Four Walls and a Roof") and reads the message Abraham had left on it for Rick. Morgan realizes that his friend is still alive somewhere.
In the season finale "Conquer", Morgan is now in Virginia and sleeping inside of a car, before starting a fire. A man approaches him at gunpoint, revealing himself to be a member of the Wolves, and demands that Morgan surrender all of his supplies. As another Wolves member lunges at Morgan from behind with a knife, Morgan dodges the attack and fights the men with his staff, overpowering them and knocking them unconscious. Morgan places them in the backseat of the car and blows the horn--checking if any walkers are nearby--before departing. When Daryl Dixon and Aaron become trapped in a van surrounded by walkers when they set off a trap laid by the Wolves, Morgan rescues them and Aaron offers him the chance to come to Alexandria as a thank you for saving them. Morgan initially turns down the offer, but says he is lost but on his way to somewhere, and shows Daryl the map to Washington D.C. with Rick's name on it that he had found at the church. Realizing that Morgan knows Rick, Daryl and Aaron bring him to Alexandria, where they arrive in time to witness Rick executing Pete Anderson under orders from Deanna Monroe following Pete's murder of Deanna's husband.
In the season premiere, "First Time Again", Morgan and Rick catch up, revealing that he learned how to use his staff from someone after the outbreak. Morgan is kept in a room for the night before Rick lets him free, telling him he doesn't take chances anymore. Morgan accompanies Rick in going out of the Safe Zone to bury Pete, when they come across a rock quarry filled with walkers. Morgan helps Rick with his plan to lure the walkers out of the quarry and away from the Safe Zone, knowing it's only a matter of time before they break free. Morgan is present when they walk in on Carter (Ethan Embry) discussing his plans to kill Rick and take the Safe Zone back, holding a gun to Eugene. Rick disarms Carter, which leads him into telling Morgan that no matter what happens, people like Carter will end up dying. During construction on a makeshift barrier, several walkers stumble into the work zone. Rick wants the Alexandrians to kill them, but Morgan intervenes, saying he doesn't take chances anymore either. As the group are luring the walkers out of the quarry and away from the Safe Zone, a blaring horn is heard coming from Alexandria. This causes the herd of walkers to begin making their way through the woods and back to the Safe Zone, with Morgan, Rick and Michonne running back to Alexandria. In the episode "JSS", Morgan arrives back at Alexandria and stops the horn which came from a big rig truck that crashed into a tower. He asked what happened and was informed that Alexandria was breached by a group known as the wolves who are brutally slaughtering everyone they can in Alexandria with an arsenal of blades. The Reverend Gabriel Stokes was being attacked by a wolf and Morgan comes to stop and knock the guy unconscious to save Gabriel. Gabriel asked Morgan "where did you learn how to do that"? Morgan responded, " from a cheese maker". Morgan ran around Alexandria to fight off other wolves and found himself surrounded by five of them. The leader of the pack recognized Morgan from their previous encounter from Season 5. Morgan asked the Wolves to leave, but instead the Wolves attacked him. One by one the Wolves were knocked down by Morgan using only his staff in hand. He informs the wolf that his people have guns and they would be shot if they didn't leave. The wolves finally comply as they are no match for Morgan's hand to hand combat skills. Once the five Wolves left Alexandria and everything seems to calm down, Morgan surveyed the carnage left behind by the attackers. He went inside a house the Wolves ravaged and was ambushed by who appears to be the leader of the Wolves. A fight ensued between them in the living room, and eventually Morgan was able gain a upper hand to subdue the Wolf leader and knocked him unconscious.
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."
- Kirkman, Robert (w), Moore, Tony (p), Moore, Tony (i), Kirkman, Robert (let). "Days Gone Bye" The Walking Dead 1:  (October 8, 2003), 1071 N. Batavia St., Suite A, Orange, CA 92867: Image Comics
- The Walking Dead #34 (January 2007)
- The Walking Dead #58 (February 2009)
- Kirkman, Robert (w), Adlard, Charlie (p), Adlard, Charlie (inker, cover), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones, cover colors) (i), Wooton, Rus (let), Sitterson, Aubrey (ed). "What We Become" The Walking Dead v10, 59:  (March 12, 2009), 2134 Allston Way, 2nd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704: Image Comics
- The Walking Dead #64 (August 2009)
- Kirkman, Robert (w), Adlard, Charlie (p), Adlard, Charlie (inker, cover), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones, cover colors) (i), Wooton, Rus (let), Sitterson, Aubrey (ed). "Fear The Hunters" The Walking Dead v11, 61:  (May 15, 2009), 2134 Allston Way, 2nd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704: Image Comics
- Kirkman, Robert (w), Adlard, Charlie (p), Adlard, Charlie (inker, cover), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones, cover colors) (i), Wooton, Rus (let), Grace, Sina (ed). "Life Among Them" The Walking Dead v12, 72:  (May 19, 2010), 2134 Allston Way, 2nd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704: Image Comics
- Kirkman, Robert (w), Adlard, Charlie (p), Adlard, Charlie (inker, cover), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones, cover colors) (i), Wooton, Rus (let), Grace, Sina (ed). "Too Far Gone" The Walking Dead v13, 73:  (June 16, 2010), 2134 Allston Way, 2nd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704: Image Comics
- Kirkman, Robert (w), Adlard, Charlie (p), Adlard, Charlie (inker, cover), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones, cover colors) (i), Wooton, Rus (let), Grace, Sina (ed). "No Way Out" The Walking Dead v14, 81:  (February 2011), 2134 Allston Way, 2nd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704: Image Comics, Skybound Entertainment
- The Walking Dead #82 (March 2011)
- Kirkman, Robert (w), Adlard, Charlie (p), Adlard, Charlie (inker, cover), Cliff Rathburn (gray tones, cover colors) (i), Wooton, Rus (let), Grace, Sina (ed). "No Way Out" The Walking Dead v14, 83:  (March 30, 2011), 2134 Allston Way, 2nd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704: Image Comics, Skybound Entertainment
- "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.