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 (left) and in the comic book series (right).
First appearance Comic:
"Issue #27" (April 15th 2006)
"Walk with Me" (S03E03)
Last appearance Comic:
"Issue #72" (flashback)
"What Happened and What's Going On" (hallucination)
Created by Robert Kirkman
Charlie Adlard
Cliff Rathburn
Portrayed by David Morrissey
Occupation Leader of Woodbury, Georgia
Family Comic and Novels:
Ed Blake (father)
Rose Blake (mother)
Bud Blake (uncle)
Nina Blake (sister)
Philip Blake (brother)
In Both Mediums:
Penny Blake (niece in novels, daughter in TV series)
Significant other(s) Television:
Mrs. Blake
Lilly Chambler

The Governor (real name Philip Blake in the TV series and Brian Blake in the comic and novels) is a fictional character and a primary antagonist from The Walking Dead comic book and television series. On television, he is portrayed by David Morrissey. Created by Robert Kirkman and artists Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn, the character made his comics debut in The Walking Dead #27 on April 2006 and his television debut in season 3. In both series, The Governor is the seemingly charismatic leader of Woodbury, Georgia, but instead turns out to be a ruthless, homicidal mastermind who comes into conflict with protagonist Rick Grimes and is responsible for several deaths of primary characters. The Governor's origins are explored in the novel The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor, written by Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga.

In the television series, The Governor's disturbing motives are reflected in his authoritarian ways in dealing with threats to his community, primarily by executing most large groups and only accepting lone survivors into his community. His dark nature escalates when he comes into conflict with Rick Grimes and the latter's group, who are occupying the nearby prison. The Governor vows to eliminate the prison group, and in that pursuit, he leaves several key characters dead both in Rick's group and his own. The Governor has a romantic relationship with Andrea, who unsuccessfully seeks to broker a truce between the two groups. In season 4, The Governor attempts to redeem his coldblooded past acts upon meeting a new family, to whom he introduces himself as Brian Heriot, although he reverts to his old persona to ensure the family's survival. This leads to more characters' deaths and forces Rick and his group to abandon the prison.

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]

Comic book series[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, and Philip was revealed to be his deceased brother.[2]

When the dead began to rise, Brian and Philip gathered a small group, which included Brian's niece Penny, and the group were constantly on the run when unsecured locations were breached; 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 to be a fair and strong leader, he became consumed with his sense of power and control, while at the same time he became 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]

The Governor, as depicted in the comic book series.

Following Woodbury's capture and the murder of stranded refugees from Atlanta, The Governor is met by Rick Grimes, when Grimes' band of survivors explores 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, The Governor 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, Caesar Martinez.[volume & issue needed] However, Michonne stays behind and finds her way to The Governor's apartment, where she brutally tortures him.[volume & issue needed] He loses his right arm, his fingernails, his penis, and his left eye.[volume & issue needed] When Michonne rejoins the group and they ask her if The Governor is still alive, Michonne is uncertain.[5]

The Governor survives with the help of Bob Stookey, a citizen who had medical experience, and is eventually able to find the prison.[volume & issue needed] The Governor uses Rick's murder of Martinez to rally Woodbury's townspeople against the prison's inhabitants.[6] Things do not go according to plan, however, as Rick's group puts up a tenacious defense that forces Woodbury's humiliating retreat.[volume & issue needed] After a failed attempt to gain his way into the prison, by using Tyreese as a hostage and subsequently decapitating Tyreese with Michonne's katana, The Governor crushes the fences with a tank.[volume & issue needed] A bloody massacre ensues, leading to a 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 their remaining ammunition is limited, and a handful of Woodbury residents' moral consciences come into play, especially regarding the killing of defenseless or young members of the prison group.[volume & issue needed] Both factors lead to the remnants of The Governor's army turning on him, and to Lilly's killing him, throwing his corpse to the zombies, and making a last-ditch attempt to fortify the prison.[7]

Television series[edit]

Before the outbreak, Philip and Brian Blake were raised by an abusive father. As an adult, Philip worked an office job with a boss he didn't get along with, was married, and had a daughter named Penny. 18 months before the outbreak, Philip lost his wife in a car accident. He felt guilty as he ignored her last call, being busy with work at the time and was always haunted by what she was trying to tell him. During the early days of the outbreak, Philip and Penny survived and found a community in Woodbury. Philip became good friends with Milton Mamet, but Penny was bitten and turned. Unable to accept her death, Philip locked her up in a private room in his office. When the community was leaderless, they picked Philip to lead and began calling him "The Governor", a nickname which stuck. Losing his daughter made Philip cold, severe, and paranoid about losing his community, and he executed any outsider groups he saw as a threat, making cover stories to keep the community members in the dark with the few he trusted most. He allowed some smaller groups to move into Woodbury if he deemed them to be an asset and not a threat to his leadership, but still took precautions and had them monitored by his most trusted until he deemed them trustworthy. At some point during the first and second season The Governor encounters a dying Merle Dixon, whom The Governor enlisted, along with Caesar Martinez and Milton, as his lieutenant and advisers while, he had Milton research a means to reverse the walker virus in the deluded hopes of saving Penny. The Governor was also known to have had affairs with many of the Woodbury women.


The Governor is shown to be manipulative, callous, violent, and utilitarian enough to violate societal norms (such as not massacring people) for his perceived benefit of the community. This is shown when he tells the crashed national guardsmen, Lieutenant Wells, that he would find and bring back any of his fellow soldiers that he found alive on the highway. Despite finding them alive, he and his men massacred them, took their supplies and concocted a story to tell the community members. He frequently kills anyone who he believes has betrayed him, or is a threat, as he attempted with Michonne and Rick's group. His behavior is no surprise given his abusive childhood and the loss of his daughter.

Appearances in the television series[edit]

Season 3[edit]

The Governor first appears in "Walk with Me", season 3, episode 3, having forcibly taken Andrea and Michonne from the woods after Merle discovers them near a downed military helicopter. Woodbury, under The Governor's rule, is a community that thinks of him as a kind and caring leader. They are unaware that he murdered the surviving soldier, Lt. Welles, after Welles told him where the rest of his squad was. When The Governor arrives at the squad's encampment, he and his men kill all the guardsmen 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 her, including his real name. 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 lists of names, followed by pages of tally marks. The Governor 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 surrounded by chained, toothless walkers. The spectacle shocks Andrea, who describes it as "barbaric", but the Governor insists it is "fun", and it 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 The Governor 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, and the town is in a state of 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; Rick Grimes' 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 peace with the prison group, 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, Sasha, Allen, and Ben to Woodbury, after Rick kicked them out of the prison, and they volunteer to help out around Woodbury with whatever is needed, and supply The Governor 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 grain silo to offer him peace in exchange for turning over 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 The Governor 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, ruthless, 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. Merle shoots at them while they're distracted by the walkers, and he kills eight of the Governor's men. Then, the Governor maims, shoots, and kills Merle, leaving his body to reanimate as a walker, which Daryl later kills. In the season finale "Welcome to the Tombs", The Governor brutally beats up Milton after learning that Milton burned the walkers which The Governor had been corralling, then he shows Milton Andrea tied up and orders him to kill her. Instead, Milton tries in vain to kill The Governor, but The Governor stabs and leaves him to bleed out, locked in door with Andrea, so that Milton will reanimate and kill Andrea. The Governor then leads his army into the prison to kill Rick's entire group, but Tyreese and Sasha wants nothing to do with it, and stay behind at Woodbury. Rick and the others have set a trap at the prison, expecting the Woodbury army's arrival. Ambushed and outgunned by Maggie and Glenn, clad 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 primary henchmen. Only Karen escapes his rampage (by playing dead under a corpse). The Governor, Martinez, and Shumpert are last seen driving off as Rick and Tyreese bring everyone from Woodbury to the prison, and leave Woodbury to be overrun.

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, but Daryl and Tyreese talk her out of it and she ceases her hunt. The Governor does not appear in this season until the fifth episode "Internment", during which he is very briefly shown hiding just outside the prison.

The following episode "Live Bait" reveals that, just after massacring his own people, the Governor sets up camp with Martinez and Shumpert where they murdered Welles' squad. When he does not try to stop a walker from killing him, Martinez shoots it and, believing the Governor to be broken, he and Shumpert abandon him. The next day the Governor drives back to Woodbury, which is overrun with walkers, and burns down the entire town. After several months alone intentionally trying to let the walkers kill him, he finally collapses on the street. He looks up to see a young girl, about the same age as Penny, 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. 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 is "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. Brian 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 David's reanimated friend Bill and takes a revolver. He returns to the Chamblers' apartment, gives David the backgammon set, and leaves. Lilly asks Brian 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, Brian 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 tells her that he was trying to help someone he cared for, but lies about the circumstances and leaves out that he was trying to kill Michonne. Later, he is teaching Meghan how to play chess when Lilly reveals that David has died. Brian tells the family 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 Brian is able to save them by bashing in David's head with one of the oxygen tanks. After he buries David, he burns his photo of his wife and Penny. That night, he goes to the Chamblers to say goodbye, but Lilly insists that he stay. Brian says they cannot go with him, but Lilly says he has become a part of their family. Brian and Lilly become lovers, and Brian saves Meghan when she falls into a pit of walkers, killing them with his bare hands. Gunfire can be heard in the background, but it stops soon after Brian 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 in the Governor, accepting his new facade as "Brian", and the girls and lets them join their camp. Among the camp are brothers Pete and Mitch Dolgen, who have a working tank. While scouting for supplies the four find walker bodies cut up with the words "liar", "murderer" and "rapist" written on them, the last one with a photo of a family resembling the Governor's, greatly implied to be a warning from Michonne during her earlier searches. When it becomes clear that Martinez may not be able to keep them safe and offers to share power with Brian, Brian kills him by throwing him into a pit of zombies. Pete takes command, and Brian later kills him as well after he displays an inability to kill a group of other survivors to take their belongings. Brian tells Mitch who, though angry that Brian murdered his brother, understands why after Brian explains his plan to find a sanctuary. Brian plans to rally the camp and use the tank in a second attack on the prison. In the ending scene when scouting the prison he sees Michonne and Hershel, and prepares to shoot them. In the mid-season finale "Too Far Gone", Brian instead takes Hershel and Michonne hostage and informs the camp of his plan to take the prison. He says Rick's group destroyed Woodbury and killed Penny, and that they are murderers and thieves but that there are good people among them, and tells his camp that he plans to use Hershel and Michonne as leverage to force Rick's group out of the prison without killing anyone. Michonne vows to kill Brian, while Hershel tries to reason with him but Brian becomes angered when Hershel calls him "Governor", telling him never call him that name again. Upon arriving at the prison with his army and tank, Brian tells Rick that he is going to give their group a chance to leave without anyone getting killed. Rick tries to plead with Brian, stating that they can co-exist peacefully, but Brian calls him a liar and executes Hershel as a fire-fight ensures. Lilly, with Meghan's corpse in her arms, arrives in time to see him murder Hershel. Brian dispassionately shoots Meghan to prevent reanimation before ordering his people to kill everyone in the prison. Brian uses the tank to roll over the fences and goes into the fight himself, only to be tackled by Rick. The two of them fight, and Brian eventually pins Rick and brutally beats him before beginning to choke him to death. Before he can finish him, Brian is 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 Brian is shot in the head by Lilly. In the opening of the next episode "After", his corpse is seen lying on the ground, with a bullet hole in his forehead.

Season 5[edit]

In the mid-season premiere "What Happened and What's Going On", the Governor appears, along with Beth Greene, Bob Stookey, Martin, and Lizzie and Mika Samuels, during Tyreese's hallucinations after Tyreese is bitten on the forearm by a walker and is dying. While Beth, Bob, and the girls comfort Tyreese and assure him it's ok, to let go, The Governor and Martin taunt him about his past actions and inability to do what is necessary because of his morality. The Governor, especially, criticizes Tyreese's survival choices particularly to forgive Carol for murdering Karen. The Governor reminds him that he promised to do what it took to earn his keep, but he failed to adapt because he didn't want to even though he forced him to. However, Tyreese stands up and confronts The Governor. Tyreese acknowledges The Governor's words, that he'd do what's needed to earn his keep, but didn't know the kind of person The Governor was when he said it. Tyreese stands by his convictions and angrily tells The Governor he never backed down and he kept pushing forward so he could help others who needed help, and tells The Governor people like him always die, but people like Tyreese do get to live in spite of the world's state. However The Governor "pushes" Tyreese to the ground while still pressing his point. After Michonne amputates Tyreese's arm, he begins to bleed out and sees The Governor and Martin belittling him once more but ultimately Tyreese stops seeing them, and dies a moral man not letting The Governor or Martin's words corrupt him in the end.

Casting and development[edit]

On television, the character is portrayed by British actor David Morrissey. Glen Mazzara, when asked about the character's direction for season 3 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]

Despite making few appearances, The Governor's daughter, Penny, 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", brushing her hair and singing to her, and tells Michonne that she does not need to suffer, implying that he believes Penny is still 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 from that of his comic book counterpart.


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. David Morrissey has been well received for his performance as the Governor, and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 39th Saturn Awards.


  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)