TWD Character Cross Section: ‘Hershel Greene’

NOTE: When I mention the Video Game, it will always be in reference to the TellTale Games The Walking Dead release.

For my first Character Cross Section I will outline Hershel Greene given the timing of this characters demise on the TV Series.  If you just watch the TV show you’ll remember Hershel mentioning a step-son named Shawn. Neither the show or the comic reveal what happened to Shawn directly BUT the video game includes this and serves as a key event in Hershel’s life leading into the comic and TV show story line.  And it is in the video game we get a glimpse of what Hershel’s character is like at the start of the virus outbreak.  We find Hershel open to taking in survivors and helping people openly. He is proud of his family and his farm despite constant lamenting his deceased wife.  His son Shawn gets attacked by a Walker, and in anger Hershel kicks the survivors off the farm including Lee and Clementine.  This event sets the tone for the Hershel in the comics and the tv show when Rick and his group get to the farm.  To watch what happens you can go here: “Death of Shawn Greene” .

Both in the comics and the video game Hershel can be blunt, gruff, head strong and often cussing.  He’s not afraid to show anger or get furious.  But will remain helpful to a point.  If things go sour Hershel can get mistrustful and resentful.  Family connection is very strong with Hershel in all 3 iterations. And we discover this when it is revealed that Hershel had placed his family members and loved ones in the barn including Shawn after they turned into Walkers rather than killing them.  His hopes were there would be a cure and he could save his family.  In the comic there is great exchange between Rick and Hershel after he tells Rick what is in the barn.  Hershel condemns Rick for killing the Walkers.  Loss and letting go are key themes in all of Hershel’s life. He loses his parents and returns to the farm – thus losing his dream of becoming a Vet. Then his wife dies and a year later Shawn.  While in the comics this embittered Hershel more and more as he continually loses everything we find Hershel in the tv show discovering inner strength and wisdom from it.  In the end, Hershel loses the farm, his home and refuge.  One thing to mention here, is that in the comics it is Dale that loses his leg not Hershel.  But in the tv show it is very symbolic since a leg can be compared to a pillar of strength and foundation. A visual example of how Hershel keeps losing everything he had and once known.

In death Hershel finds peace and redemption though vastly different in the comics and tv show.  In the comic, after losing all of his family but Maggie (now cared for by Glenn – who also makes an appearance in the video game) he cradles his son Billy as the Governor approaches and the survivors flee the prison.  He requests the Governor to end his life and the Governor obliges.  Hershel let go and gave in knowing the last of his family would be preserved. By asking the Governor to take his life he finally accepts that loss is inevitable and one must let go to God or Fate in order for life to run its course.  In the tv show Hershel comes to the same enlightenment but in a much different way.  As the Governor stands at the gates of the prison with Hershel and Michonne as prisoners Rick is faced with given up the prison.  But in Hershel’s presence Rick pleads with the Governor using Hershel’s philosophy and teachings.  Hershel knows that he has passed on something that will be preserved within Rick and smiles as the Governor takes his life.  In a way Hershel will live on within Rick like in the comic Hershel will continue within Maggie.

For me my favorite portrayal of Hershel Greene is in fact the tv show iteration.  Hershel is IMG_1878calm yet fierce with his words. He show patience and temperance but not afraid to teach or set limits or challenge. He was never crude or angrily bitter.  A perfect Sage if you will in the post-apocalyptic world.  Surely the best fan moment in my life was meeting Scott Wilson who acted as Hershel Greene and I can’t wait to meet him again next year.





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