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- "It's all about faith, honey. My faith ain't never been stronger."
- —Hershel to Maggie.[src]
Hershel Greene is a main character first encountered in Issue 10 of Image Comics' The Walking Dead and is the father of Maggie, Billy, Shawn, Lacey, Arnold, and the twins Rachel and Susie. He is a relatively fit man for his age.
Characteristics and Role
Despite his grumpy and cold demeanor, for a significant amount of time, he ultimately served as the moral center of the survivors, being quick to help people whenever they were in need, spreading his influence of hope/reassurance and wanting nothing, but, the best for most of the people around him.
Whilst giving off an outwardly stern and cold appearance, he was a gentle man at heart, as he loved his family and nature; he only ever wanted the best for everyone close to him. He became a deeply religious man after the passing of his wife, and it's shown that his main and only reason for life since his her passing was the protection and survival of his children.
Hershel grew up at the farm and because of his love of the animals around him, aspired to be a veterinarian, which he later went to college for out in the city. He ended up staying in the city where he met the girl of his dreams, whom he later married and had seven children with. The two of them started up a business together, with his wife handling the financial end while he would be handling the physical end (caring for the animals and performing on them).
After his wife had passed, he had desperately tried to hold onto life by forcing himself to become increasingly more religious, and yet even despite this, he remained an emotional wreck, being convinced that his life now was empty even with his sons and daughters by his side. The business that they had operated soon fell apart despite his best efforts to keep it alive. Soon after, he began to take into consideration his father's last wishes, which were to look after the farm and tend to what needed to be done on a daily basis. With nothing else left in his life, he had decided to follow this wish and a year after his wife's passing, moved back to this childhood home along with his children (who would help him with the various daily tasks) to start his lifestyle anew.
He and the children continued to run the farm, with the youngest continuing to attend school until they graduated, and some of the older ones attending college at one point or another - all of which he gladly paid for. They still couldn't shy away from their required tasks however, as their father didn't feel like he needed to do all of it alone. As in the past, he continued to raise all of his children under a religious household.
- Main article: Hershel Greene (Video Game)
He first meets Rick Grimes and the others for the first time when Otis, during a hunt in the woods, mistakenly shoots Carl Grimes. Due to his veterinary experience, he is able to fix Carl up (a skill which comes in handy numerous times throughout the series). He has Carl rest inside of the master bedroom (with Rick and Lori of course in the same room) and provides everyone else with shelter inside the various rooms of the farmhouse.
He gradually gets to know the various survivors, most noticeably Rick, who he develops a mutual respect for, as they discuss their hardships and having the responsibility of looking after people even though they themselves had enough to deal with already. He was generally very friendly around the group for the first couple of days of their stay, if not a little grumpy here and there due to the stress he was facing. He allowed everyone to do things such as gun target practice, using the extra guns that he had lying around.
Things take a turn for the worse, however, one day when Rick discovered that he had been keeping zombies inside of the barn and confronts Hershel about the dangers of doing such a thing. Hershel is appalled that Rick and the others had been killing the zombies they encountered and argued his belief that it is a disease with the possibility of a cure being discovered. Hershel wants to show Rick his humane method of dealing with zombies, so he captures a roamer that had been slowly approaching them while his children distract the others already captured in the barn. It backfires, and the barn zombies escape, attacking the survivors. Arnold and Lacey are bitten, forcing Hershel to admit he was wrong and to shoot his children before they reanimate plus his already-zombified son, Shawn. The situation grew even more hostile when he caught his daughter, Maggie, having sex with Glenn. Being overly protective, he threw a fit, infuriated that she was defying both his own rules and the will of God. What she was doing was immoral, especially considering this person she engaged in sex with was a complete stranger.
This led Hershel into a downward spiral, the worst he had been since his wife's passing. His personality turned grim and his mindset was narrowly focused on getting the survivors out of the area so as not to lose any more of his children, or even his own life. A fight ensues between everyone, as he refused to let them stay after Carl was fully healed, calling them free-loaders. Lori, in a furious state, insults him about kicking them out when they had no other place to go. All of this ultimately led him to put a gun to Rick's head in order to show the rest of the group how serious he was and how much damage he could do.
The survivors, apart from Glenn, decide to leave and Hershel becomes even more emotional unstable, he convinces himself that because he was about to kill an innocent man, he therefore must be evil; not to mention a bad role model for the youngsters. He now believed himself to be a corrupt individual.
One or two days after the survivors leave, Hershel decides to cremate the corpses outside (both of his deceased children and of other zombies that were destroyed during the attack) in an open fire on his lawn. He continues to be severely depressed and wearing a blank expression on his face to hide his true feelings/vulnerability. Rick soon returns to the farm to tell everyone else about the newly discovered semi-abandoned prison that his group had taken refuge in nearby.
Even despite his resentment towards Rick for what had happened, he took into consideration the well-being of his own group and realized that his property was no longer secure. There was an increasing amount of zombies coming in to the area, and the barricade was getting increasingly weaker, which meant the farm would be more prone to more persistent attacks. He accepts Rick's proposal and follows him to the Prison, knowing full well that he wouldn't have the same control as he did previously, but, all that mattered now was survival - for his remaining children, for himself and for their neighbors.
On his arrival at the prison, he settled in fairly quickly and attempted to make the best out of the situation he was in. He realized, after much thought and observing his surroundings, how much more secure everyone was here than at the farm. This resulted in him having a small, yet influencing, revelation - it made him look at himself and his past irrational behavior; his refusal to alter this mindset he had.
During his first night there, he had a conversation with Rick on the prison stairway rails, where he sincerely thanked Rick for bringing him and his family here, where they would be safe away from the horrors of the outside world. This would be the perfect opportunity to rebuild his life; better than how he tried to rebuild it at the farm where there was even more pain than he had counted on. He confided in Rick, the overbearing stress he felt and the inner demons that led to him pointing that gun. All of this however would be past him now and wouldn't matter with the new life he'd be starting - a life without any violence, blood or fear of the undead. Instead, what he would finally have now would be peace and assurance, which was what he was looking for all along.
The next day, he goes to check on his twins Rachel and Susie, who were playing inside of one of the many halls of the prison. He comes across the prison barber shop where he finds the mangled and decapitated corpses of his twin daughters. Maggie, who was following behind him, see's their bodies as well, and they both break down into tears together. It was an even greater shock once Hershel saw their heads reanimating. Stricken with grief, he couldn't bear to shoot them, so Glenn was the one to put them out of their misery.
After everyone had discovered the murder scene, Hershel and his two remaining children were sent into a deep depression. For a long time they stayed with Hershel in his jail cell, embracing him. Hershel himself at that point came to an ultimate realization - that they weren't safe no matter where they went. The increased loss of his children over the past few days and weeks made him gradually lose his grasp on the value of life and resulted in him deciding that his only true purpose from then on was to protect Maggie and Billy from the dangers of the outside world.
Not too long after the gruesome murder of his daughters, one of the surviving inmates of the prison, Thomas Richards, is discovered to be the murderer. The group decides to hang him for his crimes and despite all that Thomas has done, Hershel tells him that he forgives him for his actions and tells Thomas that the Lord will be his judge. Hershel later witnesses Maggie gun down Thomas after the latter tries to escape from his confinement. He helps the group dispose of Thomas' body by dumping it outside of the prison walls, sorrowfully watching as it is torn to pieces by the undead.
Soon after disposing of the bodies of the undead that invaded the prison, Hershel begins to work on a crop field for the prison, wishing to grow fresh produce in order to help the prison to survive through coming months. Axel locates him doing this and tells Hershel to hurry up, which causes Hershel to glare angrily at him. Axel pleads with Hershel not to treat him like the other inmates, saying he is nothing like they were, but Hershel continues to just stare angrily back at Axel, causing the latter to become annoyed and walk away.
Hershel uses his medical skills to help Allen after he is bitten and his leg severed by Rick. He cuts off some of Axel's hair and uses it to cauterize the wound, berating Rick for his sloppy job in amputating Allen's leg. After treating Allen's wound to the best of his ability, Hershel talks to Maggie once she arrives back at her cell, telling her he knows that she has been sneaking off to have sex with Glenn. Hershel tells her that while what she is doing is a sin, he acknowledges that they need to sin to survive in a world inhabited with the undead and tells her that he will just have to deal with her activities to Glenn, but asks her not to get herself killed before wishing her goodnight.
Hershel soon enlists both Billy and Axel to help him with the growing of crops at the prison. Despite the earlier tensions between them, Hershel praises Axel on his work, telling him that he has gotten much better with crop growing over the time he has spent learning the ropes. Axel asks Hershel if he ever thinks about the undead watching them through the prison fences much, to which Hershel responds by telling him that he prefers not to think about it.
Hershel later patches up Carol's wrists after a failed suicide attempt by the latter. Soon after Rick's fight with Tyreese and Allen's passing, Hershel is named one of four co-leaders of the group, along with Rick, Tyreese, and Dale.
Once Rick, Glenn, and Michonne disappear after investigating a crashing helicopter near the prison, Hershel is visited in his cell at night by Maggie. His daughter asks him if she could sleep next to him for the night, obviously needed comfort with Glenn's disappearance, to which Hershel agrees to wholeheartedly.
Days later, with Rick, Glenn, and Michonne still missing, Hershel and a few other members of the group attempt to get the prison's generator working to restore power to the facility. Hershel declares that they will have a group vote soon on if they want to use the gas up on the generator at the present moment or wait until a later date. Maggie asks Hershel if they can watch a movie when the power is turned on, to which he tells her that if everyone can vote on it, they will have themselves a theatre night.
After Tyreese arrives back at the prison from searching for Rick, Glenn, and Michonne, Hershel assists the rest of the group in trying to get the prison gates closed. However, they are quickly outnumbered by the undead and are forced to retreat inside the prison as a result.
Upon Rick, Glenn, Michonne's re-arrivals at the prison, alongside two new survivors, Alice Warren and Caeser Martinez, it is initially believed that Hershel had been bitten by a roamer, but, it is shown that he got scratched from friendly fire. Hershel later joins numerous other survivors in helping to clear out the prison courtyard of the invading undead, burning the bodies after successfully managing to re-secure the courtyard.
Hershel is later confronted by Glenn, who shows him a wedding ring he has picked for Maggie. Without any second thought, Hershel gives Glenn his approval to marry Maggie, asking him to keep her happy and safe, also asking him not to get her pregnant until the zombie threat becomes more manageable.
Hershel is later seen participating in a group meeting called by Rick, who informs the group of his, Glenn, and Michonne's capture and subsequent torture at the hands of Woodbury and its leader, The Governor. Rick informs Hershel and the others that when Woodbury eventually decides to attack, they must be ready for them.
Long after Rick's arrival back from Woodbury, Hershel marries Maggie and Glenn in the prison's cafeteria as an unofficial priest. Hershel is also seen continually working on his garden, managing to successfully grow a variety of vegetables. Patricia confronts him one day about this, having not noticed his garden despite her months of living at the prison. Hershel, feeling slightly insulted by this, spitefully asks her what she has come to waste his time with by starting conversation with him. Noticing his comment upset her, Hershel apologizes, remembering that Patricia was hit hard by Otis death during the zombie invasion. Patricia tells him that she does not just miss Otis, but misses all that have died over the course of the zombie outbreak, something Hershel agrees with her on wholeheartedly.
Hershel later helps Alice deliver Lori's baby, Judith Grimes, and helps amputate/cauterize Dale's leg after it is bitten after mis-communication between Dale and Billy outside of the prison while they were scavenging for gas. Later, Hershel is seen once again working on his garden alongside Billy and Axel. During this time Hershel berates Billy for trivializing 'Hell', telling his son that although the zombie apocalypse may be bad, it is nothing compared to the Lake of Fire.
As the passing weeks went by with little action, Hershel and some of the other survivors began training with guns to increase their skill with them, hoping to further prepare themselves in case Woodbury were to attack. Hershel openly stated that he hadn't used a gun in several years so his aim was a little off, wanting to make sure he could still use a rifle correctly. He quickly got back the hang of it, however, much to Andrea's surprise when she took them out to shoot zombies.
Hershel is later seen attending Carol's funeral after she decided to offer herself to a zombie. After much time of hard labor working on his garden, Hershel finally begins to harvest the vegetables being grown there, offering one to Rick to taste. However, his celebration is cut short once he notices a large fleet of vehicles heading towards the prison, which turn out to be the forces of Woodbury led by The Governor.
As the forces of Woodbury open fire on the prison, Hershel is one of the many members of the prison group to be caught in the crossfire, desperately keeping his head down in fear for his life and the lives of his children. The Governor offers Hershel and the others a chance to surrender, but they stick their ground as Andrea begins a counterattack on the Woodbury forces.
After the Woodbury forces retreat from the prison, having suffered too many casualties, Hershel helps Alice treat the wounds of Rick, Andrea, and Axel, who were all shot during the battle. Hershel is later seen saying a tearful goodbye to Maggie and Glenn, who decided to leave the prison along with Dale, Andrea, Billy and Ben, wanting to make sure they were safe when the Woodbury forces returned to do battle. After Maggie departs from the prison, Hershel grimly admits to Billy that he feels like he has just seen Maggie for the last time.
While Rick recovers from his wounds, Hershel, along with Billy and Axel, orgainise a defensive plan against the Woodbury forces. The three push a group of cars up against the prison fences, stashing boxes full of grenades behind each one, also moving an ammo cache behind the the center most car. Hershel and Billy are later seen in the prison's armory, both suiting up in riot gear to prepare themselves for the coming Woodbury attack. Billy asks his father if the Lord is there for him, to which Hershel tells him that he put in a good word for Billy during his prayers, the two embracing shortly after admitting they are both scared of what's coming.
Hershel is among those to witness The Governor offering the prison group on final chance of surrender, using a captured Tyreese as a bargaining chip. Despite the life of their friend hanging in the balance, Hershel and the prison group do not give in to The Governor's demands. Frustrated over their lack of cooperation, The Governor uses Michonne's katana to gruesomely behead Tyreese as Hershel and the other members of the prison group are forced to watch in horror.
As the final battle against the Woodbury forces begins, Axel is quickly gunned down, but Hershel and the other members of the group manage to successfully hold the Woodbury forces at bay. The Governor, however, giving up on trying to take the prison for himself, drives a tank through the prison's fences. After watching Patricia get gunned down, Hershel and Billy make one last desperate attempt to try and escape from the prison, now crawling with Woodbury soldiers and zombies alike. At the last moment, Billy is shot through the head, Hershel collapsing in grief after watching this. Not long after, The Governor approaches him, Hershel begging him to end his life, to which The Governor obliges by shooting Hershel through the head.
- Brian Blake
- Himself (Caused)
After his last son, Billy, is killed while fleeing the prison, he finally gave up on life, seeing that his only other child, Maggie, was well taken care of now and wouldn't need him to protect her. He remained, cradling Billy's body, weeping and ignored Rick's call to hurry and join the other survivors, as they had a chance to make it to the truck. He is approached by The Governor, with his last words being, "Dear God, just kill me", before letting The Governor to shoot him in the head. Hershel's limp body falls next to Billy's.
Hershel is mentioned a few times, mostly by Maggie during her grieving stage. Later on, when discussing Paul Monroe's nickname with Earl Sutton, she remarks that "her father wouldn't have been a fan".
After the events of All Out War, Maggie gives birth to a baby boy, whom she names Hershel, in homage to her late father.
This list shows the victims Hershel has killed:
- Shawn Greene (Zombified)
- Arnold Greene (Before Reanimation)
- Lacey Greene (Before Reanimation)
- Himself (Directly Caused)
- Numerous counts of zombies and at least one Woodbury survivor.
- Mentioned in Letter Hacks, Hershel was originally the one who was about to lose a leg after going to the Prison generator room. Writer Robert Kirkman thought Hershel had lost most of his children and that was tragic enough for him, so he decided Allen would be the one to lose the leg. Ironically, his TV Series counterpart still lost a leg anyways
- Hershel is one of only two characters to have appeared in every form of Walking Dead media, having appeared in the Comic Series, TV Series, Social Game, Video Game, and Novels. The other is Glenn.
- Hershel is one of the five characters from either the comics and/or TV series who made an appearance in the Video Game, the four others so far being Michonne, Shawn, Pete, and Glenn.