Clementine (The Walking Dead)
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.
|The Walking Dead series character|
Clementine, as depicted in The Walking Dead: The Final Season
|First appearance||"A New Day" (2012)|
|Last appearance||"Take Us Back" (2019)|
|Created by||Sean Vanaman|
|Voiced by||Melissa Hutchison|
In the first season, Clementine is a young 8-9 year old girl living with her parents in an Atlanta suburb whose parents had left for Savannah, leaving her with a babysitter. She was forced to join a group of survivors in an effort to find safety in midst of a zombie apocalypse. Through the story, Clementine develops a strong bond with Lee Everett, a former university professor and convict who becomes a parental figure to her. 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 guardian of Alvin Jr. (known in the game as AJ), after his parents die. 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 creationEdit
Clementine first appeared in the 2012 episodic 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 OneEdit
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 apocalypse. 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 Kenny "Duck" Jr. 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 kill herself. Lee starts to help Clementine learn survival skills such as how to use a gun and why she needs to keep her hair short. 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 is lost during an attack by walkers, while Lee ends up separated from Omid and Christa. Lee goes to the hotel to find Clementine held hostage by a man who blames Lee for his family's death. They work together to kill the man and escape. 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 a 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 (a choice left to the player). Later, Clementine has safely left the city, and she sees two figures on the horizon who notice her.
The Walking Dead: Season TwoEdit
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 William 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 or Kenny 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, causing her to faint. 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 FrontierEdit
Clementine is one of the two playable characters in the third season of the series A New Frontier. 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 SeasonEdit
The Final Season is the closure of Clementine's narrative arc in the 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 Marlon, the leader of a group of children from the abandoned Ericson boarding school. Clementine uses her time in the school to help AJ acclimate to social skills, 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, twin sisters Minerva and Sophie, 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. After Marlon kills Brody and Clementine puts 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 shot and killed by AJ.
The other kids vote for Clementine and AJ to leave the school, where in its outskirts they run into the raiders, one of them being Lilly, an old acquaintance of Clementine who was forced out of their survivor group by Lee and Kenny. Lilly 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 with the help of James, a former member of the Whisperers, although AJ is gravely wounded by gun shrapnel. 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.
Clementine interrogates a captured raider, called Abel, and learns that his group has set up base on a riverboat west of the school. She scouts the place and decides that in order to sneak in and rescue the captured kids undetected, a horde of walkers need to be lured in to distract the raiders. Clementine enlists the help of James to do this, and obtains a bomb made by Willy to destroy the boat after they rescue the others. Clementine and her group head out for the boat and she, AJ, and Violet/Louis infiltrate it when James draws the walkers towards it. Inside, they plant the bomb in the ship's boiler and encounter Minerva, now loyal to the raiders. She captures them and locks them in with the other children. Clementine is confronted by Lilly, who reveals that Minerva killed Sophie when she tried to escape from their group. Lilly takes AJ away, and Clementine subdues Minerva and frees the kids. She fights and defeats Lilly, and is forced to tell AJ to shoot Lilly or spare her life, the latter choice resulting in Lilly killing James. As this happens, the bomb goes off and the boat explodes.
Clementine and AJ escape the ship before it sinks. If Lilly was spared, she flees on a raft while the other raiders, except Minerva, are killed. Clementine, AJ, and Tenn escape from the walker horde to a cave where they reunite with James if he survived. James berates and fights Clementine for letting AJ kill Lilly, then splits from the group. Leaving the cave, the three find Violet/Louis and make their way back to the school. They reach a bridge, but are attacked by Minerva, who heavily wounds Clementine's left leg before being killed. Clementine and AJ cross the bridge, and are forced to leave Tenn, Violet, or Louis to die to escape the walkers. Clementine is bitten by a walker on her wounded leg, and she and AJ take shelter inside a barn. Surrounded by walkers, Clementine tells AJ to make his way out through the roof, but not before asking him to kill her to prevent re-animation or leave her behind to turn. In the game's ending, it is revealed that Clementine survived the bite after AJ amputated her infected leg. She is also shown to have assumed leadership of Ericson, finally having found a home.
The character has been 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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