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 and developed by Telltale Games. An original character developed by Telltale for the video game series, she is one of the series' protagonists and playable characters. She is voiced by Melissa Hutchison and was written by several people, including Gary Whitta.
Clementine is introduced in the first season as a young girl, left in care of a babysitter with her parents out of town, at the start of the zombie apocalypse. She is found and cared for by Lee Everett, another survivor, who tries to help her find her parents, and becomes a father-figure to her, teaching her how to survive. Lee is eventually bitten, and after a tearful goodbye, Clementine travels with other groups. Over several years, she becomes a guardian to Alvin Jr., a child whose parents died in the apocalypse, and comes to raise him as Lee did with her.
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. Following Telltale's sudden closure in the midst of releasing , Kirkman acquired the game's assets and brought some of the Telltale staff on to finish the season within his company Skybound Entertainment, as he felt it was necessary to give closure to Clementine's story.

Concept and creation

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 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.
Telltale had intended for to be their final game featuring Clementine. As they were in the midst of developing and releasing this season, the studio suffered from a major financial crisis, forcing them to lay off nearly all of their staff and shutter existing projects. On this news, Robert Kirkman and others at Skybound Entertainment considered how they could finish the game, as Kirkman felt it was necessary to complete Clementine's story. Skybound brought in a portion of the former Telltale staff that had been working on The Final Season to complete the remaining episodes. In the one-shot spin-off "Negan Lives" comic published in July 2020, Kirkman ended the comic with a letter to the series fans, closing it with "P.S. Clementine Lives", which was taken as a hint that Kirkman may be involved with a means of re-introducing Clementine to The Walking Dead world.


''The Walking Dead: Season One''

Clementine is introduced when Lee Everett takes shelter in her suburban home in Georgia to find refuge from zombies. 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. Lee offers to take and protect Clementine, 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 a walker attack, while Lee ends up separated from Omid and Christa. Lee goes to the hotel to find Clementine held hostage by an insane 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, 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. Later, Clementine has safely left the city, and she sees two figures on the horizon who notice her.

''The Walking Dead: Season Two''

Season Two starts some months after the end of the first season. Clementine has regrouped 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 Clementine joins another group of survivors living in a cabin. She learns that this group is being tracked by a man named William Carver, who believes that one member of the group, Rebecca, is carrying his child.
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 finds Kenny alive. 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. Seeing Carver's ruthlessness leads three other survivors, Jane, Mike, and Bonnie, to join Clementine and the others in plotting an escape before the store is overrun by a mass of walkers. Clementine aids in their escape, and Kenny kills Carver.
As they flee, Kenny's girlfriend Sarita is bit by a walker and dies. When they regroup, Kenny is distraught and refuses to talk to anyone, but he is convinced 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. The group continues northward despite Rebecca's worsening health. They are ambushed by a group of Russian immigrants, 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 the group manages to kill the other Russians, and they force the sole Russian survivor, named Arvo, to take them to shelter. As they cross a frozen lake, their added weight causes the ice to break and one of their members, Luke, to fall through and drown.
Later that evening, Clementine discovers Arvo and others attempting to sneak away, due to being afraid of Kenny's rage, 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, 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, causing Kenny to attack her. 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 and convince Clementine to abandon him with her. 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.

''The Walking Dead: A New Frontier''

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 the second season, where several events have occurred to her depending of which ending the player chooses in it. 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 Two 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 walkers as Clementine and AJ flee from the crash site. If Clementine had gone with Jane, she lives with her at the department store until Jane commits suicide after finding out she is 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 Season''

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 get to know the other children while helping them for sustainability and protection. Eventually, Clementine finds out that Marlon traded two of the school's residents, 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. Clementine pressures Marlon to reveal the truth to the other kids, only for him to be shot and killed by AJ.
Some of 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 from their survivor group in the first season. Lilly threatens Clementine to return to the school and convince the rest of the children to join her group. Clementine and AJ escape with the help of James, a former member of the Whisperers, although AJ is shot and wounded. 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, the raiders arrive. Despite the children's efforts to fight back, the raiders manage to kidnap some of them.
Clementine interrogates a captured raider 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 homemade bomb to destroy the boat after they rescue the others. Clementine and her group head out for the boat and 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 imprisons them with the other children and 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 her 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. Clementine, AJ, and Tenn escape from the walker horde and find either Violet or Louis, who helps them make their way back to the school. They reach a bridge, but are attacked by a dying Minerva, who wounds Clementine's left leg. 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, and 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 Informers Kimberley Wallace describes the character of Clementine as having "broken through the barrier , 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 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. "... 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". Polygon included her and Lee as one of the 70 best video game characters of the 2010s with the publication's Colin Campbell writing, Lee is an escaped convict in the midst of a zombie outbreak who finds himself caring for a frightened, vulnerable girl called Clementine. Later seasons show Clementine’s debt to Lee, and the lessons she learned from her redoubtable mentor. These are characters who are genuinely loved by their many fans.
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 Hutchison as Clementine was nominated for and won the award for "Best Performance By a Human Female" at the 2012 Spike TV Video Game Awards. Hutchison's performance has also been nominated in the "Performance" category for the 2013 British Academy Video Games Awards.