The Walking Dead: The Game is an episodic series by Telltale Games that began in 2012. As in Jurassic Park: The Game, you guide your character in an adventure game setting through a relatively linear series of events dotted with minor gameplay puzzles and a few quick time events. Unlike Jurassic Park, it has also gained a reputation as one of the most well-written and emotionally wrenching games of its time due to its Grey-and-Gray Morality, sadistic choices, and absolutely brutal player punches.
The game takes place in the same universe as the comic, but begins within hours of the outbreak this time, instead of weeks afterwards.
At the outset of Season One, Lee Everett is a prisoner handcuffed in the back of a police car traveling down a highway in Georgia when an accident involving a weird shambling man on the road gets him loose. Shortly afterward, he meets a young girl named Clementine, and the pair have to work with others to survive, all while hoping Lee's Dark and Troubled Past doesn't cause everyone to hate him, shun him, or worse, feed him to the zombies.
In between seasons One and Two is a DLC episode entitled 400 Days: an anthology special which focuses on different individuals and their own stories as they cope with the zombie outbreak at various points over a slightly longer than one year period.
Season Two follows Clementine on her own, over two years into the zombie apocalypse. Slightly older and a lot wiser, she must survive in a world where adults still view her as a kid and may look to take advantage of her.
A mini-series titled The Walking Dead: Michonne was was released between seasons 2 and 3. It follows the eponymous Michonne from the comic series, and what she did between issues #126 and #139.
Season Three, given the unique name A New Frontier, follows Javier Garcia, a former pro baseball player who teams up with the now-thirteen year old Clementine to protect his family from a ruthless group known as the New Frontier.
Season Four, also given a name (The Final Season) released the first episode on August 14, 2018. Now sixteen years old, Clementine is once again the main character and Telltale has said this will be the end of her story, as she tries to keep her adopted son A.J. safe. Unfortunately, on September 21st 2018, Telltale laid off the majority of their employees, including the Walking Dead team, leaving the future of The Final Season uncertain. Fortunately, on October 6 2018 it was announced that Robert Kirkman's company Skybound would work with members of the original team to release the final 2 episodes.
Going along with the theme of the franchise, while the zombies are always a threat, the real issue is the remnants of humanity, and the forging and maintaining of relationships with other survivors. Almost all of your actions will have consequences in how people perceive you, and it will be up to you as to how helpful you'll be, and whom you'll help.
- The Walking Dead: Season One: the trope page for Season One.
- The Walking Dead: Season Two: the trope page for 400 Days, Season Two, and Michonne.
- The Walking Dead: Season Three: the trope page for A New Frontier.
- The Walking Dead: Season Four: the trope page for The Final Season.
Dedicated Shout-Out page here.
See here for characters page.
Other video games based on The Walking Dead include:
- The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct: the second Walking Dead game, which acts as a prequel to the TV series.
- Overkill's: The Walking Dead: A First-Person Shooter from PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2 developer Overkill Software.
- The Escapists: The Walking Dead: A standalone spin-off of prison break strategy game The Escapists, broadly following the story of the comic books.
- The Walking Dead (Arcade): A 2017 Rail Shooter arcade. Like Survival Instinct, it's based on the TV show.
- The Walking Dead Onslaught: A VR game
The series provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion:
- Kenny has a strained relationship with Larry. Much like how both actors' characters (Giles and Franklin) had a strained relationship in Law & Order: Legacies.
- Michael Madsen's character has a problem with executing hostages.
- Perhaps an accidental one, but Nikki Rapp plays a Deadpan Snarker named Lily...just like her role as Little Miss Snarker Lili in Psychonauts. Becomes Rule of Three in Campo Santo's Firewatch, where she plays yet another Lily.
- Cain and Abel: A prevalent theme of the last two seasons. New Frontier has the Garcia brothers with David being a selfish, reckless and controlling Jerkass who's the leader of the antagonistic faction while Javier is, at worst, violent. David even tries to kill Javier in From The Gallows. The Final Season has Minerva and Sophie.
- A character literally named Abel makes an appearance from a faction whos running theme is Fratricide. He smokes cigarettes made from bible passages.
- Censored Child Death: Certain instances where the player gets a game over due to the death of a particularly young main character (namely Clementine in Season 1 and AJ in Season 4) are edited so we don't see them directly.
- Central Theme: "Family", "trust" and "home" being the main themes of the story.
- Death of a Child: Not even children are spared from the horrors of the apocalypse and we do get to see many of them getting killed on-screen. Even the Non Standard Game Overs related to Clementine stop being censored from Season 2 onwards.
- Failure Is the Only Option: There are some situations in which the results are the same regardless of the player's decision. An example is in the first episode in which Shawn Greene dies whether Lee chose to save him or Duck while the latter manages to escape unharmed.
- Hammerspace: The player characters have a worrying habit of storing large objects seemingly up their ass:
- Lee from season 1 is capable of somehow storing a car battery in his jean pocket; at least we think.
- Clementine in season 2 (age 11) is capable of storing large cans of baked beans, hunting knives, radios and pistols in her back pocket but at least she has a tiny backpack for most of the season.
- Javi in season 3 is a slight improvement from the previous two games, having an actual backpack to store items in…… however this backpack is still comically small for all the items he needs to store inside.
- In the first episode of season four, Clem (age 16) carries around a small backpack that is somehow capable of storing a deer skull. Even after losing the bag, she can still put a boar skull into her pocket and later pulls out a bow with arrows (without a quiver) out of thin air (which she in game technically has limitless amounts of).
- Happy Ending Override: The series supposedly ends with Clementine finally finding a place to settle down after years of running and losing people she cares about. Skybound would release a series of graphic novels taking place after the game showing Clementine, unsatisfied with her new peaceful life and believing she is holding everyone back, leaves to find a new meaning to her life.
- The Hero: Clementine is the main protagonist of the series, being the only character to appear in all four seasons, and having major focus throughout each season, though she is merely the deuteragonist in the first and third seasons.
- Hero of Another Story: The video game series shies away from Rick Grimes' group (with the exception of Michonne for her miniseries; and guest appearences by Glenn and Herschel in Season One and Jesus in A New Frontier), instead focusing on another group of survivors from Georgia, namely Clementine.
- Humans Are Bastards: Like in the comic and TV series, the apocalypse brings out the worst in people, turning them into murderers, cannibals, or ruthless dictators.
- Improperly Placed Firearms: Despite being set in America, the most prevalent assault rifle that's being used is the Russian AK-47 since the creators probably didn't want to get sued by Colt's Manufacturing Company (They own the registered trademark to the AR-15).
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Lee and Clementine's parents death to those who skip the first season.
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to the TV series and comics, the gore in the video game has been toned down significantly especially in later seasons. In fact, there are practically no humans who are decapitated at all in the entire series.
- Life-or-Limb Decision: As in the source material, this is the only way to survive a walker bite, and it has to be done before the infection can spread. And the chance of dying anyway from blood loss or shock is very high. Lee can choose to try this in Episode 5, but it's far too late, and he only manages to hang on long enough to save Clementine from the Stranger. One of the few people who actually pulled this off is Reggie, a minor character from Season 2, and he only survived because he could get treatment right afterwards.
- The Load: Each season has a character who is either practically useless or causes problems to others:
- Season 1 has Ben.
- Season 2 has Nick and Sarah.
- A New Frontier has Gabriel.
- The Final Season has Tennessee. However, he's smarter and nicer than previous examples.
- The Main Characters Do Everything: No matter who the player character is, even if she is an eleven year old girl, they always have to figure out how to solve the group's current situation. Clem even lampshades this in season two. It becomes hilarious in season 3 when Clementine prefers to let Javi do all the work.
- The Medic:
- Season 1 has Katja and later, Vernon.
- Season 2 has Carlos.
- New Frontier has Paul Lingard and Eleanor.
- The Final Season has Ruby.
- Mooks, but no Bosses: The player generally only fights zombies and human bandits. There are only a few situations that approximate boss fights.
- Seasone One has two Arc Villains who have to be taken out in quick-time events; Andrew St. John and the Stranger.
- William Carver is an almost pure Cutscene Boss in Season Two; all the player has to do is kick or shoot him from behind so that Luke can disarm him and Kenny can beat him to death.
- Clementine fights Lilly in Season Four, where she has to incapacitate her with a knife before deciding whether or not AJ shoots her.
- Motif: Adopted children are a major recurring subject throughout the series.
- In season one, Lee effectively adopts Clementine as his daughter.
- In season two, Kenny quickly becomes interested in treating AJ as his own son, which causes some strife. In one possible ending, Kenny plans to raise Clementine and AJ as his adopted kids. In another possible ending, Clementine resolves to raise AJ and has his name tattooed on her hand. She also encounter a husband and wife with a boy who is clearly not their biological son.
- In season three, Javi takes charge of raising his niece and nephew alongside their step mother, which causes strife when their father comes back into the picture.
- Season four's main dramatic thrust is Clementine's struggle to raise AJ correctly as his adopted guardian. She also encounters Tenn, a boy from an adopted family. The hold that Tenn's adopted sister has over him becomes critical in the final scenes of the series.
- "Not So Different" Remark: In "In Harm's Way," Carver claims that, deep down inside, Clem is just as barbaric as he is.
- Not Using the "Z" Word: The word "zombie" is only mentioned twice but will often pop up during choices. Like in the comics and TV series, the most common term used on the undead are walkers. Others include geeks, muertos and monsters.
- Mad Bomber: Mitch was sent to Ericson's Boarding school due to his habit of making explosives and detonating them in random areas when he was 8 years old.
- Once Done, Never Forgotten: Lee will make fun of Carley at several points for the time that she couldn't get a radio to work... because she put the batteries in backwards.
- Once per Episode:
- There's a car crash in every season with three of them taking place in the first episode.
- Characters covering themselves in walker blood to walk pass a herd.
- Running Gag: The playable character sure finds themselves tripping or losing conscious a lot, with Lee tripping at least five times in the first episode alone.
- Sadistic Choice: The game often puts the player in a situation where you must decide which character to save. Whichever character you didn't save will die, hate you or be traumatized.
- Same Race Means Related: Lampshaded and played with: Everyone assumes that Lee is Clementine's father, partially because they're the only two black people in their group of survivors and partially because Lee does actually look after Clem while they look for her missing parents. The only character who says that they don't look related at all is Christa, the only other black character who joins the group in episode four.
- Invoked in that Lee and Clementine weren't initially envisioned as the same race, but this was changed specifically so other characters would make this connection.
- In later seasons, a lot of characters assume Clementine is AJ's mother despite them only being 12 years apart in age completely biologically unrelated, presumably with this trope as a contributing factor.
- Series Mascot: Clementine's iconic hat is treated as such, with the last scene of the game being a close up of it.
- Shared Universe: The game takes place in the same continuity as the comic series.
- Time Skip:
- Season 1 Episode 2 takes place three months after the previous, Episode 3 a few weeks, Episode 4 a few hours while Episode 5 immediately.
- Season 2 takes place a few months (possibly at least 8 months judging on Christa's pregnancy) after the end of the previous 1 and immediately skip another 16 months after the prologue.
- Season 3 and Season 4 take place 3 years after the previous.
- Sparing Them the Dirty Work: In chapter 3, "Long Road Ahead", Kenny's son Duck is bitten by a walker and has to be dealt with before he can reanimate and becomes a threat to the rest of the group. One of the ways the protagonist Lee can resolve the problem is to offer to shoot Duck instead so Kenny doesn't have to.
- The Unreveal: Like the comic book and TV series, the cause of the zombie apocalypse is never revealed - one day in the early autumn of 2003, anyone who died with their brain intact just rose again as undead, cannibalistic monsters, with no hint to how or why, and that's been life ever since.
- Walking Spoiler: Lee's death at the end of season 1 is a huge one to those who play the later seasons first.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: As with the comic and tv series, there are many survivors whose final fate are unknown, notably, Christa, Mike and many characters introduced in 400 Days.
- Would Hurt a Child: Many of the antagonists have no qualms in killing children in the series.
- Zerg Rush: As early as Season 1, Episode 3, less than a year into the apocalypse, the walkers have begun to wander out of the cities and form into large hordes that present massive obstacles to survivors.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Takes place in the same zombie apocalypse as The Walking Dead comic series.