|The Walking Dead character|
Lee, as depicted in The Walking Dead
|First appearance||"A New Day" (2012)|
|Last appearance||"Broken Toys" (2019)|
|Created by||Sean Vanaman|
|Voiced by||Dave Fennoy|
|Children||Clementine (surrogate daughter)|
Lee Everett is the playable protagonist in the first season of The Walking Dead video game series. Tasked with protecting a girl named Clementine in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, Lee allies with several other characters and groups. When creating Lee, the developers attempted to achieve realism, with a strong emphasis on him being a parental figure to Clementine. He is voiced by Dave Fennoy, an American voice actor. He received positive reception for his role in the game, specifically the voice work and the writing. Fennoy was nominated for Best Performance by a Human Male at the Spike VGA.
Prior to the events of the game, Lee, a native of Macon, was a professor of history at the University of Georgia. One day at work, he fell ill and came home to find his wife sleeping with another man, a state senator, after constant fighting with his wife for travelling often for her job. In a fit of rage, Lee killed him; he was subsequently tried and convicted for murder, long since coming to regret his actions. His crime also distanced him from his parents and brother.
The onset of the zombie apocalypse occurs as Lee is being taken to prison; when the car transporting him crashes into a zombie, he manages to escape, but he quickly realizes the dire situation he is in. He takes shelter in a nearby suburban home, where he finds young Clementine who has been hiding from the zombies as her parents had left for Savannah some time before the apocalypse. Recognizing that Clementine would remain in danger, he offers to take and protect her, hoping that they will be able to find her parents. He eventually goes with her to the Hershel Greene farm, where they meet a fisherman named Kenny, his wife, Katjaa, and son, Duck. After an accident with walkers claims the life of Hershel's son, Shawn, the five are thrown out and eventually meet with other survivors, and form a small group, though Lee remains subdued about his history. After discovering the fate of his own family in Macon, Lee takes on more of a role of a father figure to Clementine.
After having holed up in a motel for three months with dwindling supplies, the group meets the St. John family, who invite them to dinner at their family dairy. The group agrees to send out a delegation to the St. Johns' farmstead to see if they are trustworthy; however, Lee discovers that the St. Johns have engaged in cannibalism and that they plan to kill and eat his group as well. After surviving the St. Johns, the group is forced to flee the motel from bandits and head to Savannah via a train. En route, 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 approach the city, Clementine's walkie-talkie goes off, revealing the voice of a man who knows of Lee's actions to this point and promises Clementine that she will be safe with him.
In Savannah, the survivors look for a boat and supplies to flee the mainland. They encounter more survivors, including a doctor called Vernon and a young woman called Molly. With their help, they are able to prepare the boat for their journey. Vernon departs, but remarks that he believes Lee to be an unsuitable guardian for Clementine. The next morning, Lee wakes to find Clementine gone, and while searching for her, he is surprised by a zombie and bitten. With what little time he has, Lee and the other survivors agree to look for Clementine, at first believing her to have been taken by Vernon. Instead, the man on the walkie-talkie reveals that he has kidnapped Clementine, and is at the hotel that her parents would have been at. After entering the now-abandoned safehouse of Vernon's group, Lee is given the option of amputating his bitten arm. Either way, Lee and the group are able to escape from the hospital where they make their way back to the house, but find that the boat has been stolen by Vernon and his group. Shortly after the house is overrun with walkers but the group escape into the attic, where they eventually find a way out. Casualties arise while making their way to the hotel, and Lee is separated from Omid and Christa. Barely hanging onto consciousness, Lee makes it to the hotel and meets Clementine's captor, who explains that Lee's group had previously stole provisions from his family's car, which ultimately led to the death of his wife and children, and goes to question Lee's other decisions and, regardless of whether or not he had joined in taking the provisions from the car, ultimately berates him and plans to kill him and look after Clementine as his own. Lee gets Clementine's help to subdue and kill the man. They make it out of the hotel where they discover Clementine's zombified parents before Lee passes out.
When Lee awakens, he is out of strength and barely able to keep conscious, but finds Clementine has dragged him to safety. With his time short, Lee helps Clementine secure keys and a gun to escape the city, and tells her to find Omid and Christa. The player can choose to have Lee instruct Clementine to either shoot him to prevent his re-animation or do nothing and leave him to become a walker (a choice left to the player).
Lee appears in a dream that Clementine has after falling unconscious from being shot during the events of the final episode of Season Two. The dream flashbacks to the time the group has fled the motel after Lilly killed Carley/Doug, and Clementine recalls the advice that Lee gave her about learning to survive and cope in this new reality, considerations that she has to keep in mind once she regains consciousness.
Lee appears in another dream during the events of the third episode of The Final Season, with Clementine dreaming of their time on the train to Savannah. Lee helps Clementine gain the confidence she needs to lead an attack on a group of raiders, led by Lilly, to rescue her friends.
Concept and creation
Lee first appeared in the 2012 episodic video game The Walking Dead as the playable character. He is voiced by Dave Fennoy, and was written by multiple people, including Gary Whitta in the fourth episode. Fennoy received an audition in an email, and after completing it, he received a call confirming that he got the role. The audition asked for actors to portray him in a "very real" fashion, which is a part of Lee's design that attracted Fennoy. He called Lee "complicated", due to his criminal history, his concern for keeping Clementine safe, and the fact that he associates with people that he may not have had it not been for the zombie outbreak. He added that him having a child of his own helped him relate to Lee and Clementine's relationship. Whitta described their relationship as "emotionally authentic". Dan Connors, CEO of Telltale Games, compared Lee to Rick Grimes, the protagonist of The Walking Dead comics and TV series. He called him both tough and smart, while also caring. He also called him a "reflection of the player's choices". Telltale designer and writer Harrison G. Pink commented that it was important to make everything Lee would say believable, and that Lee is a "human being" with "real needs and real fears and real desires". While they wanted to allow players to choose what Lee says, all options are things that Lee would realistically say.
Lee was acclaimed by critics and fans. IGN's Colin Campbell wrote an article detailing why Lee "really matters". He explains that the reason why the game is so good is because Lee has a lot of great qualities, such as being nice and modest about his abilities. He goes on to describe him as an "everyman". Fellow IGN writer Greg Miller also cited Lee for why he enjoys the game; he wrote that he felt he was actually involved in Lee's development. Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton writes that he is more interested in seeing Lee grow than Rick Grimes, the protagonist of The Walking Dead comics and TV series. Rock Paper Shotgun's John Walker wrote that Lee was an everyman character in zombie fiction. The Daily Telegraph's Emily Richardson felt that the characters drove the story, and cited Lee and his "mysterious and complex" character design as a notable example. GamesRadar staff named Lee the 84th-best video game hero. They cited his bravery and devotion to Clementine for his inclusion. Dave Fennoy received praise for his portrayal of Lee, such as by Alan Danzis of the New York Post. Fennoy was nominated for the "Best Performance by a Human Male" award at the 2012 Spike TV Video Game Awards, and for the "Performance" category at the 2013 British Academy Video Games Awards. Lee's character won the "Outstanding Character Performance" at the 2013 D.I.C.E. Summit.
- Klepek, Patrick (2013-01-09). "Faces of Death, Part 5: No Time Left". Giant Bomb. http://www.giantbomb.com/news/faces-of-death-part-5-no-time-left/4512/. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- Danzis, Alan (2012-10-01). "Interview with 'The Walking Dead' video game writer Gary Whitta". New York Times. http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/gamereport/interview_with_the_walking_dead_qcln99BxLySY6Gu1Ti5GMN#axzz2CXMHGf1p. Retrieved 2012-11-17. [dead link]
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- Campbell, Colin (2012-05-08). "The Walking Dead: Why Lee Everett Really Matters". http://www.ign.com/articles/2012/05/09/the-walking-dead-why-lee-everett-really-matters. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- Miller, Greg (2012-06-05). "E3 2012: Walking Dead Episode 2 Is Way More Brutal". http://www.ign.com/articles/2012/06/06/e3-2012-walking-dead-episode-2-is-way-more-brutal. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- Hamilton, Kirk (2012-04-27). "5 Reasons The Walking Dead Game Is Better Than The TV Show". Kotaku. http://kotaku.com/5905847/5-reasons-the-walking-dead-game-is-better-than-the-tv-show. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- Walker, John (2012-04-25). "Wot I Think: The Walking Dead Episode One". Rock Paper Shotgun. http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/04/25/wot-i-think-the-walking-dead-episode-one/. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- Richardson, Emily (2012-05-18). "The Walking Dead Episode One review". The Daily Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/video-games/video-game-reviews/9274108/The-Walking-Dead-Episode-One-review.html. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- "100 best heroes in video games". GamesRadar. 2012-11-09. http://www.gamesradar.com/top-100-video-game-heroes/. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- "Best Performance by a Human Male". Spike TV. Archived from the original on 2012-11-17. https://web.archive.org/web/20121117173525/http://www.spike.com/events/video-game-awards-2012-nominees/voting/best-performance-by-a-human-male. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- Stewart, Keith (2013-02-12). "Bafta Video Game Awards 2013 – nominees announced". The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/gamesblog/2013/feb/12/bafta-video-game-awards-nominations-2013. Retrieved 2013-02-12.
- Molina, Brett (2013-02-08). "'Journey' big winner at D.I.C.E. Awards". USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/gaming/2013/02/08/journey-walking-dead-dice-awards/1900919/. Retrieved 2013-02-09.