Father Gabriel’s Walking Dead Timeline, Explained


Summary

  • Gabriel’s character arc in
    The Walking Dead
    is a 180° shift from timid priest to hardened survivor.
  • Despite guilt and struggles, Gabriel maintains his moral compass and faith throughout his journey.
  • From cowardice to guardian, Gabriel’s significance lies in his transformation and dedication to others.



When it comes to character arcs on The Walking Dead, arguably, no one did as much of a 180° shift as Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) through his terrific performance. He began as a timid priest terrified to go outside his church, much less kill a walker. However, through his journey on the show, he became hardened while still maintaining his moral compass and sense of compassion.

Appearing as a surprise cameo in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, Gabriel is yet another character from the original that ties the spin-offs together. His journey has been terrifying, exciting, and compelling. How did he end up on the show, and why? First, it’s important to look back at his journey from the beginning.


Gabriel Before Meeting the Group in The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Release Date
October 31, 2010

Seasons
11

Studio
AMC

Franchise
The Walking Dead


The group met Gabriel after the Governor (David Morrissey) attacked the prison, and they were looking for a safe place to call home. They saved him from walkers, and he mentioned he had a church. They were reluctant to go with him, unclear if his terrified persona was just an act or genuine. But they threw caution to the wind and followed him.

Inside, they find a beautifully kept, locked church filled with supplies from a local food drive that Gabriel believed, by the grace of God, happened just before the outbreak. He has plenty of space, furniture, and protection from the outside world. He mentions having only ever left to get water from a local stream. But now that the canned rations are running low, Gabriel has been forced to go into the real world and face what’s happening.


Rick (Andrew Lincoln) can tell Gabriel is hiding something, but he can’t quite figure him out. After forcing him to go on a run with them and seeing Gabriel almost get himself killed, becoming paralyzed with fear (and, it seems, guilt), they realize maybe it isn’t an act after all.

Gabriel finally reveals the truth about what he has been hiding: when the world fell, his parishioners showed up at the church, banging on doors and windows, trying to claw their way in. Rather than let them in, he left them outside to die. He has been living with the guilt and shame ever since.

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The group decides to stay with Gabriel as they await the return of Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.), Carol (Melissa McBride), and Daryl (Normal Reedus), who have all mysteriously disappeared. When it’s revealed that Bob was taken by Gareth (Andrew J. West) and his Terminus cannibal buddies, who then cut off his leg to eat it (not realizing Bob had already been bitten), the church becomes a murder house. Gareth and the others pay a visit, looking to turn Rick and his friends into dinner, but they are met with brutality instead.

The group is viciously murdered inside the church as the horrified Gabriel looks on. “This is a church,” he cries to Maggie (Lauren Cohan) after the melee. “No, it’s not,” the once deeply religious woman replies. “It’s just four walls and a roof.”


Gabriel’s Turning Point in The Walking Dead

Gabriel’s turning point comes later as he joins the group and sees friend after friend lost, from Beth (Emily Kinney) to Tyreese (Chad Coleman). In one scene, Gabriel angrily removes his clerical collar and burns it in a fire, suggesting he no longer considers himself a holy follower of God. Immediately after, it begins to rain and storm, to which Gabriel looks up to the sky and says, “Sorry, my Lord!”

But even without it, Gabriel is still who he is. He oversees Tyreese’s emotional funeral, reading a bible verse at the service. He offers solace to Maggie in the wake of her sister’s death and the trauma she endured from her father’s murder as well. Maggie, however, angrily brings up Gabriel’s cowardice at his church, unearthing his guilty conscience once again.


Gabriel continues to struggle with his emotions about his commitment to God, his guilt for what he has done, and about Rick and the others and their actions. He even goes so far as to try and warn Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) about the group, suggesting she remove them from Alexandria because they are dangerous.

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His first walker kill comes when Gabriel walks outside the doors of Alexandria, depressed and ready to die. When he realizes the body that a walker is eating is barely still alive, he grabs the walker’s head and smashes it with a rock, then steps on the human’s head to put the person out of their suffering. He breaks down in tears.


He later insults Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) in the church when she looks to him for guidance, seemingly having lost his faith entirely. When the others discover Gabriel’s betrayal, he is shunned. He eventually starts to try to acclimate, even turning to Carl (Chandler Riggs) for help with how to fight.

He slowly but surely begins to realize that “killing” these undead is not a sin but a necessary part of survival. He even rallies all his parishioners in the church in Alexandria when the group is under attack and proves his worth so much that Rick is confident in leaving baby Judith under his protection.

Gabriel Becomes a Changed Man


Now a fearless and skilled fighter, Gabriel finds a way to manage both his survival needs and his faith. Residents of Alexandria are comfortable coming to him. Even Spencer (Austin Nichols) confides in Gabriel that he hates Rick and asks if that’s a sin.

It’s Gabriel’s storyline of being kidnapped from Alexandria, forced to load up all their supplies, and leaving that leads Rick to Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) at the junkyard. Later, Gabriel is pivotal to the plot to finally take down the Saviors. In an interesting twist of events, he hides in a trailer house as bullets fly, only to realize that Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is also inside. They share candid discussions about everything happening, and Negan talks about his late wife and how he deems himself weak for being unable to put her down. The two eventually save one another as they both escape unharmed.


But Negan takes Gabriel prisoner. Gabriel sees traitorous Eugene (Josh McDermitt) at Sanctuary, begging the once ally to trust and have faith in himself and to do the right thing. Eugene decides to let Gabriel escape with Harlan (R. Keith Harris), which is when Gabriel loses sight in his eye due to an infection he can’t treat in time.

Back at the Saviors camp, forced to make bullets for Eugene, Gabriel is almost killed by Negan but keeps trying to get through to Eugene. At a pivotal moment in the fight against the Saviors, Eugene decides to jump ship and explode the weapons so they don’t harm anyone. The war is over. At this moment, Gabriel realizes his purpose by God was to be in Eugene’s ear and convince him to change his mind. Clearly, it worked. Thus, Gabriel has a much bigger part in the story than he’s given credit for.


One small detail fans might have forgotten is that, after the war, Gabriel formed a brief romantic relationship with Jadis, now going by her real name, Anne, as a member of the Alexandria community. When she was accused of murdering Saviors, who had joined the community after the war, however, she became enraged. She almost fed Gabriel to a walker before changing her mind and deciding it was time for her to leave, since no one trusted her.

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Later, Gabriel almost loses himself completely when he violently kills Dante, discovering that Dante not only killed Siddiq in one of the most devastating deaths in the show’s latter seasons, but that he was a spy for the Whisperers. Gabriel eventually finds his way back to a sense of humanity and faith in God once again. But this marks his lowest point.


One of his most heart-wrenching scenes comes in Season 10 when Gabriel and best friend Aaron (Ross Marquand) are forced to play a game of Russian Roulette at the hands of Mays (Robert Patrick), a survivor they come across on a supply run. Despite the man’s urgings that they point the gun at one another at every turn, they both refuse, instead deciding to end their own lives if that’s what it would come to.

Thankfully, they both survive, and Gabriel (and Aaron) go on to work with the group to take down Pamela Milton (Laila Robins), Governor of the Commonwealth. He has a full circle moment when Pamela orders her soldiers to close the gates, trapping residents outside as a horde of walkers is closing in on them. Gabriel, reminded of his own dark actions at the church, risks his life. He orders the soldiers to shoot him if they must, but he is opening the gates no matter what. He would never again watch people being slaughtered outside doors that could be opened for them.


After losing Rosita (Christian Serratos), his new romantic partner, Gabriel, becomes a guardian to Coco, her daughter with Siddiq (Avi Nash). At the end of the series, Gabriel moves back to Alexandria with Coco, where they begin a new life together.

Gabriel’s Cameo in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live

Gabriel surprised fans in the opening sequence of Episode 5 of The Ones Who Live by killing a walker and then looking up to the sky and asking for God’s forgiveness.

In a flashback, he is seen a few years before The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, walking in the forest when he comes across Anne/Jadis. They share an embrace and sit down to talk. He knows she has joined a new community but knows nothing about them. Jadis is wearing plainclothes, so there’s nothing to suggest that she’s part of the Civic Republic Military (CRM), nor that Gabriel even knows of its existence.


The two share intimate conversations, even at one point, a passionate kiss. Jadis reveals to Gabriel that she is constantly torn. She is doing things that are necessary to create a better world. But that also means she is sometimes heartless and cruel. She still cares deeply for the people in Alexandria and wants to protect them. But her allegiance to the two groups is constantly being tested. Gabriel provides an open ear and advice, and while Jadis might not take it to heart, it’s clear she’s listening and appreciates seeing him.

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Gabriel returns year after year to meet with Jadis for their annual chat. Gabriel reveals that before Rick “died,” he asked Gabriel to marry them. Not long after, Gabriel looked down at his feet and found a ring. He saw that as a sign and was going to give the ring to Rick. But with both gone, he hands the ring to Jadis and tells her to keep it and use it as a symbol of faith.

During another meeting the following year, Jadis becomes increasingly agitated when Gabriel begs her to return and questions why she is part of a group that “hoards supplies while others suffer.” She pulls a gun on Gabriel and apologizes that he has become a “loose end.”

Gabriel, however, unlike the old version of him the group met in Season 5, is unfazed. He urges her to shoot him because he knows she won’t. He knows exactly what to say, and when he calls her Anne, her eyes flicker, and she lowers the weapon. Before leaving, Gabriel looks at her and says she now has her answer as to who she is. When Gabriel returns the following year, he waits for hours but does not find Jadis. What Gabriel doesn’t know, however, is that Jadis has been killed.


Gabriel’s Significance to The Walking Dead Story

Gabriel wearing a mask and goggles, Eugene wearing googles and looking at him work on The Walking Dead
AMC

There are many reasons Gabriel has been significant to The Walking Dead universe. He’s a character fans can relate to, given his reluctance to resort to such violent ways. Most people, after all, wouldn’t find it so easy transitioning from normal life to bashing skulls with a machete. His reaction to the situation was believable.

Despite all the sadness, heartbreak, and loss around him, and though he lost his way a few times, Gabriel never truly lost his faith. His calming words, sermons, and dedication to others made him a crucial member of the team. Gabriel went from being a coward to providing solace and counsel for those who needed it, fighting walkers and doing what needed to be done to protect group members. When Rick proposes to Michonne with the ring Gabriel gave Jadis, fans hope that someday, somehow, they make it back, and it’s Gabriel who oversees the ceremony. He earned his place. Watch episodes of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live on AMC and stream them on AMC+.




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