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- "I appreciate everything you've done for me. Giving me a home. Letting me take over the church, giving me a place to serve the lord. Now I want to serve in another way. I don't think it's enough to protect the souls of our people. I've done that and I feel I've done a good job. But I'm able... able to do more... able to really protect my flock. I feel like I could be of use to you... as a soldier. With your blessing... I'd like to start training with the others."
- —Gabriel to Rick Grimes, about joining his army.[src]
Gabriel Stokes, also known as Father Gabriel, is a character first encountered in Issue 61 of Image Comics' The Walking Dead. He is a preacher who came across Rick Grimes and his group after leaving his church, where he had been hiding from the undead. Gabriel traveled with the group to Alexandria, where he became the head priest of the church located there. After overcoming his aversion towards violence, Gabriel lost all hesitation towards killing walkers, and joined Rick Grimes' militia against the Whisperers.
Gabriel Stokes was the reverend of a regional community church. Not much of his personality or life before the outbreak has been revealed. The only detail given by the reverend was when he admitted to Rick and the rest of the group that during the initial zombie outbreak, he locked the doors to his church due to his own cowardice and allowed a whole group of survivors to be killed by roamers.
Gabriel claimed he had been living in the church's safety since the beginning of the epidemic, but the validity of his story, especially considering that it had been a full year since the outbreak began when the group encountered him, is questionable.
Forced from the church due to dwindling supplies, Gabriel set out into the surrounding countryside and eventually ran into Rick Grimes and his group while they were on the road.
The group encountered Gabriel on the road at a chaotic time, in the aftermath of losing the prison to the Governor and during the heartbreaking dilemma involving the twins. Thus, the survivors were initially very suspicious of his presence and story, and did not trust him due to their weariness of other human survivors and conflict among the group. Gabriel tried to comfort them with his obvious appearance as a religious man, but most of them visibly expressed open distrust or disbelief of his presence and mannerisms.
The moral dilemma involving Ben and Billy, and Dale's eventual fatal bite allowed Gabriel to blend into the group without too much difficulty as Rick and the other leaders were focused on the more pressing matters at hand. When it was discovered that Ben had killed Billy, Gabriel conducted prayers for the burial of both of the children.
Eventually, Gabriel led the survivors to his church for shelter while searching for the missing Dale, who had disappeared the night before. Rick eventually confronted Gabriel in the church, accusing him of being somehow involved in the disappearance of Dale and threatened him with violence. Gabriel then revealed his true story before meeting the group in tears. He expressed extreme remorse and guilt when he explained that he only survived several months alone in the church by turning away his followers and any other local civilians when the zombie attacks started. His main focus, he tried to emphasize to Rick, was to try and keep some spiritual faith for himself and the survivors, a sentiment which unfortunately was largely not shared.
It did not take long for the group to soon discover a group of human Hunters were stalking them. The conflict escalated when Glenn was shot in the leg from afar when he and the others tried to rescue Dale, who was discovered partially mutilated in the front of the church entrance.
Gabriel was soon forced by Rick, Andrea, Michonne, and Abraham Ford to accompany them in finding the whereabouts of the Hunters, as he was the only member of their group who was familiar with the local area. When the group found the Hunters, Gabriel watched in horror as the group, led by Rick, brutally mutilated and murdered them in violent retaliation for their stalking and near fatal attacks on Dale and Glenn. Gabriel vocally expressed shock and outrage at their murder but Rick told him he was no better than them for turning people away from the church, silencing the reverend into submission.
With no other choice, Gabriel followed Rick and the group on their journey to Washington, D.C., despite admitting extreme disagreement with the group's violent actions against the Hunters.
He traveled successfully to the Alexandria Safe-Zone and was soon identified by Douglas Monroe during the introduction interview as the man to run the local Church, which had survived intact. When the walls expanded and the church became accessible, he began to run daily masses. He seemed to be doing well in adjusting to living within the Community, aside from the packed living conditions of living with the group in Rick's house for the first few nights.
Gabriel became convinced that God led him to the Community so he could eventually preach at the new church. He eventually believed and tried to get the rest of the survivors exiled from the Safe-Zone because of what they did to the Hunters, but Douglas Monroe did not agree with Gabriel's belief that the groups actions were evil and decided to ignore his request.
In Issue 82, when the zombies breach the Safe-Zone, he's seen in his church, crying. He finally gets over his fear and lets Eugene Porter and Nicholas in before the zombies reach them, the opposite of what happened the first time at the onset of the outbreak.
In Issue 84, after watching Rick and Michonne fighting endlessly against the zombie horde, it may have inspired the men. Eugene and Nicholas get over their fears and go out to help Rick and Michonne. They also eventually convince Gabriel to stop hiding and help. While he's shown clearly afraid, he still joins the group and aids them during the fight. He, along with the others, survive and win the zombie attack. Although he's left stunned, most likely by his actions or that he survived the fight.
In the aftermath of the attack, Gabriel is largely absent, rarely being involved with the ongoing events.
Gabriel has had little participation in the war against Negan. However, he serves as the priest for the funeral of Abraham (who was killed by the Saviors). He survives the attack on the Alexandria Safe-Zone, and moves to the Hilltop, along with the rest of the group and survives the events of the conflict.
Gabriel has now returned to Alexandria to resume his duties as the town's priest. He was present at the funeral of the members of the communities that were killed by Alpha. Gabriel later appears at an Alexandria meeting and is shocked when violence breaks out among the citizens. When Rick announces that he plans to take action against the Whisperers, Gabriel is amongst those cheering and chanting his name.
Father Gabriel approaches Rick after the training session and tells him he wants to join the Militia.
He is seen again in Issue 152 training and killing walkers along with Dwight and Laura. Dwight commends his progress, though he doesn't tell him that he's practicing for live targets.
In Issue 153 he is seen with the others in the woods trying to sneak past some walkers. A walker manages to sneak up behind him, but Dwight intervenes and saves his life.
As the Militia take position, ready to face the Whisperers, Gabriel climbs a nearby water tower to take patrol. He struggles to climb, but eventually makes it up. As he looks through the scope of his sniper rifle, he is shocked to see a large group of Whisperers approaching. Gabriel runs towards the ladder, pleading to the Lord for help, in his panic he falls backwards off the ladder and tries to catch himself on a ring by using his foot, which snaps his ankle nearly clean off. Dangling upside down he is met by a voice proclaiming "I will save you". This voice is revealed to be Beta, who proceeds to slash Gabriel's stomach open, telling him that he should have whispered as he marched onward towards Alexandria. Gabriel is then devoured by walkers, stripping him nearly to the bone on the upper half of his body.
Gabriel is mentioned by Jesus to Aaron saying he found his body hanging upside down when preparing a funeral for everyone who died.
- Killed By
- Himself (Indirectly Caused, Accidental)
Gabriel panics when he sees the large Whisperer army coming toward him. In a rush to climb down the ladder, he falls and gets his leg caught and broken, trapping him on the ladder.
Gabriel is stuck upside down on the ladder begging for someone to help him. Suddenly, Beta appears and says that he will, right before stabbing him in the gut. Gabriel quickly bleeds out and the Whisperers leave him to be devoured by the oncoming walkers.
This list shows the victims Gabriel has killed:
- Himself (Indirectly Caused, Accidental)
- Many unnamed people (Indirectly Caused)
- Numerous counts of zombies
- Gabriel was originally supposed to be named James.
- Gabriel is the only confirmed priest who is encountered within The Walking Dead comic series.
- During the events of "No Way Out", Gabriel has to endure the exact same situation he's been through in the beginning of the apocalypse: being locked in his church with survivors outside begging for help, although this time, he overcomes his fear and lets the survivors in, unlike the first time.
- In the Letter Hacks of Issue 158, it is suggested that Gabriel's death might have been one of the most unpleasant ones yet.