Incredible but true, we reached the last character appeared in the trailer of The Walking Dead (unless I missed someone, in that case, as usual, let me know). Season 9 will see the debut of the baby we only saw on ultrasounds performed on his mother: little Hershel Rhee, portrayed by Peyton Lockridge. Truth be told, baby Hershel had also been featured in a dream sequence in Season 7 episode The Day Will Come You Won’t Be, portrayed by Ethan Charles, where he’s seen with his parents, but I didn’t notice him back then… and now that vision will never become reality, as Hershel’s father is long dead. Now, let’s take a look at one of the youngest protagonists of the show.
Baby Hershel Rhee, named after his grandfather Hershel Greene, was born in a not-so-welcoming world, a post-apocalyptic wasteland inhabited by cannibal shambling corpses. He was the son of Glenn Rhee, who was killed months before he was born, and Maggie Greene, who gave birth to him in the Hilltop Colony, helped by Doctor Carson. His birth happened just little after the end of a bloody war that put Hilltop against the hostile Saviors, so Hershel lived his first two years of life in peace. He was raised by his mother Maggie, by his adoptive sister Sophia, and nearly by everybody in both Hilltop and Alexandria: as rare as the post-apocalypse children were, they all felt responsible for him. Brianna, in particular, often acted as a baby-sitter for Hershel, as Maggie was usually busy running Hilltop. The baby grew up without a care in the world, nurtured and loved without experiencing all the conflict that had been decimating his and other communities just days before he was born, and for this his mother Maggie was deeply grateful to Rick Grimes, the man who had made all that possible. This state of things was apparently meant to last forever… but it didn’t, eventually, and things soon started to fall apart, ruining Hershel’s little version of heaven.
Hershel was just learning to speak, even if he could say right only “Mommy”, but had started walking and exploring the world. Maggie brought him to the fair, an occasion in which four communities, Hilltop, Alexandria, The Sanctuary and The Kingdom, celebrated the two-years peace lasting between them organizing a huge market in which they traded local products. As usual, Maggie had soon to leave to attend business, and Hershel remained in Brianna’s custody, not that he minded, with all those new things to see. The fair, as happy an event it should have been, ended in tragedy, as twelve people went missing, and later were found decapitated, and with their reanimated heads mounted on pikes. Baby Hershel didn’t know anything of this, but Maggie immediately brought him back to their house, and kept him in her room, to keep him safe and under watch. War was coming back. The enemy, this time, was a group called the Whisperers, and the conflict soon escalated, with Hershel being totally unaware of it, until his house was set ablaze. Hershel was saved only by the intervention of Sophia, who was with him and took him out just in time, but the baby found himself surrounded by a herd of walkers, led there by the Whisperers. Maggie reached him, and both of them were saved once again by Sophia. For a little boy who had known peace all his (short) life, this was quite a traumatic chain of events.
Hershel Rhee is a normal two-years-old boy, enthusiastic and curious about everything, passionately in love with his mother Maggie and with the other two women of his life, his sister Sophia and his babysitter Brianna. A son of peace, Hershel is not used to the violence and the fear that the Whisperers brought in his life, and it’s more than likely that this new war will leave marks on the growing baby’s psyche.