Gabriel is a deeply religious, wise and generally well meaning, but also severely traumatized man. He is shown to have had extreme difficulty adapting to the nature of the post-apocalyptic world and instead retained his Christian faith.
Gabriel was initially shown to be a coward as instead of helping members of his congregation by giving them shelter in his church he refused to let them in (possibly out of fear), resulting in them being devoured alive by the walkers. This event has had a lasting effect on Gabriel and he is extremely damaged and remorseful as a result of it. He believes himself to be a bad person, smitten by God, initially even believing that Rick Grimes' group was sent to punish him.
When he meets Rick's group, Gabriel begins to see the reality of the new world, but remains in disbelief of certain attributes such as that cold blooded murder and even killing of the walkers is a necessary way to survive. He still retains his religious faith even as a result of witnessing true horrors, and is one of the few members of Rick's group who still holds religious faith.
Due to his cowardliness, lack of survival experience and religious nature, many members of the group initially do not seem particularly fond of Gabriel when they meet him, particularly Rick, Sasha Williams, and Maggie Greene. Gabriel, however, also seems to not care for Rick's group much following their massacre of Gareth and his people, as he betrays them to Deanna Monroe of the Alexandria Safe-Zone and warns her that they are dangerous and bad people who have committed unspeakable atrocities. In this sense, Gabriel can also be classified as a hypocrite as he fails to see the irony that he is not a good person either and has also caused atrocities, although this could be seen as a self-serving act, him wishing to exile the only people in the world who know of his sins to secure his place in the community. Whilst Gabriel is talking to Deanna, both are unaware that Maggie is listening nearby, and she shows pure shock and anger in her face towards Gabriel's betrayal and hypocrisy.
After Gabriel finally kills a walker and a suffering man, he turns cold and cruel for a brief period of time towards Sasha, who almost ends up killing him when he throws guilt on her shoulders and insults her deceased brother, Tyreese, but after Maggie defuses the situation, Gabriel eventually feels remorse for his actions and finally gains the forgiveness of Maggie and Sasha.
In Season 6 it is revealed that Gabriel maintains his faith in God, and feels remorse for his betrayal of Rick's group, and is shown searching for forgiveness from Rick's son Carl. Gabriel is shown to have become more confident as he volunteers to help execute Rick's plan to deal with the zombie herd, even though Rick shuts him down. He continues to demonstrate a growing inner strength, asking Carl for lessons on how to use weapons.
After a megaherd of walkers invades Alexandria, Gabriel assists in protecting the group and, when the time comes to leave the house they are holed up in, he promises Rick that once they are outside he will not run or turn back, which Rick acknowledges. In "No Way Out", he keeps his cool as he travels with Rick, Carl, Jessie Anderson, and her sons Ron and Sam amidst the zombie herd. When Rick changes his plan, Gabriel volunteers to take Judith by himself to safety in his Church. He confidently assures Rick that he will keep her safe, and Rick thanks him. Later on Gabriel watches from his church as Rick and other Alexandria residents take to the streets in a last stand against the zombies. He gives Judith to a woman in his congregation, grabs his machete and without hesitation, heads out to join the battle. He explains that their prayers for the salvation of the town have been answered; God has given them the courage to save Alexandria themselves. Through his selfless actions, Gabriel has earned the respect of Rick and redeemed himself from his past, as demonstrated when he battles with the survivors against the horde.
Gabriel has now shown to be brave and fearless as shown when he accompanies Rick and the group to attack a base under the control of the Saviors and personally executes one himself, showing that he is no longer afraid to take matters into his own hands. Gabriel has also shown to be becoming a leader as when Rick and the group leave to take Maggie to the Hilltop, Rick places Gabriel in charge of it's defense and Gabriel promises to not only protect Judith at all costs but Alexandria to, showing that he has now become a determined survivor who will do what it takes to protect those he cares about from danger.
In Season 7, following the death of Glenn Rhee, Gabriel becomes the new moral compass of the group and, using his religious faith and newfound optimism, gives helpful advice to his friends, such as Rick, Spencer Monroe, and Rosita Espinosa, while they are under the rule of Negan and the Saviors.
- Gabriel is the first and only priest encountered in both the Comic Series and the TV Series.
- While both versions of Gabriel are almost identical, the only physical difference is that Comic Gabriel has short hair and is clean-shaven, whereas TV Gabriel is entirely bald and has a goatee.
- The character was announced on May 5, 2014 under the name "Michael Todd", described as a "school guidance counselor who had an issue with a couple of his students", until the casting was revealed at SDCC on July 25, 2014.
- Gabriel Stokes is described as "having two sides, displaying a friendly, puckish humor but also having a haunted side stemming from a dark secret".
- This dark secret was revealed to be him not letting his fellow survivors in the church out of fear in the early days of the outbreak.
- As of "Hearts Still Beating", Gabriel, Aaron and Enid are the only remaining main characters introduced in Season 5.
- In the Comic Series, out of all the deceased main characters, Gabriel has the third longest lifespan with a total of 98 issues, while Glenn has the second longest lifespan with a total of 99 issues, and Andrea has the longest lifespan with a total of 166 issues.
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