Father Gabriel Stokes is one of many characters from The Walking Dead whose character underwent a drastic transformation. Actor Seth Gilliam did a remarkable job of taking the character from a sniveling coward to an impressive leader and survivor. The question is often asked regarding his eye and what happened to him.
Gabriel was introduced in the season 5 episode “Strangers” as a coward who hid inside his church while his parishioners begged entry but were devoured by walkers. He would harbor much guilt for his actions and eventually join Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) group.
In the season 8 episode “The Big Scary U,” Gabriel is captured by Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) Saviors and forced to work at Eugene’s (Josh McDermitt) outpost. Before this, he and Negan used walker guts to disguise themselves to escape from a trailer at the Sanctuary. Gabriel would contract an infection from the guts that would eventually see him lose sight in one eye.
This would be confirmed by Denise Huth, executive producer, during an episode of Talking Dead. She would talk about Gabriel being ill since “gutting up” with Negan in that episode. He had been experiencing fevers and bloodshot eyes, and then his vision became an issue.
Host Chris Hardwick asked if his illness was a direct result from the guts.
"“The science we never really know. It makes sense. It’s interesting, I always loved back in that episode, back in 805, where Negan says to him [Gabriel], when they’re starting to do it [cover themselves in walker guts], ‘Haven’t any of your people ever gotten sick doing this?’ That was certainly an indication that Negan has seen that happen.”"
The Walking Dead: Father Gabriel
Gabriel outlived his comic counterpart, who died a brutal death during the Whisper War. He would be featured in one of the season 10c bonus episodes, “One More,” with Aaron (Ross Marquand), an emotional roller coaster and marked the 150th episode of the series.
By the end of the series, Gabriel would join forces with the other survivors to overtake the Commonwealth. He wouldn’t get away uninjured as his heart grieved the loss of Rosita (Christian Serratos). He did take comfort in their child Coco, a constant reminder of her mother.
The last episode of the series brought bad memories but also redemption for Gabriel. Perhaps he will be featured in a future spinoff series.