The Governor is the charismatic leader of Woodbury, a seemingly utopian community, barricaded behind walls. He protects the citizens of Woodbury from walkers and provides them with shelter, food, clothing and perhaps most importantly, a semblance of what it was like to live in the world before the dead began walking. However, Woodbury's peaceful facade belies the authoritarian, often brutal methods employed by the Governor behind the scenes.
The Governor takes in Andrea and Michonne after Merle discovers them at a helicopter crash site in the forest. He quickly woos Andrea to his side and they become lovers. But his charms fail to work on Michonne, and he sends Merle to kill her when she leaves Woodbury.
Unbeknownst to most Woodbury residents, the Governor oversees a research lab to test whether walkers retain any trace of the humans they once were. His research is motivated by his undead daughter Penny, who he keeps locked in a secret chamber in his apartment, in hopes that she can be cured someday.
The Governor collects walkers for yet another reason: He uses them against humans in battle. He also holds gladiator fights in the Woodbury arena, using chained walkers to antagonize the human fighters. When Andrea attends a gladiator fight, she calls the practice "barbaric," but the Governor maintains it helps "shine a light on the monster under the bed."
When Merle captures Glenn and Maggie, the Governor brutally interrogates them and forces Maggie to give up her group's location.
Rick's group attacks Woodbury and rescues Glenn and Maggie. During the rescue, Michonne stabs the Governor through the eye and also kills Penny. Enraged, the Governor declares Woodbury at war with the prison and recruits Woodbury residents to his army.
As time goes on, the Governor grows increasingly unhinged and consumed with bloodlust. At Andrea's insistence, he meets with Rick under the pretense of forging a truce. Instead, he threatens to obliterate the prison unless Rick hands over Michonne. He gives Rick two days to decide, although he secretly plans to kill Rick's group either way.
When the Governor learns that Andrea escaped Woodbury to warn Rick of his double-cross, he chases her down and ties her up in a makeshift torture chamber. He stabs his assistant Milton — who helped Andrea escape — and locks him in the chamber with Andrea so that he'll devour her once he's turned into a walker.
While Milton bleeds out, the Governor leads his army in an attack against the prison, but Rick's group manages to drive them away. On the retreat back to Woodbury, the Governor flies into a rage, screaming at his soldiers for their cowardice and eventually slaughtering them all.
Having lost his army, the Governor drives off with Martinez and Shumpert — his only remaining acolytes.