- "...Portraying Bill as a once heroic army veteran, who though older and wiser, can still excel at physical combat."
- ―Ariel Diaz, Valve.
- "Even bein' in a war doesn't prepare you for this. They come at you and come at you and they never goddamn stop!"
He is a Vietnam veteran who served in the US Army 1st Special Forces Group, and is also noticeably the oldest of the group in the late sixties. He is usually seen wielding the Assault Rifle (which appears as the M16A2, a real-life assault rifle used by the U.S. Military after the Vietnam War). He often has a lit cigarette in his mouth that only extinguishes when he dies.
Bill is killed prior to the events of Left 4 Dead 2's The Passing during the (canonical) events of The Sacrifice. In the latter, he sacrificed himself to raise the bridge for the other three Survivors. According to The Sacrifice Comic, Bill died after being attacked by multiple Tanks when he went down to reactivate the lift bridge at the finale so the rest of his team of Survivors may be safe from the oncoming Horde.
Bill is portrayed by Bernard Fouquet and he was voiced by the late Jim French.
Bill served two tours of duty in the Vietnam War. U.S. Special Forces involvement in the war that ended in 1975. Sometime during the war he suffered a knee injury as a result of shrapnel boring into his knee, causing permanent damage. Two days after the first Infection, Bill was at a veteran's hospital waiting for an operation, possibly relating to his knee injury. When a resident staff attempts to make small talk in regards to Bill's missing family along with his smoking habits, Bill tells him to go practice somewhere else.
As he undergoes anesthesia and slowly blacks out for the surgery, one of the nurses becomes an Infected and kills the operation room staff. Bill somehow staves off his oncoming unconsciousness through sheer force of will as he simultaneously fights off the Infected nurse, disabling her momentarily. Finding a bone saw and a knife to defend himself with, Bill fights the sudden rise of Infected outside the hospital to make it back home, where he equips his old military clothing which had been put away for safekeeping.
Relationships with other Survivors
WARNING: The following is conjecture and may not be considered canon.
Out of the other three Survivors, Bill stands out most prominently as the leader of the group.
- Bill appears to have some sort of rivalry with Francis, though the precise reason for this is unknown. It is possible that Bill and Francis knew each other prior to the outbreak, and Francis's in-comic comment about knowing Bill the past few weeks suggests this too. Another cause could be Francis's supposed hatred of the military (since Bill was once a soldier), instinctive alpha-male rivalry, or simply Francis's gruff personality rubs Bill the wrong way. Alternatively, what is said could simply be friendly teasing between the two. Even when Francis is dead, Bill can be heard mourning about his death, showing at least a little respect for the latter as he will sometimes say if he sacrifices himself, "Christ, I'm gonna miss that son of a bitch."
- In The Sacrifice comic, while Bill still doesn't particularly get along with Francis, he considers Francis as 'his own', and will desert any newcomer if they have a chance of endangering his group. Francis, despite all his insults, knows Bill well enough to know even when Bill doesn't do the right thing, he does it for the right reasons. When Bill leaves the group to sacrifice himself and does not return, Francis is the first to attempt to go down to bring him back, but is stopped by Zoey as the reality of the situation sinks in, and they mourn for his death.
- In The Passing, Francis is sometimes not happy that they have to lower the bridge, since it was due to Bill's efforts that it was raised in the first place. Also, Francis may be heard saying that they lost a good man getting the bridge up, showing he may secretly respect Bill.
- As far as the Survivors' relationships go, Louis and Bill do not have much evidence hinting towards each other's dispositions. Bill will, however, seem genuinely upset to see Louis die. Oddly enough, this is in contrast to how unsympathetic Bill can be when Louis is incapacitated outside of the safe room. However, he'll usually follow this by saying he was joking.
- In The Sacrifice comic, Bill is able to see when Louis is planning something (such as ramming a jeep leaking gasoline into a Tank) and react accordingly, and shows surprise at his intuitive thinking. Similar to how he treats Francis, Bill prioritizes the safety of Louis as one of his group above others, even if it means their deaths. Bill also told Louis once they make it to the Keys he'll make him a fishing pro. Louis also bonded with Bill after showing the older man how to make Pipe bombs, although it is not shown, having been a remark by Francis to Zoey.
- In The Passing, Louis is sad that Bill is gone, but is resolved more than ever to stay with Francis and Zoey. When killing a Tank, Louis may proclaim the kill in Bill's name for revenge.
- The relationship between Bill and Zoey is fairly strong. Bill is openly sorrowful when Zoey is killed. When Zoey is incapacitated on the other side of the safe room, Bill verbally refuses to leave her behind. Bill seems to view her as a daughter or granddaughter figure. This is strengthened in Part One of "The Sacrifice" comic as Zoey is seen resting closest to Bill on the evacuation vehicle, and in that he mentions her name first when he's reflecting on sacrificing himself to save the others. To further illustrate this, he attacks a soldier who hits Zoey with his gun when demanding she show the doctor her wound, and when she reflects on how her parents died, she hugs Bill, finding comfort in his arms.
- Their relationship is strained deeply in The Sacrifice comic when he refuses to stop the train to allow the other newer Survivors on board due to his need to protect his group, of which Zoey is a part of. Later on, Bill sacrifices himself to save the other Survivors, leaving Zoey with sadness, as they never really made up prior to their separation. She takes up Bill's conviction to "look after their own" in his place. During his initial jump down the bridge, Bill mentally vents his anger at the Infected, thinking how every time he thinks "she's" safe and he can rest, they're there again like a bad nightmare. "She" in this case most likely refers to Zoey.
- In The Passing, if Louis and Francis joke about Bill, Zoey may look away or appear very sad, hinting that she is the one who misses him the most.
Unfortunately, Bill did not live long enough to meet the Survivors of Left 4 Dead 2. However Francis and Louis joke that Bill would probably have shot Nick within a very short time frame due to the latter's disagreeable personality. Rochelle shows understanding and sympathy to Bill's death in certain lines to the original Survivors. Both Coach and Nick have multiple lines regarding the loss of Bill if his death is mentioned.
Quotes and Captions
- Jim French, who voices Bill in Left 4 Dead, was a relatively frequent voice actor in Valve games, having also voiced Father Grigori from Half-Life 2, The Elder Titan from Dota 2 and The Fisherman from Half-Life 2: Lost Coast.
- Originally, Bill was the "narrator" in the cut intros of the campaigns. Furthermore, Bill's original beta design was relatively similar to his current appearance. The only difference in his beta appearance from his current appearance is that Bill's jacket was actually an olive drab colored hoodie, 5th SFG beret insignia, a black military assault vest with the U.S. flag, POW flag on his right shoulder, gray/black gloves, and dog tags hanging.
- Contrary to popular belief, Bill cannot be revived with a Defibrillator during The Passing.
- Bill is always seen smoking a cigarette in-game. Even when he is dead, it is still in his mouth. In The Passing, however, his cigarette is missing from his corpse. When he dies in-game, it is no longer lit. Aside from when he dies, the only other time his cigarette has been shown to not be lit is in the opening video for Left 4 Dead.
- Bill believes that the Survivors may become Infected at any second. In the earlier versions, seen in cut lines, he was close to being paranoid about the fact they may be Infected, while the virus is mutating in their bodies. Currently, the closest Bill comes to mentioning anything about themselves regarding the Infection is in No Mercy, where one of his possible lines is him telling his fellow Survivors to shoot him if he turns Infected.
- Bill is currently the only Survivor on the mainstream continuity with a confirmed last name. "Overbeck" can be found on his military jacket, and he was addressed as "Mr. Overbeck" in The Sacrifice comic. Other than Bill, the only characters whose surnames were revealed are the protagonists introduced in Left 4 Dead: Survivors.
- Bill's original issue combat jacket bears no badges of rank (or suggestion that they might once have been sewn on and then removed). This suggests that, as an enlisted man, Bill did not achieve even the most basic step up in promotion. Such a situation would be most unusual for a long-service soldier during the Vietnam War period, especially one with time served in the Special Forces. It may just be a developer oversight.
- When viewing Bill's world model, one can see that Bill has a severe limp when he is at critical health. The other Survivors also stagger, but this is further proof that he injured his right leg in his line of work at some point.
- Pre-orders for Left 4 Dead 2 would give Team Fortress 2 owners Bill's Hat as a unique (although it can now be obtained through trading), in-game item. It appears as a brown or dark blue beret (its subtitle is "Level 10 Veteran's Beret). The backstory behind this is that Bill's hat fell off a table and into another dimension, landing in the Team Fortress 2 universe.
- Bill may have had contact with a Witch prior to the events of Left 4 Dead. There are slash marks in the back of his jacket consistent with her claws. Furthermore, in the intro, he tells Zoey to turn off her flashlight when he notices the crying is coming from a Witch; however, this may be because he saw her claws or her general inhuman appearance.
- Alternatively, these claw marks could have come from a Hunter.
- If one uses transformation console commands on Bill to turn him into a different Survivor, they would see that Bill possess a unique facial animation. The right side of his mouth tends to be raised, almost as if he is smiling (probably due to his cigarette) and his brows are constantly lowered.
- At the time of the Infection, Bill appears to be a resident of the city of Fairfield, or the greater Philadelphia area.
- If one were to reverse the Midnight Riders song "Save Me Some Sugar" from 2:08 - 2:14, they would find that what sounded like gibberish before is actually the lead singer chanting "Bill is dead", a possible reference to the "Paul is dead" hoax of the '60s, where one of the band members of The Beatles, Paul McCartney, was believed to be dead.
- Bill was voted the most popular Survivor in Left 4 Dead 2 for Xbox 360 and second most popular for PC on the Week 20 poll.
- Valve created an achievement for Bill in The Sacrifice where players are awarded the KILL BILL achievement if Bill performs the sacrificing. This is a nod to Bill dying in the storyline. This is the only achievement in either Left 4 Dead game where it is tied to a specific character. The achievement name is also a reference to Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill series.
- Bill smokes Romero brand cigarettes, as seen in The Sacrifice trailer. This is a nod to famous zombie movie director George A. Romero.
- Bill is mentioned as "namvet" in the resources and code. He has 26 facial expressions, the highest of any original Survivor. 19 of these are unique to his character [sneering, shock, angry battle, hurt, fear 1-2-3, angry 1, shock dialogue, hurt dialogue, hurt 2 dialogue, happy dialogue, evil smile, eh [sic], smile 2, awe 1, awe 2, sarcastic 1, sarcastic 2]. He shares anger 3, gruff dialogue with Francis; happy with Zoey; and concerned dialogue and optimistic dialogue with Louis and Francis. None of his facial expressions are shared exclusively with Louis.
- If a Survivor other than Bill is being sacrificed in the finale of The Sacrifice, Bill exclaims that it wasn't supposed to be them.
- In The Sacrifice, Bill will occasionally ironically remark, "You know who runs around filling things up with gas? Idiots," as the Left 4 Dead 2 Survivors are obligated to do just that in the finales for Dead Center and The Passing.
- If Bill is spawned as a L4D1 Survivor Bot in a custom campaign, he is still capable of tossing the player supplies like Francis and Zoey, despite not appearing alive in The Passing. This dates back to an original concept where a random Survivor would be dead in The Passing. Bill was eventually picked because Valve had trouble contacting Jim French, even for the Crash Course campaign.
- Bill became a playable character in the game Dead By Daylight, included in the "Left Behind" update.
- Bill also appeared in a cameo in PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2. He can be seen in civilian attire within an elevator of a heist named No Mercy in both versions.
- Bill in Dead by Daylight is not canon to the Left 4 Dead's story.
- Seen on his model's texture, he smokes an El Kirchmer Tradicional brand cigarette.
- Upon closer inspection of Bill's beta model, the shirt he wears under his jacket has a green beret insigna.
- "Louis didn't make it... Agh, Christ!"
- "How well do you really know Louis?"
- "Aghh...not [tearing up] Zoey."
- "Zoey can't stay out there! We have to help her."
- "I can't leave Zoey out there!"
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