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Villain Overview
Five years ago, I lost 30,000 men in the blink of an eye. And the world just f-ckin' watched. Tomorrow, there will be no shortage of volunteers, no shortage of patriots. I know that you understand.
~ Shepherd revealing his reasons while preparing to kill Soap - and also his final words before his death as well as his most famous line.

Lieutenant General Hershel von Shepherd III, also simply known as General Shepherd, was the main antagonist of the 2009 video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and a posthumous antagonist in the 2011 sequel, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. He was also a minor character in both the 2011 live-action short film Find Makarov: Operation Kingfish and the 2009 comic book Modern Warfare 2: Ghost.

He was a corrupt U.S. Army officer in charge of Task Force 141, who secretly sought to restore his country's reputation as the world's greatest military force and become recognized as a war hero, while betraying and killing anybody who stood in his way.

In the game, he was voiced by Lance Henriksen, who also voiced Lockdown in Transformers: Animated and Karl Bishop Weyland in the 2010 Alien vs Predator video game; while in the short film, he was both portrayed by David Brandon George and voiced by Don Berns.

Biography

Second Russian Civil War

During the events of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Shepherd commanded 30,000 U.S. Marines and the military invasion force in the Middle East on 2011 in response to the live execution of President Yasir Al-Fulani by OpFor leader, Khaled Al-Asad. Unfortunately, he was helpless to assist his men when Vladimir Makarov detonated the nuclear device in the capital city, wiping out his fellow Marines and most of his invasion force involved in the battle.

Inter-War Period

Losing 30,000 troops under his command affected Shepherd greatly, causing him to develop a sour view of the world and international politics. Some time following his invasion of the Persian Gulf, Shepherd sought new ways to restore the United States' reputation as the global military power. The others were unaware that he secretly attempted to restore his own reputation as a military commander.

Sometime between 2011 and 2013, Shepherd founded a new unit called Task Force 141 with the help of John "Soap" MacTavish from Special Air Service. They evaluated the recruits from the special forces units of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Shepherd also traveled to Mexico to recruit a former SAS trooper, Simon "Ghost" Riley.

Operation Kingfish

In 2013, Shepherd commanded the 141 in a mission code-named "Operation Kingfish" which he sent Captain John Price, Captain John "Soap" MacTavish, Lieutenant Simon "Ghost" Riley, Sergeant Gary "Roach" Sanderson and the Delta Force operators, Sandman and Derek "Frost" Westbrook to an Ultranationalist compound in Ukraine on a capture/kill mission to apprehend an individual code-named "Kingfish" who was later revealed to be Vladimir Makarov. The mission ended in failure as a large force of Ultranationalist troops attacked the task force. Most of them survived with the apparent exception of Price who stayed behind to allow the others to escape.

Also during this time, Shepherd created Shadow Company, an elite military force that was fiercely loyal to Shepherd, which he used to his own ends.

Planning a Full-Scale War

In the battle for occupying Afghanistan in 2016, Shepherd needed an enemy as part of his plan to increase the U.S. military. After hearing Makarov's increased terrorist attacks throughout Europe, Shepherd believed that the former's presence would be a mark to indirectly help and bring his desire changes. Now he had Task Force 141, Shepherd sent former Ranger-turned CIA operative, Private First Class Joseph Allen, undercover in Moscow under an alias, "Alexei Borodin," to infiltrate Makarov's Inner Circle as they planned to attack Zakhaev International Airport.

Unfortunately, Makarov knew of Allen's undercover status (which Shepherd probably deliberately leaked to him) and he killed him in order to place the blame solely on America for the massacre, much to Shepherd's delight. As a result of the sudden Russian invasion on the U.S. mainland, the government appointed Shepherd to lead the defense of his country, setting the stage for his revenge on the Ultranationalists.

Betraying Task Force 141

Sometime after the rescue of Captain John Price, Shepherd planned a personal war against the Ultranationalists and anyone who knew of Joseph Allen. Shepherd sent Roach and Ghost to collect any intelligence related to Makarov before mercilessly executing them and giving them a sadistic funeral pyre as his (Shepherd's) elite private army soaked them in gas and he lit them on fire with his cigar. Then, his men began their plan to kill Makarov's men and the rest of Task Force 141 in order to tie up loose ends regarding what he did. At the vehicle boneyard in Afghanistan, Makarov revealed Shepherd's command base "Site Hotel Bravo" to Price before he and Soap escaped in Nikolai's C-130 Hercules.

Final Fight and Death

After the rescue, Price and Soap had no allies they could trust and decided to go on a suicide mission to kill Shepherd for betraying Task Force 141. With his command collapsed, Shepherd tried to escape in a Pave Low helicopter, but it was shot down by Price as he got in. Shepherd escaped the crash site and pinned MacTavish down after stabbing him in his chest. The renegade General then revealed Soap of the events in the past before attempting to execute him. Price saved Soap, and the two fought. Just when Shepherd was about to beat Price to death, Soap pulled the knife out of his chest and threw it directly into Shepard's left eye, killing him and avenging the deaths of the 141 members, as well as the innocent people at the airport he deliberately allowed to get killed.

Legacy

Shepherd was later buried at the Arlington National Cemetery and he was called a "War Hero" by many people at that time and, unfortunately, Soap and Price were declared war criminals. However, their names were cleared when Price and Yuri (Soap wasn't there because he was killed) conducted a joint operation with their U.S. Delta Force counterparts to rescue the President of Russia, Boris Vorshevsky, and his daughter Alena from a diamond mine in Siberia, restoring the President's goal of developing peace and friendship between the United States, Russia and NATO.

2019 Reboot

General Shepherd was mentioned at the end of the 2019 reboot Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. After General Barkov's death and Viktor Zakhaev's prompt to take his place, Shepherd had Kate Laswell fulfill Captain Price's request for a list of candidates for Task Force 141 to deal with him, which included "Soap" MacTavish, Kyle "Gaz" Garrick and Simon "Ghost" Riley.

Quotes

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Boundaries shift, new players step in; but power always finds a place to rest its head. We fought and bled alongside the Russians; we should've known they’d hate us for it. History is written by the victor, and here I am, thinking we'd won. But you bring down one enemy and they find someone even worse to replace him. Locations change, the rationale, the objective. Yesterday's enemies are today’s recruits. Train them to fight alongside you and pray they don’t eventually decide to hate you for it, too.
~ Shepherd's speech during the opening cutscene in S.S.D.D., while also describing the growing threat of Makarov following Zakhaev's death.
We are the most powerful military force in the history of man. Every fight is our fight. Because what happens over here, matters over there. We don't get to sit one out. Learning to use the tools of modern warfare is the difference between the prospering of your people, and utter destruction. We can't give you freedom. But we can give you the know-how to acquire it. And that, my friends, is worth more than a whole army base of steel. Sure it matters who's got the biggest stick, but it matters a helluva lot more who's swinging it. This is a time for heroes. A time for legends. History is written by the victors. Let's get to work.
~ Shepherd describes his country's military might in the cutscene of "Team Player".
Get up, Private Allen! Rangers lead the way! Move!
~ Shepherd to Private Allen.
Since when does Shepherd care about danger close?
~ A common question brought up by protagonists regarding Shepherd's disregard for the safety of himself and his men - which also foreshadows his true colors and motivations.
Gentlemen, good work on taking the town. Private Allen, you'll be taking orders from me from now on. I'll brief you on the chopper. Let's go.
~ Shepherd to Allen at the end of "Team Player".
Makarov's no prize. He's a whore. A mad-dog killer for the highest bidder. Just remember your new identity. It'll keep you alive.
~ Shepherd to Joseph Allen.
The rest of Task Force 141 brought in the ACS, Allen. Two men took down an entire base. I ask much more from you now. Yesterday you were a soldier on the front lines. But today front lines are history. Uniforms are relics. The war rages everywhere. And there will be casualties. This man Makarov is fighting his own war and he has no rules. No boundaries. He doesn't flinch at torture, human trafficking, or genocide. He's not loyal to a flag or country or any set of ideals. He trades blood for money. He's your new best friend. You don't want to know what it's cost to put you next to him. It will cost you a piece of yourself. It will cost nothing compared to everything you'll save.
~ Shepherd to Allen before "No Russian".
When they speak of this moment, we will not be the ones who stood guard while America died. One man is responsible for all this. Makarov must be brought to light.
~ Shepherd declaring war on Makarov during the Russian invasion in America, which grants him a blank check from SecDef.
It's been a tough week, gentlemen. We've lost more than we ever dreamed. But we will recover. I've got a blank check. And we're gonna use every cent of it killin' Makarov. Despite what the world may say, we are not savages, we don't kill civilians. We use precision. There's an evil man hiding in these shadows and we're gonna bring him into the light. Once his face is revealed, we will write history, gentlemen.
~ Shepherd declaring the man-hunt for Makarov to Task Force 141.
Shepherd: Do you have the DSM?
Ghost: We've got it, Sir!
Shepherd: Good. That's one less loose end.
Ghost: No!
~ Shepherd revealing his true nature as he betrays and kills Ghost and Roach before collecting D.S.M. containing Makarov's operations playbook.
You know what they say about revenge: you better be ready to dig two graves... (long pause) Go ahead and end it. It won't change anything. (long pause) Hmph. I know you couldn't do it. (long pause) You're a good warrior, but you can never take that extra step to do what was absolutely necessary.
~ Shepherd to Soap if the player doesn't attack the general.

Trivia

  • Robert Bowling gave Shepherd's his full name on Twitter as "Hershel von Sheperd III", though it is not clear if this was intended as a serious statement. In addition, the Tweet misspelled Shepherd's last name as "Sheperd".
  • Makarov is the Big Bad in the Modern Warfare series due to being the cause of the events of the series; however, General Shepherd takes the role of the main antagonist in Modern Warfare 2 because he had bigger plans than anyone else.
  • Shepherd is the first villain to be American in Call of Duty series, the others being Gabriel T. Rorke in Call of Duty: Ghosts and Jonathan Irons in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
    • However, unlike the other two, Shepherd was the only one who wasn't waging war against the country.
  • His betrayal in "Loose Ends" is regarded as one of the most shocking moments in Call of Duty history, especially due to killing off two fan-favorite characters (Ghost and Roach).
  • Shepherd shows himself to be a smoker, as he is seen smoking cigars. Notably, he throws his cigar on Ghost and Roach's corpses in "Loose Ends".

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