In the game, Bill is mostly there to teach the player how to make pipe bombs, to introduce the threat of the bloaters, and to show Ellie the first location outside the big city, where they see the effects of the outbreak on the country at large. We meet Bill as the ultimate paranoid suvivalist, a man who trusts no one, and only helps Joel begrudgingly. We find out that Bill’s partner, Frank, has died by suicide after being bitten by infected, leaving a note for Bill saying he hated his guts. It is a rather bleak chapter, showing how impossible it is for anyone to find love, let alone a happy ending, in the post-apocalypse.
The live-action show starts like you would suspect from any zombie story where a stranger comes to a secluded and safe location looking for shelter. Bill is initially very distrustful of Frank, but the two quickly felt a kinship with each other and became a couple. We see them through the years, their good and bad days, their fights over whether to manage resources or fix up the neighborhood, we see how the threat of the infected gives way to the threat of raiders, and how they befriend Joel and Tess.
At every turn, you expect something bad to happen, for one to betray and leave the other, for infected to overwhelm and kill them — but it doesn’t happen. Theirs is a rare and relatively happy story within arguably the darkest genre … until we jump forward in time to the show’s present, where Frank is fighting an incurable disease and decides to end it on his own terms.