|Plot details follow, read at your own risk.|
- "There's the case that makes you and the case that breaks you."
- ―Herschel Biggs
Biggs was born in 1892 and grew up poor, as he remarks that all he wanted as a kid was food on the table. Biggs served in the Marines. At Belleau Wood in 1918, during World War I, his unit was trapped in a barn, which was destroyed, presumably by German flammenwerfer troops, deeply traumatizing Biggs.
During his time in the LAPD, Biggs had actively refused to work with a partner, preferring to work alone. This attitude gave him his reputation as a "social basket case" amongst fellow officers and superiors. While working arson cases Biggs briefly became affiliated with Jack Kelso, a California Fire and Life insurance claims investigator.
Events of L.A. Noire
Biggs and Phelps first crossed paths when Cole was welcomed to the Traffic desk and introduced to his partner Stefan Bekowsky. Biggs shoved past Cole roughly, ignoring him as he crossed the room. Cole remarked "What's his problem?" to which he's simply told "That's Biggs. He's an institution."
After Phelps was demoted from Vice to Arson, he was partnered with Biggs. His partnership with Phelps was forced on him by his Captain, Lachlan McKelty. Displeased with this arrangement, he was unfriendly and reticent toward Phelps when they are initially paired together. Biggs also showed Phelps very little sympathy or respect because of his affair with Elsa Lichtmann. He regards Phelps as a self-aggrandizer with a hero complex, and takes pride in the fact that he has not fired a shot in anger since 1918.
- "Go soak your head, Phelps. This hero business is a full-time obsession with you."
- ―Biggs, after Phelps' suspicion that the Steffens and Sawyer house fires were connected.
While investigating the Steffens and Sawyer house fires, Phelps began to suspect and reason that the fires were connected. However, Biggs merely dismissed Phelps' suspicions as feeble attempts to restore his personal glory and heroism. Despite his own dislike for Phelps, Biggs sticks up for him early on when other officers like James Hopkins verbally abuse him.
- "It's okay. His name may be dog shit, but there's none on his hand."
- ―Biggs, when a patrol officer hesitates to shake hands with Cole.
Nonetheless, they solved the case which ended with Matthew Ryan's arrest. While investigating another house fire, Biggs was visibly disturbed by the sight of the remains of the Morelli family, after the coroner refering to the charred remains of the family as "evidence", Biggs replied to him in a disturbed tone "Evidence?", and runs out of the room. Biggs confided in Phelps his experiences at Belleau and vowed to kill the arsonist for the murder of the families.
After investigating Rancho Escondido, a housing development that burned down, Biggs and Phelps began to suspect a link of the arsons to Elysian Fields Development, and went to question Leland Monroe. However both Phelps and Biggs were later given threats (from Roy Earle and McKelty, respectively) to not investigate in Monroe's affairs, at this point both were able to settle their differences in order to close the case. They began to get along, work more cooperatively, trust and confide in one other.
They found out that known pyromaniac Herbert Chapman had been working as a waybill for Elysian Fields, handing out the promotional pamphlets to the areas with the house fires. They went to arrest Herbert, who fled, stealing a trolley. He eventually crashed the trolley, and was killed in a shootout with Phelps and Biggs. Phelps said he had serious doubts about Chapman and Monroe working together, seeing as the fires always seemed to benefit Elysian in some way. Herschel agreed, but said that the evidence was better for Chapman. Captain McKelty congratulated them, as he told them that he had his eyes on Chapman for as long as he could remember, and was happy to finally be able to wipe him off the scoreboard.
Unfortunately, Phelps and Biggs' investigation came to an abrupt halt, due to corruption and the influences of Monroe. However, thanks to Jack Kelso's own effort, the three discovered the conspiracy behind Monroe and the Suburban Redevelopment Fund.
Biggs and Phelps witnessed the Nicholson Electroplating Plant explosion from a safe distance. Their investigation of the explosion ultimately discovered the corrupt deeds of retired Vice Detective Vernon Mapes and ended with a shootout. McKelty praised both Biggs and Phelps for not only solving the case but for also putting an end to the notorious corrupt cop Mapes.
- "There's a time to talk, and a time to shut up. Now is the time to be quiet, son."
- ―Biggs, to the patrolman who tried to intervene during the confrontation between Phelps and Earle
After discovering the murdered body of Courtney Sheldon, Biggs stood back as Phelps confronted Roy Earle in Sheldon's defense. Biggs developed new found respect for Phelps for standing up against the corrupted. Like Phelps, Biggs highly disliked Roy Earle, once calling him "an asswipe". The two moved on to investigate the murder of Dr. Harlan Fontaine, within his office they discovered that the SRF's true goal was extortion not by insurance but through eminent domain. They quickly realized that the SRF put millions of dollars into circulation, adding that the properties' real value was next to nothing, in addition to the fact that a false higher claim would eventually be declared by California Fire and Life. Herschel didn't know how they would be able to prove any of it, due to Dr. Fontaine's death and the fact that Monroe nearly bled to death. He did however, believe that Jack Kelso would be their next target, and said that they were gonna have to move quickly.
Biggs and Phelps arrived to Jack's aid in order to save Elsa and apprehend the true arsonist. They were able to defend Jack from corrupt police chief William Worrell and arrived at the tunnel entrances. Phelps and Kelso entered the tunnel system while Biggs secured their exit. After pulling Kelso and Elsa safely out of the tunnel, Biggs and the others were too late to save Cole who simply uttered a final goodbye before being killed by a violent torrent of water.
Biggs attended Cole's funeral. While listening to Phelps' eulogy by Earle, Elsa stormed out visibly upset, prompting Biggs to go after her to console her. As he left, Biggs tells Kelso that "Kelso was never Phelps' friend", Kelso then replies "I was never his enemy." Biggs told Kelso he felt that Phelps knew that.
- "Phelps, I'm partnering you with Herschel Biggs. (Herschel: I don't do partners. You know that, Cap.) You do now, Biggs. Social basket cases like you two should get along just fine. Biggs will show you the ropes, Phelps. (Herschel: This is Arson. There are no ropes.) It shouldn't take long, then."
- ―Captain Lachlan McKelty on Phelps' and Biggs' partnership
Biggs was described as a "social basket case", mainly because of recluse and solitary style of work, hence is generally disregarded or treated like an outsider. Biggs is likely to have had a difficult life, from his poor upbringing to his experiences during the first World War, subsequently causing personal and emotional problems. After losing many friends in combat, he is likely prefers not to become close to anyone, a subconscious defense mechanism sometimes seen in traumatized combat veterans. Another reason for his lone nature is because Biggs has little concern for the rest of the force, mainly to avoid corruption and remain politically inactive.
Other than Phelps, the only people with whom he seems remotely friendly are Malcolm Carruthers and Albert Lynch. These relationships are based more on professional respect and shared dedication than any personal affection. Despite his standoffish nature, he is shown to have a strong sense of morality.
Despite his flaws, Biggs is an experienced and proficient detective. He is widely adept and knowledgeable in investigating arson and mostly committed to his work. Before partnering with Phelps, Biggs had a close working relationship with Albert Lynch, whom he also had great respect for. Biggs' partnership with Phelps helps Biggs evolve both as a character and as a detective, giving him the confidence to fight and stand up to corruption.
Biggs owns a two-tone green Hudson Commodore—and by the game's setting in 1947—the car is brand new. Biggs presumably bought the car himself and had it made his service police vehicle.
- "Upon Reflection" (Voice)
- "Armed and Dangerous" (Voice)
- "Warrants Outstanding" (Voice)
- "Buyer Beware" (Voice)
Street Crimes (Arson)
- At 55, Herschel is the oldest partner that Phelps gets to work with.
- Herschel is older than his superior officer, Captain Lachlan McKelty.
- Herschel smokes cigarettes heavily.
- Herschel's badge number is 525, as revealed in "Nicholson Electroplating".
- He is the only partner that does not appear in every case in their department, since he does not appear in House of Sticks and A Polite Invitation, the two cases played as Jack Kelso.
- He is the only partner who has known war experience, as he served in the 2nd Marines during World War I. The 2nd Marines, however, saw no combat in World War I, much less at Belleau Wood as Biggs claimed.
- In The Gas Man, he tells Cole that he had never fired his weapon in the line of duty until he and Phelps became partners.
- He is Cole's final partner before his death.
- Biggs is the first partner unveiled at the earliest L.A Noire trailer. Note the different actor.
- Biggs' jacket has black smudges, like ash, on the sleeves and bottom hem, quite fitting, as he is an Arson detective.
- Biggs is the games narrator.