The Walking Dead is based on some lengthy source material. To be precise, it is based on the 158 released (as of right now) issues of a comic book series of the same name. Robert Kirkman, the creator, has stated that he already has plans for all the way up to issue 200. With all of this material, it would be easy to pull straight from the comics for the television adaptation, but what fun would that really be? Let’s keep everyone on their toes! Let's keep everyone guessing all the time!
One reason for making changes to the television adaptation is very simply to serve audience members who have already read the comic books some suspense. If they knew every single turn Rick and his gang would make, the show wouldn’t have the opportunity to truly shock all of its fans, both those who have and those who have not read the comics. Other than that, there are also some changes that come directly from budgetary issues, because AMC can’t break the bank in order to make Kirkman’s every plot become reality.
The show has also taken some liberties in terms of death scenes and character identities. A few characters suffered awful screen transitions, leaving the television audience hating a character who is pretty kickass in the comics. Other characters shine so much brighter on the television screen than they do in the comics. For whatever the reason this variety of changes was made, they certainly provide us with an entertaining show.
While you wait for season seven of The Walking Dead, below are 17 ways the comic books and the television shows differ significantly.
14 There Is No Daryl In The Comics
Daryl Dixon is one of the most beloved characters on the show. In fact, his fanbase is so passionate that they've declared, “If Daryl dies, we riot.” Unfortunately, there is no way to predict his longevity or possible death because his character is not even in the comics. He’s not in the comics… at all. That's right! He’s a complete invention of the show, which is amazing considering just how much fans respond to his character.
For his lack of inclusion in the source material, Daryl’s character also has an easier time being a beloved character. There are no comic book standards to which he must live up. That is also the beauty of him to the writers, as they can give him any sort of storyline and the fans can’t necessarily get upset that it doesn’t ring true to the comics.
Any fan who only watches the show would never guess that he isn’t a core member of the comics, because that is just how well he fits into the show. Daryl Dixon, we all love you.
13 There Also Isn't A Beth
Beth Greene pretty much didn’t exist in the comic books at all. In the comics, Herschel has quite a few children other than Maggie, including Shawn, Billy, Lacey, Rachel and Susie. All of his children except Maggie die before they leave the prison.
As we know from the show, Beth survives the prison and goes on to have her own storyline at a hospital, which is also not in the comics. Her character arc is truly remarkable, as she successful grows from an innocent songbird who is not made for this world into a woman set on surviving.
Of course, it’s lucky that the comic book fans were spared having to go through her death on both the show and in the comics. Watching Beth die was seriously one of the saddest things on this damn show.
12 Tyreese Has Hershel's Death
The show has quite often traded one character’s death to another character. In this case, Hershel was served Tyreese’s comic book death on the show.
After The Governor takes him prisoner, Herschel is beheaded in front of his two daughters. This scene has a much stronger effect than Tyreese's beheading would have had on the show because seeing Beth and Maggie react to their father's death made it that much worse. In the comics, Hershel dies during The Governor's prison attack but in a much different way. After all of his children but Maggie have died, Herschel gives up on life and stays behind at the prison, where he is shot by The Governor.
In the comics, Tyreese has this epic beheading. On the show, Tyreese has one of the show’s oddest deaths, as he sees several characters who have passed away before he gives up and bleeds out.
11 The CDC Episode Doesn't Happen
Robert Kirkman has actually said that he regrets this episode of season one, as it gave away too much information about the disease, which is funny because it honestly didn't reveal a start or a cure or anything at all really. That being said, there is absolutely no CDC moment in the comic books. The characters are left without this little bit of guidance in the comics.
Other than this singular episode in and of itself, the episode didn't have much of an effect on the trajectory of the gang otherwise. Seriously, someone watching the series could just skip this episode and probably not even notice. Of course, Rick is told that even those who pass due to natural causes will also become zombies, which is a huge piece of information but the gang would have found that out eventually anyway. So, yeah, it's unnecessarily and doesn't go down in the comics.
10 Andrea Doesn't Suck In The Comics
Andrea probably wasn’t the absolutely worst character on the show. Instead, maybe one of Jessie’s annoying sons could get that award. She was, however, not very well-liked. On television, she wanted to kill herself for a little bit but gets over that and ends up shacking up with The Governor, which ultimately leads to her demise.
In the comics, she’s still alive and she doesn’t suck. Instead of all the annoying things she did on the show, in the comics, she's a very strong and determined character. She never hooks up with The Governor in Woodbury and is vital in building the prison up. She is also a sharp shooter, who becomes incredibly important to the group's defense against enemies. Because of her willingness to never give up, she and Rick connect and are in a solid relationship. It's such a solid relationship that Carl even calls her mom.
While Andrea's character on the show didn't really pan out this way, it seems that Michonne has absorbed an assortment of her qualities. Hey, at least we still get to see the good qualities of Andrea, even if it wasn't Andrea who showcased said qualities.
9 Carol Died, Sophia Is Alive
One of the biggest changes from the comics to the show is Carol, and that is mostly because she’s dead in the comics. We all know Carol as one of the smartest, most clever killers on the show. She survives. In the comics, she never becomes this lethal character. Instead, she has a short and mostly sad storyline. Like in the show, she is originally an abused housewife, who is dependent on others. In the comics, however, she dates Tyreese and after he breaks up with her, she tries to get into a weird three-person relationship with Rick and Lori but they turn her down because, y'know, that’s weird. After this rejection, she lets a zombie eat her as a form of suicide. At this point in the show, Carol will, at times, do anything to survive and does not depend on anyone. She is much, much different than her comic book counterpart.
One could argue that the change in Carol’s character on TV comes from the change in Carol’s daughter, Sophia, who died in the show but is alive in the comics. The loss of her daughter may have struck something inside of Carol and made her into the kickass woman she is on the show today.
8 Morgan Doesn't Have Stick Skills
The later television version of Morgan is mega different from the comic book version. We first meet Morgan in the pilot and he is basically the same as the Morgan we first meet in the comic books. It is not until Morgan’s character is reintroduced in both the comics and TV show that the differences began to surface.
When he shows up again in the comics, he is a crazed version of Morgan, who is trying to deal with the fact that his son is a zombie. He joins the group, adjusts to Alexandria and even sleeps with Michonne. He finally dies due to a zombie bite on his arm.
In the show, we see a bit of crazy Morgan when Rick, Carl and Michonne run into him. Morgan decides not to join the group then and stays out on his own. This being out on his own leads to his encounter with Eastman, who changes Morgan's philosophy on killing and teaches him his stick skills that he now has.
On the show, Morgan swears not to kill and seems to have no plans to bed Michonne, especially since she’s now paired up with Rick. Morgan is also still alive on the show. Due to the extreme changes to his character, it’s hard to say what will really happen to him on the show.
7 Mika And Lizzie Are Billy And Ben
The characters of Lizzie and Mika stem directly from the comic book characters Ben and Billy. Like Lizzie and Mika, Ben and Billy’s parents die on the show and the two boys are cared from by the group, specifically Andrea and Dale (who were an item in the comics, btw). Ben kills Billy but doesn’t hurt the brain, meaning Billy will be coming back soon – this sounds familiar, right? The group puts Ben in a tent and decides what to do with the nut job of a kid. Meanwhile, Carl decides for the group, sneaks into the tent and takes out Ben himself. Damn, Carl.
In the show, Lizzie’s the psychopath who kills poor, little Mika. After Tyreese and Carol decide what to do with her, Carol takes Lizzie outside and puts her down. The change for the television makes sense, as Carl already put down his own mother in the show, something that he didn’t do in the comics. The scene of Carl shooting Lori in the show already showed up the tough, hard side of Carl. There was no need for another scene in which Carl put someone down. In terms of Carol, this scene further showed her amazing arc from the abused housewife into a badass survivor. All around, the changes serviced the television characters very well.
6 Shane's Role On The Show Is Much Larger
Shane was around a lot longer on the show than he was in the comics but his character is still basically the same on both mediums. Yeah, he’s still Rick’s best friend who bangs Rick’s wife. Yeah, he slides into deepening madness due to the zombie apocalypse and his obsession with Lori. In the comics, Shane never makes it out of Atlanta. He doesn’t make it to Hershel’s farm in the comics, which is where the television show highlights most of his insanity.
His death is slightly different in the comics as well. In an altercation with Rick, Shane pulls a gun on him and seeing this, Carl shoots Shane in the neck. Rick later shoots the reanimated version of Shane. In the show, it’s Rick who initially kills Shane and Carl who kills zombie Shane.
However you slice it, though, Shane was a bad apple.
8. Bob Has Dale's Comic Death
The only thing Bob Stookey really has in common with this comic book character is his name. In the comics, Bob is a 50-year-old white guy who was the town drunk and later the town doctor at Woodbury. He suffers a heart attack and dies in the comics.
In the show, Bob is a way different person and has a way different storyline. Before becoming part of the group, Bob’s backstory is very mysterious, as he was traveling alone, but he doesn't seem to have any affiliation with Woodbury. He gets into a relationship with Sasha before the Terminus group kidnaps Bob and eats his leg right in front of his face. Bob, of course, has the last laugh, as he was bitten earlier that day. The Terminus group is eating zombie tainted meat.
In the comics, this cannibalism after being bitten was Dale's scene, instead of the whole having his stomach ripped open by a hungry zombie thing.
7. Hershel's Farm Differences
There are two major things that are different about Hershel’s farm in the show as opposed to the comic books. One major difference is simply how much friggin’ time they spend on that damn farm. Seriously, season two was basically all about Hershel’s farm and most fans find this season to be the low point in the series thus far. There is a reason for season two spending so much time on Hershel’s farm: AMC cut the budget. Setting the season in one central location helped fix the budgetary problems, while making for a lackluster season. The comics don’t spend nearly as much time sitting around this barn.
Another difference is the showdown with Hershel’s walker barn. In the show, Shane is still around and releases the zombies in a crazed rage. The zombies are shot down by the group, without anyone falling victim to a zombie. In the comics, the zombies escape on their own and bring down a few members of the Greene family before the situation is under control.
5 Terminus Is The Hunters
When the group arrives at Terminus, it is like a well-oiled machine. They have their whole cannibal camp down to a science, including the weird room where they take people to be slaughtered by hitting them with a bat, pulling their head back and slitting open their throat. They treat their victims more like cattle than humans.
In the comic books, there isn’t a “Terminus.” There is, instead, a group called The Hunters, who are also cannibals but work in a much different manner. They are nomadic and don’t lure people to one specific location for mass slaughter. This, of course, kept comic book fans on their toes while watching the television show, as they didn’t know what the group was heading towards when they were all making their way to Terminus.
4 Denise Has Abraham's Comic Death
With anticipation for season seven gearing up (here's a list of Everything We Know About Season 7 in case you're very curious), it only makes sense to speculate as to who will be at the end of Negan’s bat. Because Denise took Abraham’s comic book death, many are speculating that it may be him.
In the comic books, Denise is still pretty much the same character – the town doctor in Alexandria. She still patches up Carl after his eye is shot out. One major difference in the comic books is that Denise is straight, while in the television show, she was a lesbian and hooks up with Tara.
In the comics, she survives much of the war against Negan but is bitten by a zombie at the tail end. Denise decides against cutting off her zombie arm so she can have both hands to save her boyfriend’s life, whose leg was just blown off by Negan’s grenade. Her boyfriend lives but the zombie fever gets Denise and she passes, sacrificing her life for her boyfriend's.
Her television show isn’t nearly as heroic. While making a grand speech about being brave, Denise catches an arrow shot by The Saviors straight through the eye. This death was actually how Abraham went in the comic books. Perhaps as a slight nod to the death trade off in this scene, Dwight says that Denise wasn’t actually the one they were aiming for.
3 Michonne's Lovers Are Much Different
In the comics, Michonne has a much different trajectory with men. She dates Morgan, Tyreese and Ezekiel. Yes, they seriously pair her up with just about every black male character in the comics, which is an issue that the comic book fans can deal with. The show took another path and paired her up with Rick, making Richonne fans rejoice.
In the previous entry, we already hashed out how different Andrea's storyline is in the comics. She doesn't suck, is still alive and is dating Rick. Michonne seems to have adopted many of Andrea’s winning personality traits from the comics, being both tender when she can be but a killer when she must be. Now, she's even replaced Andrea as Rick's lover on the show. Though, Carl hasn’t full on started calling Michonne mom yet (as he does Andrea in the comics), the pair have always had a close relationship.
2 Negan Kills Glenn
With season seven on the horizon, the biggest question most fans have is, "Who does Negan kill?" Well, in the comic books, Negan slaughters Glenn with Lucille, his barbed wire baseball bat. Of course, this could actually stay the same in the show but with the mystery looming, we’ll throw this on the list for safe measure.
In the comics, Glenn loses the Eenie Meenie Miney Mo game and Negan bashes him with his bat. Glenn calls out Maggie’s name as he’s dying, which is sad as hell. If this happens on the show, I'll lose it.
Afterwards, Maggie blames Rick for Glenn’s death and leaves the group to stay at Hilltop, where she becomes a leader and has Glenn’s baby, who she names Hershel.
It could go just like this in the show as well, but only the first five minutes of season seven will tell.
2. Baby Judith Is Dead
In The Walking Dead, it is sometimes a bit unbelievable that Judith has made it this far. It seems like they wouldn’t have had enough food to feed her during their trek from the prison to Alexandria, y’know, when all the adult characters were starving and resorting to eating dog. Did someone have formula in their backpack? Maybe. That aside, the likelihood of her survival would be very slim and yet, she’s still alive. Even if the logistics of her life are sketchy, she is certainly an important character, though she hasn’t said a single word. She’s a beacon of hope for everyone on the show, and yet, she’s not alive in the comics.
In the comics, Lori survives the birth so there's no epic C-section moment in the books. Then, when The Governor attacks the prison, he orders Lori, who is carrying Judith, to be shot. She's shot in the back, falls and smothers Judith to death.
While the show is certainly bleak, to say the least, the comics take a much darker turn by killing off Baby Judith. Give us some hope, would ya, Kirkman?
1 Rick Loses A Hand
In the comic books, Rick lost his right hand some time ago, which is a major difference from the show… because, he still has both hands. In the comics, The Governor cuts off Rick’s right hand. In the show, The Governor is long dead and Rick still has his right hand and his left hand.
As to why they decided to skip Rick being handicapped, one could easily assume that the amount of work for the main character to have a prosthetic would simply be too much. Instead, they switched gears and substituted Merle as the amputee, who has appeared on the screen far less than Rick. Only time will tell if they decide to go down this route with Rick, which they certainly may. Considering the nature of the world in which these characters exist, it wouldn’t be out of line for anyone who lives along enough to be missing a limb or an eye, a la Carl.