Everybody loves Rick Grimes and his band of survivors. But let's face it, what really sets The Walking Dead apart, in both the comic and the show, is the strength of its villainous game outside of the omnipresent zombies. We were most recently "treated" to Negan making the jump from the comic books to the television show. Some differences have already popped up, but if the comics are any indication, we are in for a hell of a ride.
Overall, the television show has done a better job of creating more memorable villains, even occasionally creating some that did not exist in the comic book at all. And yet, for all the gloom and doom in the show, the comic book does a better job of illustrating the horror and depravity of a world after society crumbles. As you will soon learn if you didn't already know, the villains in the comic have done some things that might even make their television counterparts queasy.
There are plenty of other differences between the villains in the comic and show than what we have here. But we have decided to highlight these 15 for you. Be forewarned that there might be potential show SPOILERS at the #1 slot. Bon appetit!
This might, at first blush, appear to be totally innocuous. Considering, though, how many complex fan theories are out there and how many little Easter eggs and hints are put into the show, it is pretty safe to say that this is no mere accident. In the comic book, The Governor had facial hair and Negan does not. In the television show, Negan has facial hair and The Governor did not. "So what?" you might ask. Well readers, it's been scientifically proven that facial hair promotes the idea of a man being trustworthy.
The study actually covered just beards and extrapolated it to all facial hair, and that's perhaps a flaw in the study. We're tempted to say, despite the research, that the comic Governor's 'Lemmy' mustache (in combination with his grungy long hair) was meant to make him appear scummy and not trustworthy. We're also tempted to say that David Morrissey was cast to be the exact opposite of that, appearing to be a squeaky clean and wholesome politician type (who turns out to be a complete psychopath). Make no mistake though -- the facial hair removal was absolutely intentional.
With Negan, giving Jeffrey Dean Morgan's portrayal a beard does appear to have added some credibility to the character. Only time will tell just exactly how deceitful or sincere Negan in the show is. What we do know, though, is that it must be awfully difficult to keep a babyface in the zombie apocalypse.
Maybe calling The Governor from the show a complete psychopath in the last entry was a bit much. A more accurate way of describing him is as a sociopath. That is to say that the man had a conscience... albeit a weak and misguided one. In the show, The Governor seems to have little issue with manipulating people and killing innocents to maintain control and acquire resources. When he fails to attack Rick's prison stronghold with the civilians of Woodbury as an army, he winds up executing the retreated civilians, prompting his formerly loyal henchmen to abandon him. After Woodbury, in a weakened state, he finds a family that he gloms onto (using an alias). He develops a protective bond with the family and, when they stumble upon the camp belonging to The Governor's former right hand man Martinez, things start to go downhill, and The Governor eventually stages a coup of the camp with a series of assassinations. In control of another group, The Governor convinces them to attack the prison (again), and the failed attack is where the villain's story finally ends.
The Governor in the comic is more of a psychopath than sociopath. As we will discuss later, certain atrocities are committed by the Governor, and he doesn't exactly hide himself as a genteel type. After suffering a number of injuries, The Governor rallies his Woodbury army (and not the citizenry) to attack the prison. The comic plot fails just as it does in the show, and that's where The Governor dies.
The whole Grady Hospital storyline belongs to the show only, and we'll count that as a point in the show's favor. Beth, Maggie's little sister and another show-only character, is on a little trip out with Daryl when she's kidnapped in a hearse and brought into Atlanta. She is tricked into thinking she was 'saved', and that she now owes it to the staff of the hospital (and the police officers that lord over the compound) to work off her debt. The hospital is rife with corruption and deceit, and the officers display some of the worst traits that humanity holds.
The person at the top (at least in name) is Officer Dawn Lerner, the primary antagonist of this story arc. She's doing her best to hold things together and rules as a strict tyrant. The big problem is that she doesn't exactly have the rest of the hospital (most especially, her fellow officers) under control. As such, she turns a blind eye to the atrocities committed by the cops, even allowing them to rape indiscriminately. Officer Dawn dies at the hands of Daryl, but only after killing Beth (and bumming us all out).
In the comics, The Hunters are introduced after spotting Rick's group in the aftermath of the horrific twins incident. In his grief, Dale lets his guard down and is bitten by a zombie. Hiding the bite from everyone, he splinters off from the group to die alone when he is kidnapped by The Hunters. Dale awakens to find that his one remaining leg is being eaten by The Hunters. While the group seems to be getting a sadistic pleasure over taunting Dale with the news, Dale has the last laugh when he informs them that they're eating "tainted meat".
Using Dale as bait, The Hunters unsuccessfully attack the group. Rick follows them to their hideout where he learns that they became cannibals because they weren't good at hunting animals... so they started eating their own children (!!!). They are subsequently slaughtered by Rick's group in brutal fashion.
While truly appalling for what they are and for how easily Rick's group might've followed the same dark path (Rick even threatens to try eating them), Terminus made for great TV and false hope. Following the fall of the prison, Rick's splintered group begin finding their way to a place called Terminus, finding out about it from signs and broadcasts offering "Sanctuary for all. Community for all." The converted train terminal winds up being a sort of spider's web for unsuspecting refugees. People expecting sanctuary are systematically butchered for meat, feeding the cannibal group. Carol frees Rick’s group, who later slaughter the Terminus folk during their failed revenge attack.
We've previously touched on this in another article, but it is a pretty massive difference that warrants mention here. In the comics, the prisoners that Rick's group find living in the prison are led by a man named Dexter (who had been incarcerated for murder). When Hershel's tween daughters are savagely killed, Rick's group turns on Dexter and imprisons him. Dexter instructs his fellow surviving inmate Andrew to secure the prison's armory in order to repel Rick and company. It soon comes out that one of the other surviving inmates, Thomas Richards, killed the girls, though his comeuppance arrives soon after (he's killed when he attempts to murder again, even while in custody). Dexter uses the guns taken from the armory to force Rick's group out (including turncoat inmate Axel) when zombies attack. Rick teams up with Dexter to eliminate the threat, but sneakily kills Dexter in the scrum.
In the television show, there is no Thomas Richards murder storyline. Dexter, too, does not exist. Instead, the prisoners are led by a former inmate named Tomas, who's a far less gracious and participating host than Dexter. Tomas purposely attempts to kill Rick by not-so-accidentally taking a swing at him and pushing more zombies upon him. Rick kills Tomas, but the killing seems more justified than the killing of Dexter in the books (as Tomas was actively trying to kill Rick, while Dexter just wasn't letting Rick stay in the prison).
In the comics, a group called The Scavengers wind up at the gates of Alexandria during the funeral for Pete Anderson (see below). The gang found Alexandria by way of Glenn and Heath's motorcycles and Rick firing his gun. The Scavengers showed up at Alexandria and the leader, Derek, appropriates the famous line from The 3 Little Pigs in telling Rick, "Little pig, little pig, let me in." To prove they meant business, a laser sight from a sniper was trained on Rick. Andrea, Alexandria's sniper, quickly took out The Scavengers' sniper and Derek both. Rather than give up, the rest of the gang attacked Alexandria, and while they were unsuccessful, they attracted a zombie horde, resulting in a number of Alexandrians dying. The relative ease of dealing with The Scavengers gave Rick and his group a false sense of bravado, making their eventual encounter with The Saviors all the more distressing.
In the show, there was a much bigger build-up to its analogue to The Scavengers, The Wolves. The latter group were a nihilistic gang of, well, scavengers. (Note that they were called The Wolves as a nod to Derek's "Little pig" recitation.) The Wolves proved to be more successful in their assault on Alexandria, as they managed to breach the walls and incite a drawn-out firefight. The Wolves attempted to get in first by crashing the gates with a truck. When Spencer Monroe killed the driver, it set off the horn and drew a zombie horde that resulted in a number of Alexandrians dying.
As we've discussed in the past, the Carol we know and love from the TV show is dramatically different from the Carol of the comics. In the comics, Carol's husband never appears. It is discussed that he'd committed suicide after the zombie outbreak, prompting Carol and her daughter Sophia to move to Atlanta for safety. Apart from abandoning wife and daughter, nothing bad is ever said about comic Carol's husband.
The television show, however, made Carol a part of a small, surviving nuclear family. Along with daughter Sophia, Carol's husband, Ed, was also around when the show picked up. Ed was a minor antagonist in the show, but his reprehensible behavior is among the most vile of all the bad guys. Ed was an abusive husband, was nearly provoked to violence against Andrea for having stood up for Carol, and it was intimated that he had inappropriate relations with his young daughter. When Ed struck Carol in front of the group, Shane savagely beat Ed. Ed spent the rest of his days sulking and recovering in his tent, and was gobbled up by zombies; sparing us more of that human waste. To prevent Ed from coming back, Carol popped him full of holes with a pickax in a moment of catharsis.
Calling Shane a villain is a great oversimplification. More accurately, Shane was a distraught and uneven man who was driven primarily by noble intentions and ultimately reached his breaking point. In the comics, this happens very fast. Rick Grimes had been in a coma when the zombie outbreak began, so Shane took Lori and Carl to safety, and developed an intimate relationship with Lori when it was assumed Rick would not return. When Rick found the survivors, Lori went back to her husband and spurned Shane. The latter soon began to unravel, as the woman he'd fallen for had left him and his leadership of the group was being challenged by the presence of Rick. In the woods, Shane let it all out and blamed Rick for all the bad in his life, leveling his gun at his best friend in the process. Carl shot and killed Shane to defend Rick.
In the show, Shane manages to stick around for the first two seasons, where he serves as the co-alpha male with Rick. The backstory is the largely the same, and as Shane lives past his comic counterpart, his behavior becomes more merciless. His philosophy for dealing with the world post-zombie outbreak becomes less in-line with the largely moralistic group of survivors. After the unhinged Shane commits a few unwarranted murders, it became clear that he was plotting to kill his romantic rival. Rick instead kills Shane, and Carl, having witnessed the incident, saves Rick from Shane's re-animated corpse.
In both the comic and the show, Martinez plays one of the most trusted henchmen/assistants/generals to The Governor. In the comics, Martinez orchestrates an escape for Glenn, Rick, and Michonne. While it's not entirely clear why he does this, it does appear that this was a plan cooked up by The Governor, in order to find the location and weaknesses of the prison stronghold. Martinez does help the survivors fight off a zombie attack, but is then caught escaping back to Woodbury. According to Martinez, he was only going bring back the 'good' Woodbury citizens, but Rick decides that he can't trust him, and subsequently strangles him to death. In all likelihood, Martinez was working for The Governor, but thanks to some smart maneuvering by creator Robert Kirkman, we'll never know.
Show Martinez wasn't as deceitful (or potentially deceitful) as comic Martinez, but wound up following The Governor all the same. Martinez rolled with the mad man despite knowing how terrible he truly was. In fact, Martinez was complicit in a number of the atrocities committed by The Governor. Things changed, however, after the massacre of the Woodbury civilian army following their retreat from the prison. When it became apparent that The Governor had completely lost it, Martinez abandoned him, and wound up becoming the leader of his own group. As we discussed earlier, The Governor and his adopted family wound up coming across that group, and Martinez was later assassinated by The Governor with a golf club and a pit of captured walkers.
To be an abuser is to be a villain, plain and simple, but to compound that black mark with actually rage murdering someone puts you on a whole new level. In both mediums, the "good" Doctor Pete Anderson of Alexandria is content to treat the townsfolk by day and terrorize his family by night. Alexandria's citizens are content to look the other way when it comes to the domestic issues... until Rick Grimes comes to town. Rick immediately picks up on the goings-on and looks to put a stop to it, imploring the leader of Alexandria (Douglas Monroe in the comics and Deanna Monroe in the show) to let him put a permanent stop to the abuse.
Making things a little less black-and-white is the fact that Rick has taken a liking to Pete's wife (both in the show and comic). Comic Pete, after a confrontation with Rick, is moved to a new house away from his family. Angered by this, he makes an attempt on Rick's life with a knife. Douglas' wife Regina steps in to try to calm Pete, who instead slashes Regina's throat. Douglas immediately consents to the execution of his wife's killer. Show Pete, meanwhile, comes at Rick (while drunk) with Michonne's katana. He accidentally kills Deanna's husband Reg with it as he tries pushing Reg out of the way, though the accidental disclaimer doesn't save him. As in the comic, the Monroe in charge consents to Rick shooting Pete then and there.
One place the show absolutely has the comic licked is in the villainous characters serving under the main antagonists. In the comic books, notable henchmen or assistants are few and far between. In fact, most readers of the comic would have a tough time coming up with the names of anyone that fits the bill outside of the aforementioned Martinez and Dwight (for Negan). The show has learned that it is often a good idea to share the wealth (of evil) with other characters instead of maxing out the nasty of their big bad.
Martin of Terminus holds baby Judith Grimes hostage and threatens to kill her and kidnaps Bob for food. Officer Gorman is a habitual sexual abuser at Grady Memorial Hospital. Simon has only just appeared on the show, but he has all the trappings of a true threat in his role as right-hand man for Negan and The Saviors. There are also several less notable henchmen, but it is apparent that the show has figured out how to successfully tap into the idea of 'assistants' in wrongdoing.
David Morrissey's portrayal of The Governor is nowhere near in danger of being accused of not being bad or crazy or evil. Far from it. The comic book version of The Governor, though, manages to be far more overtly evil, as he is (for lack of a better term) a comic book caricature of a villain.
Very quickly after capturing Glenn, Michonne, and Rick, he reveals just how depraved and ruthless he can be. During his first conversation with Rick, he cuts Rick's right hand off to show that he's serious. Michonne attacks The Governor in retaliation, and this causes The Governor to single her out for a most especial punishment. He has her tied up in a dark cell and alternates beating her and forcing himself on her for days on end (a helpless Glenn, meanwhile, is within earshot of it all). He finally forces Michonne (by offering to quickly kill her instead of continuing the cycle of abuse and torture) to fight another person while ringed by chained zombies for the entertainment of Woodbury's citizens. Later, in the assault on the prison, The Governor has one of his crew (Lilly) gun down Lori Grimes and her baby, Judith. As if all this weren't vile enough, he pulls the teeth from his zombified young niece and proceeds to make out with her. Lovely stuff.
In the television show, The Governor manages to keep most of his good looks intact until his death. The one injury he suffers is at Michonne's hand, who takes glass from The Governor's zombie head aquarium collection and stabs out one of his eyes. Obviously, that doesn't sound like a walk in the park, and it cannot be understated how rough it would be to lose an eye (especially from a shard of jagged glass).
In the comic, however, The Governor is more of a walking, talking, dissection lesson. Be warned, this gets very graphic. After The Governor removes Rick's hand, Michonne jumps on him and bites one of his ears off. Michonne later escapes from bondage in Woodbury, where she ambushes The Governor and unleashes holy hell upon him. She bites part of his neck out, and knocks him out with the hilt of her katana before stripping him and tying him up. She then takes a power drill to his shoulder and pulls his fingernails out with pliers. Then Michonne severs his arm and cauterizes it with a blowtorch. When all that's done, she digs out one of his eyes with a spoon and castrates him. So if you didn't know before, Michonne is not one to be crossed. Ever.
One of the most interesting and layered characters in the show was an original creation for the small screen. It's been a while since we've seen him, but Daryl Dixon's older brother Merle was every bit as interesting as his baby bro. Of course, Merle was quite a bit more demented and quite a bit more unlikable, but still...
Merle is one of the initial survivors that Rick comes across in Atlanta. The elder Dixon gets into a fight with fellow survivor T-Dog because of Merle's racism. Rick proceeds to knock Merle out and handcuff him to a pipe on the roof of a building, where Merle is abandoned (even though Rick has a failed change of heart). Needing to escape, Merle cuts off his own hand and disappears. Merle later appears in Woodbury, where he is working for The Governor (and outfitted with an improvised bayonet arm). Merle does some despicable things for The Governor and the people of Woodbury, but is ultimately branded a traitor to Woodbury to further The Governor's agenda. Merle escapes Woodbury along with Daryl, and the two go off to forge their own path, where they get into ideological fights that illustrate how Daryl's moral compass has been righted. Eventually, the Dixon boys find their way back to the prison and incorporate Merle back into the group. Merle plays enforcer, and becomes a part of Rick's plan to negotiate with The Governor using Michonne. Eventually, Merle makes a failed attempt on The Governor's life and is killed by the one-eyed baddie in a way that dooms Merle to reanimation. Daryl winds up having to kill his own zombified brother, and we are left with a large love/hate hole in our hearts for Merle Dixon.
In the comics, Negan's first trip to Alexandria after having killed Glenn results in Carl stowing away in one of the supply trucks The Saviors had brought in. Upon returning to Sanctuary, Carl guns down several Saviors in an effort to kill Negan and make things right. Carl is instead captured and essentially given a tour of the villain's facilities. Negan is impressed by Carl's resolve even as a little kid, and, despite scaring him intentionally (and making him cry over the state of his wounded face), he later returns him to Rick safe and sound.
In the show, it appears as though Daryl has taken Carl's place. When Daryl attacked Negan for badgering Rosita with Lucille (the baseball bat) covered in Abraham's blood, Negan was impressed. Granted, not so impressed that he didn't also kill Glenn for having been punched... but impressed enough to press gang Daryl. At this point in the show, Daryl is being subjected to a sort of brainwashing regimen (that includes solitary confinement, dog food, and "Easy Street") in the hopes that he will become a loyal Savior. While it's no sure thing that the Carl storyline won't also play out as well, it does appear as though Daryl is Negan's golden boy and the uneasy and oddly touching father-son bond Negan has for Carl may never come to pass.
What other major changes have the villains of The Walking Dead gone through in their jump from the comics to the small screen? Do you wish the show was more like the source material, or vice versa? Sound off in the comments.
Season 7 of The Walking Dead continues next Sunday at 9pm on AMC.