It is incredible to see the kind of extraordinary phenomenon that The Walking Dead has become in the past eight years on the air. Thanks to the show’s critically acclaimed source material, everybody onboard for the show (fans and staff alike) all knew that the show had potential to become a big hit. However, no one could have possibly imagined that the show would be the ever prevalent staple of pop culture and the subject of wide global fanfare that it is today.
Speaking of the show’s source material, those familiar with the comic books would also notice that the show took some noticeable creative liberties with the subject matter, although it was something to be expected.
After all, as with any adaptation from any medium that hopes to launch onto the big or small screen, some changes need to be made so the show adaptation is accessible and durable onscreen. Some moments and storylines that worked stupendously on the page may not come off as strongly when adapted to the screen.
While some of these changes have become welcome additions to the ever growing lore of The Walking Dead, some decisions have been rather disappointing– either because certain changes do not live up to the high expectations from the comics or because the change completely deters from a great moment from the comics. For some examples and clarity, we are going to take the time to talk about some of the best changes that the show made from the comics, as well as some of their worst changes.
With that said, here are the 8 Best (And 8 Worst) Changes In The Walking Dead From The Comic.
16. Best: Rick/Michonne
It is almost an understatement to say that everybody loves the pairing of Rick and Michonne. They happen to be the ideal favorite pairing for the majority of audiences ever since the two hooked up in season 6.
The interesting thing is that, despite the pair’s infinite chemistry, they were never originally planned to get together, or at the very least, the two never hooked up in the comics. In the comics, Michonne was more closely paired with Tyreese, while Rick was always with either Lori or– believe it or not– Andrea.
If the TV version of Andrea was just as badass as her comic book counterpart, it wouldn’t be so hard to imagine the two being together. However, remembering just how much of a nuisance the TV version of Andrea was on the show, we don’t think that she and Rick would have sat well with fans at all. Michonne was the clear and better choice.
15. Worst: Judith Lives
This is a tricky one, because depending on which side of the fence one stands on, a strong argument can be made for this being a good change or a bad change. See, Lori’s death scene on the show is extremely different from her death in the comics.
In the comics, Lori (with baby Judith in her arms) was shot during The Governor’s attack on the prison. On the show, Carl is forced to kill his mother after she gives birth to Judith and in the midst of all of this chaos, Judith lives.
On one hand, this definitely made for a better and more satisfying ending for Lori’s character, but the downside is that the gang has been stuck with Judith for all this time. Like most baby characters, Judith has felt like nothing but an inconvenience who adds nothing to the show. We’re not saying we would have rather have seen the baby meet a grim end, but in the gist, she was not a great addition to the show.
14. Best: Hershel is more Likable
The comic book version of Hershel Greene is a lot more hard edged in the comics than he is on the show. Above many things, this comic book version of Hershel is basically a grumpy, grouchy, and outright cold old man.
The reason why this is an issue is that the main cast is already filled with enough hard edged characters and thus bringing this version to the show would have made the cast crowded with nothing but Debbie Downers. Thankfully, the showrunners made the right decision in deciding to make Hershel more likable and endearing.
Accompanied by a warm performance from Scott Wilson, this version of Hershel brought a welcome and enlightening heart to the show that helped give the characters a slice of hope when all seemed hopeless. It helped create a wonderful dynamic among the cast and we can’t imagine the show doing as well without this version of Hershel steering things along.
13. Worst: The Governor is Way Less Brutal
If one were to compare and contrast The Governor on the show with The Governor in the comics, one would notice that their appearances look rather different. However, the appearances of The Governor in both mediums is the least of all worries.
The biggest contrast of them all is that the TV version of The Governor was a wimp compared to his comic book counterpart. While he still made for a memorable villain on the show, the comic book version is much more ruthless in his antics.
Some of his “greatest hits” in the comic book universe include having Rick’s hand cut off in their first meeting. Later on, he even decapitates Tyreese. This kind of brutality, villainy, and unapologetic tyranny was missing from David Morissey’s performance and the general onscreen interpretation of the character.
12. Best: Carol’s Change
Carol in the comics is quite different from Carol on the show. Her comic book counterpart is– for lack of a better word– unstable. Let’s talk about her final issues to clarify just how unstable this version of Carol is.
During her final comics arc, Carol snaps after her relationship with Tyreese abruptly ends and her mental state is put into question. She spends several nights crying, attempts to end her own life, and tries to enter a polyamorous relationship with Rick and Lori.
When they turn her down, she allows a walker to chew her neck, hoping to die in peace. Andrea mercy kills her right before Carol turns into a walker. Most fans of the comic believe that the comic books handled Carol horrendously and prefer Carol on the TV show.
11. Worst: Jesus
One of the biggest disappointments from fans of the comics has been the onscreen portrayal of Jesus. In the comics, Paul “Jesus” Rovia was pivotal character among the cast. On the show, however, he has taking more of a backseat to the bigger players on the show; hardly even showing up for a supporting role and becoming something of a forgettable aspect of the show as an extremely minor character.
This is a real shame because fans have been awaiting the character’s television debut for so long now. In the comics, he was a smart, capable, and all around kick-butt member of the team who had his own storylines and could hold his own in combat.
10. Best: Bringing in Beth
Despite never appearing in the comic books and being introduced on the show as a completely original character, Beth quickly became a fan favorite among the show’s audiences.
Perhaps it was the character’s refreshing innocence that contrasted with the mostly gruff and hard edged cast of characters. Or it could have been the realistic brand of character development that helped flesh her out throughout each episode in a compelling manner. Maybe it was just the strong performance given by Emily Kinney.
Whatever the reason, fan latched onto Beth’s character hard and adored her right up until her death– a death that disappointed several of her fans. Beth surprisingly became one of the most beloved original characters that the show created.
9. Worst: Andrea
To anyone who has read the comics and watched the series, the television version of Andrea is worlds apart from her comic book counterpart. For 13 years, Andrea played a pivotal role in the comic series.
In addition to being a master marksman, she was in a relationship with Rick. Her demise came this year when she turned into a walker and Rick was forced to kill her. It was an awesome ending for an awesome character, but the television version of Andrea passed away four years sooner, and the TV version of her character was not awesome at all.
In fact, with all of the dumb decisions she made during her tenure (including accidentally shooting Daryl with a rifle) and her constant whining, the TV version was nothing like the comic book version, and fans were rightly disappointed with how the showrunners handled her.
8. Best: Sasha’s Death Scene
Sasha is another original character from the show who did not appear in the show’s comic book source material. When the actress who plays the character, Sonequa Martin-Green, was set to leave the show in order to claim a starring role on the brand new Star Trek: Discovery, fans were curious to see how her character on The Walking Dead would meet her demise.
We would soon find out that the character went out with a bang. In the comics, there is a situation where Rick tries to compromise with Negan to get a member of their group back and when that character is returned to them (with a sac over their head), it turns out to be a walker.
Sasha had a similar death on the show– only this time, when Negan opened a coffin to find a dead Sasha, she turned out to be a walker that was placed there to surprise him and his Saviors. It was quite the surprise and a solid sendoff of the character.
7. Worst: The CDC Reveal from the Season 1 Finale
Out of all of the things that Robert Kirkman (who created the comic book version of The Walking Dead) introduced to the show, the one thing that Kirkman regrets adding in is how he ended the season 1 finale, and it is easy to see why.
For those who don’t remember, the finale ends with Rick learning that everyone is already infected with CDC. Kirkman regrets revealing such a major twist so early in the series. He wished that it played out much slower like in the comics, where it is revealed much later in the series that Rick and company have been infected after Tyreese’s daughter was killed in what was supposed to be a joint suicide pact with her boyfriend.
6. Best: Having Shane Stick Around Longer
During the first two seasons of The Walking Dead, Jon Bernthal played a pivotal role on the show by playing Shane, who had a key role as one of the main players among the cast. He was one of the more interesting characters in the series history and his presence made for some incredibly dramatic moments, especially when alongside Rick.
What makes this all the more interesting is that the character did not spend nearly as much time in the comics. In fact, the comic book version of Shane was only around for a couple issues before he got killed off. His comic book death was much different as well.
In the comics, Carl shot Shane to prevent him from killing Rick. On the show, Shane was stabbed by Rick, only to return as a walker and get shot to death by Carl. It’s easy to say that the show had the better version of Shane– the show was all the better for keeping him around.
5. Worst: Tyreese
Out of all of the times where the show detoured away from the lore of the comic books, the show’s handling of Tyreese has to rank among one of the all time worst instances.
In the comics, Tyreese was one of the strongest (mentally and physically) characters onboard and more than deserved to be Rick’s second in command. He was an unrivaled character in the making who pounded and destroyed any walker that dared cross his path, using his signature hammer as his weapon of choice to combat the undead.
He was awesome, but the television version of Tyreese did no justice to his comic counterpart. The TV version was basically a babysitter, a whiner, and a lackey. Those who were fans of the comic books were constantly frustrated every week with the show’s poor interpretation of the phenomenal character.
4. Best: Creating Daryl and Merle Dixon
The television version of The Walking Dead has introduced a plethora of new characters that were not featured at all in the comic book, and none were as memorable as Daryl and Merle Dixon.
The Dixon Brothers turned out to be two of the most heralded, compelling, and charismatic characters to ever join the cast. This is especially the case with Daryl Dixon, who has become something of an icon ever since making his television debut. He is the unparalleled fan favorite and scene stealer among the cast.
Before Merle was killed off, he always played a perfect foil to the resident band of misfits. Merle was an untrustworthy fiend, but fans loved seeing him on screen as the guy who everyone loved to hate. The showrunners took a chance in creating these two completely new characters and it paid off in dividends.
3. Worst: Rick Keeps His Hand
For the last eight years of The Walking Dead, Rick has been the most boring character on the show. It seemed as though, in every instance, things happened to other characters around Rick and Rick merely reacted in his typical sad, monotone fashion.
Thus, Rick has remained the same gruff sheriff with a beard all this time, and it has made for an extremely boring character. The comic book version of Rick had much more character development than the television version and much of that has to do with the drama that surrounded Rick getting his hand chopped off during his first meeting with The Governor.
Recreating this on the show would have breathed new life into the TV version of Rick and given him some much needed development. Alas, the moment never happened and Rick has remained boring as a doorknob.
2. Best: Lori’s Death Scene
This is a tricky one, because depending on which side of the fence you stand on as a fan, a strong argument can be made for this being a good or a bad change. This is due to the fact that Lori’s death scene on the show is extremely different from her death in the comics.
In the comics, Lori– along with baby Judith– was shot during The Governor’s attack on the prison. On the show, however, Carl is forced to kill his mother after she gives birth to Judith.
The comic book version is certainly abrupt and shocking, but we prefer the more poignant ending to Lori that the show gave us due to the fact that, after several episodes of Lori’s annoying antics, her demise ultimately earned our sympathy.
We were begging for Lori to be killed off, and when she finally was, the show made us empathetic to her pain and suffering. This is an impressive feat, and we have to give the showrunners credit for that.
1. Worst: Dale’s Death
In the comic books, Dale had a pretty incredible death. At one point, Dale is bitten by a walker but decides not to tell anybody, choosing to conceal his wounds instead. So, when he gets captured by a group of cannibals, he’s basically traps them, screaming: “Tainted Meat!” It’s an amazing and powerful ending for his character.
The death of his television counterpart, however, is not so great. He was killed by a walker that Carl saw earlier, but didn’t tell anybody about. It was a lame situation that could have been easily avoided if Carl had spoken up.
On the other hand, the show recycled Dale’s comic book death and instead used it for Bob’s death. This was well and dandy, but it would have had much more impact if the scene was given the emotional gravitas of Jeffrey DeMunn’s performance as Dale.
What do you think? Are there any other changes from the comic book that were made for better or worse?
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