[Spoilers for The Walking Dead comic and TV show ahead.]
AMC's The Walking Dead - a brutal series about humans attempting to survive in a world that has become overrun by flesh-eating zombies - is one of the most talked-about shows on television. Based on Robert Kirkman's intense and violent comic book series of the same name, AMC's adaptation pulls in more viewers than any other show on cable. But how closely does the show follow the source material?
Now that Season 6 is underway, we want to compare where some of the the main survivors currently are versus where their comic book counterparts were at roughly the same point in their bleak journey. As the characters in the TV show fend off an attack from the Wolves and attempt to save the town from an enormous herd of zombies, the characters in the comic book were all in Alexandria, simply attempting to survive against whatever comes their way next. Are the characters drastically different, or is the show staying very true to beats from the comic?
NOTE: This character guide only covers events up to The Walking Dead #79 (right when the undead begin to head towards Alexandria) and the episode 'JSS', which is the most recent episode - at the time of writing this, of course. Setting this restriction places both versions of Alexandria immediately after an attack by another group of humans, and with the threat of more zombies on the horizon.
In the comic:
Rick Grimes has been the one to make the especially tough choices - the difficult and cold decisions that other survivors likely wouldn't be able to bear. How much humanity can someone truly hold onto when they view the practical approach as killing anyone in their way? He pushed to savagely slaughter the hunters - a group of cannibals - and he's done some truly twisted things to keep his friends and family alive. He even lost the woman he loves, his newborn daughter, and several friends, but despite all of the loss he's endured and lives he has taken, he hasn't completely lost sight of his humanity.
While in Alexandria, he knew that Pete - Jessie's husband - was a violent man, one who was being abusive to his wife and child. Rick gets into a brutal brawl with the guy after confronting him about the issue, and the event forces Pete to leave his family and live by himself. Eventually, the isolation gets to Pete, and when he approaches Rick with a knife, he instead ends up killing Douglas Monroe's wife, Regina. Heartbroken and full of hatred, Douglas tells Rick to kill Pete. Without a moment's hesitation, Rick pulls the trigger with a cold expression on his face (as you can see above). However, this is where the comic takes a path that is noticeably different from the show: Rick is the one who then pushes for Pete to be buried, not just tossed aside to rot or be eaten by a walker. Douglas was against this, but Rick convinced him it's the right thing to do because it's not for Pete, but instead for his family.
Another key difference between this version and the AMC one is that the comic book version of Rick is missing his right hand - it was chopped off by the Governor. Kirkman has stated he's against having this happen to Rick on the show. Rick also still pretends to hear Lori's voice when he picks up the phone, but the live-action version dropped that plot point a while ago.
In the show:
Just like his comic book counterpart, Andrew Lincoln's version of Rick Grimes has become a man who's willing to do anything and everything to keep the people he cares about safe. Even though his newborn daughter survived the bloody events at the prison, Rick has become a little more callous than Kirkman's version in the comic. He's seen the horrors of this world and he lets his tragedies define him - he knows what it takes to survive and he'll go to lengths that many ordinary people wouldn't want to. It's often "kill or be killed" in Rick's head, but Alexandria is allowing him to hone that back just a bit. His priority is and will always be doing whatever it takes to protect his people. If that means killing another human being who poses a clear danger, or allowing someone else to suffer a violent demise, so be it. With great leadership comes great practicality - if there's an obstacle, do what needs to be done to remove it. It's become that simple for Rick.
When Rick found out Pete was physically abusing his family, things played out similarly to the comic book. The big difference in the show is there's more chemistry between Rick and Jessie at that point, whereas in the comic Rick was solely focused on taking care of Pete during the earlier days in Alexandria. When Pete killed the spouse of Alexandria's leader, Rick once again got the green light to execute Pete, and he did so without any remorse. Knowing that Pete did terrible things, Rick firmly believed Pete wasn't worth burying. Why exert energy on such a man? Morgan attempts to serve as the voice of morality, but it doesn't seem to have any sway on Rick. What does eventually convince him to bury Pete is when he realizes what it would mean to Pete's son. He reached the same conclusion as his comic book counterpart about Pete's fate (bury him for his family, not for him) - it just took more time.
In the comic:
After waking up from his coma and exiting the hospital, Morgan Jones and his son, Duane, were the first living people Rick interacted with. They quickly parted ways, but when Rick found himself in the same region months later, he decided to go to the place where he originally met the father and son. Well, it turned out both were still there, but their situation had become quite different. Morgan was a caring father - even giving Duane a Game Boy for Christmas - but he couldn't prevent his son from being turned. He also couldn't bring himself to put this reanimated version of his son down once and for all, so he chained the child up.
Morgan took drastic measures to keep his son "happy". He killed multiple dogs and even some people, just so his zombie son could feast on them. Naturally, this took a bit of a toll of Morgan's psyche, and when Rick discovered what was going on, he attempted to convince Morgan to put a bullet in Duane's brain. Rick handed his friend a pistol and left so the man could be alone with his undead son. Rick and his allies hear a gunshot, and then a clearly broken man exits the home. However, it's soon revealed that Morgan couldn't bring himself to kill his son, and he instead chose to shoot the chain, setting his zombie son free to wander the world.
In Alexandria (up to issue #79, that is), Morgan doesn't play a significant role in the overall story, but he does have an interesting dynamic with Michonne. After the welcoming party in the town, the two end up bonding and then they sleep together. The next morning, Morgan expresses regret over their actions, saying it wasn't right of him to do that because his wife hasn't been gone for that long. This upset Michonne and she agreed it was a mistake. The two eventually have a heart-to-heart as Morgan explains his reaction, and says he'd like to get to know Michonne better. Michonne says "no" and then decapitates him with her sword.
Just kidding - we threw that in there to make sure you're still paying attention. Michonne is, of course, understanding of Morgan's previous emotional reaction and invites him in so the two can get to know each other.
In the show:
Lennie James' version of Morgan is playing a significant role in the story. Just like in the comic, he lost his son (although the son's full story isn't clear in the show) and that brought him to a dark place. He lost sight of who he was for a bit and vowed to clean up the town he was in by creating various traps. Eventually, he regained sight of who he was and decided to move forward, but now with a greater sense of purpose. As the world around him falls into darkness and people turn on one another, Morgan chooses to apply a strict no-kill code. Morgan's view is "Why take a life if there's another way?"
In the zombie apocalypse, most survivors arm themselves with sharp blades and a variety of firearms, yet Morgan wields a staff - a non-lethal way to disarm and take down anyone who threatens him. Morgan does find his way to Alexandria, and it's abundantly clear that the world has transformed him and Rick in completely different ways.
As Alexandria is attacked by a bloodthirsty group of human survivors who are armed with melee weapons, Morgan refuses to kill his vicious enemies. Even when he's outnumbered, he attempts to reason with them and requests for them to leave. Thanks to some staff skills that would impress even the likes of Gambit and Donatello, Morgan has what it takes to fend off anyone who attempts to take his life. He may have saved his own life and made them flee, but at what cost?
As the group makes a run for it, one of them is able to take a pistol. The odds of that coming into play are very, very good. Just when it seems like these enemies have fled, Morgan finds himself in an intense fight with one remaining opponent. It's left unclear whether Morgan's final blow kills the man - meaning Morgan accepts the fact that some people just won't stop hurting others until they're dead - or if he simply knocks the Wolf out and then probably ties him up. The latter seems more likely, though.
In the comic:
As expected, Rick was skeptical of Aaron - Alexandria's scout and recruiter -when he first approached the group. After hearing the stranger out, Michonne pushes for the decision to trust Aaron. After all, Alexandria sounds exactly like what the group has been struggling to achieve. When Douglas, the leader of Alexandria, asks Rick's group to put their weapons in the armory, Michonne requests to keep her sword. Douglas is against the decision, but a resident makes the argument that there are kitchen knives nearly as big in the homes, so Michonne should get to hold onto the sword - which she claims has sentimental value. Douglas allows Michonne to keep the blade, but under one condition: Michonne hangs it on the wall of her house. Naturally, Michonne agrees, and as she hangs up the sword, she reflects on her history with the sharp weapon before stating, "I'm through with you."
Even though Michonne's satisfied to finally have a remotely normal life once again, she does have some difficulty adapting. During a party, Michonne yells at one of the residents when they say they were "worried" about what they should cook her. They were simply being polite and hoping she'll like whatever dish they offer, but after all of the horrors Michonne has seen and considering she's fully aware of what lurks beyond Alexandria's walls, she couldn't help but feel stunned and frustrated to see the seemingly petty things these people think about.
After leaving the party, she meets with Morgan and the two bond over how difficult it is to see these people living ordinary lives. This brings them together and - as you know from the section about Morgan - they end up sleeping together. When Morgan feels depressed over his decision, Michonne calls the experience a mistake and walks away. Morgan later apologizes and the two enjoy breakfast together. Little do they know that a tsunami of zombies is heading right for the town...
In the show:
Just like in the comic, Michonne pushes to go to Alexandria and she becomes a constable in the town. But unlike the comic book version of Michonne, Danai Gurira's incarnation of the character is seemingly okay at the party. The show doesn't reveal her interacting with people inside of the house, but she does talk with a drunk Abraham outside of the party, and they have a lighthearted conversation. Afterwards, Michonne hangs up her sword. Unlike in Kirkman's comic, the character does not begin to develop a relationship with anyone, but she does assist in Rick's plan to lure a herd of walkers away from the town.
Fun fact: Instead of Michonne storming out of the party, it's Sasha Williams - Tyreese's sister, who was created just for the show - who lashes out.
In the comic:
When Rick's group enters Alexandria, its leader is a man named Douglas Monroe, a former congressman who is married to Regina and has a son, Spencer. Even though he's married, he often tries to sleep with other women and his advances are quite blunt. For example, he almost immediately makes his intentions clear to Andrea, and he explains to her that his marriage is purely political and it's just there just to keep their son happy. Andrea rejects him, but he continues to show interest in her.
When new people arrive in Alexandria, Douglas has a one-on-one meeting with each of them so he can suggest what role they'll play in the town. Douglas admits he's done dark things to survive - including murder - and becomes enraged when Heath, another resident, mentions the name Davidson. Eventually, it's revealed that Alexander Davidson was Douglas' friend, the original leader of Alexandria, and wasn't a good guy. Not only was he placing people in jobs they didn't want and placing others in danger instead of himself, but Davidson was also using his power to sleep with women - women who couldn't say no because he offered them protection. Eventually, this made one person take her own life, and that tragedy made Douglas aware of his friend's despicable actions. Douglas had no choice but to force Davidson into exile. He couldn't bring himself to shoot Davidson, but he knows forcing the man to leave was a death sentence, too. Despite his history with Davidson, Douglas overlooked Pete's actions because the abusive man was a doctor, and that made him valuable to the community.
When Pete murders his wife, Regina, Douglas has Rick kill Pete, and then he vanishes from the spotlight. Douglas begins to mourn and becomes quite depressed. No longer does he believe the town is safe, he expresses sorrow over his relationship with Regina, and he admits he's terrified of dying. He confesses that maybe Rick's crew is indeed more qualified to run things and there's a chance they'll survive longer with Rick in charge. After all, Rick is the one who suggested a lookout for the town - a move that he never even considered. As he tells Aaron he's afraid of dying, a swarm of walkers begin to approach the town.
In the show:
When Aaron brings Rick's group to Alexandra, the leader is a former congresswoman Deanna Monroe, who's played by Tovah Feldshuh. She's married to Reg, and they have two sons, Spencer and Aiden. Unlike in the comics, they have a happy relationship and the only sign of a dark and twisted history in the town is when Deanna admits she had to exile a few people. Here, much of the group has been incredibly lucky and they've yet to see what the world is truly like. It turns out that a vast number of local walkers have been trapped in a rock quarry and the noise from those walkers is attracting even more to the location. That explains why a herd has never crashed against the peaceful town's walls.
Just like in the comic, Deanna interviews each new member of the town, except in this case she records the conversations. The death of Aiden makes her question whether or not bringing Rick's group in was the right move, but after Pete kills her husband (and tells Rick to kill Pete), she begins to listen to Rick's suggestions more and more, and becomes somewhat detached from the community. She even agrees to refuse Pete burial inside the town walls. When the town is attacked by the Wolves, Deanna hides in a truck and her son, Spencer, stands guard. She survives the intense encounter, but we've yet to see how she'll continue to lead while Rick and several others are out of the town, attempting to deal with a herd of zombies who are now heading straight for Alexandria.
Maggie & Glenn
In the comic:
The happy couple was married by Hershel - Maggie's father - back in the prison, but life hasn't been so happy for them since then. While Glenn remains brave and continues to help out however he can, Maggie's fallen into a deep depression because she's lost so many loved ones. At one point she attempts to commit suicide by hanging herself, but the others are able to cut her down and save her from dying. This incident took a toll on their relationship, because Maggie feels like Glenn only sees sadness and despair when he looks at her. He continues to express nothing but love for her, but she hasn't been able to handle the tragedies well, and continues to worry whenever he puts himself in any potentially dangerous situation.
While in the town, Maggie becomes a teacher and Glenn goes on supply runs with Heath, a character who he gets along with quite well. Glenn and Maggie continue to take care of Sophia as well, because Carol died quite some time ago. Yup, one of the show's biggest badasses was killed in the comic before the group found Alexandria!
In the show:
Even though she's suffered so much loss, Maggie (Lauren Cohan( has been able to move forward and maintain a strong relationship with Glenn (Steven Yeun). Maggie serves as Deanna's assistant, and Glenn goes on supply runs. Unfortunately, Glenn's experience with his new "coworkers" isn't ideal; as he soon discovers they aren't fit to work as a team out in the zombie-infested world. Nicholas lacks courage, and his inability to act accordingly under pressure leads to the death of Glenn's friend, Noah. Obviously, Glenn doesn't shrug this off and he knocks out Nicholas before they return to the town. Glenn tells Nicholas he can no longer go on supply runs, and the coward doesn't take the news lightly. Not only does he lie about what truly happened during their unfortunate supply run, he also attempts to murder Glenn.
Glenn, being the awesome character that he is, overcomes and has Nicholas at his mercy. If it were up to Rick, Nicholas - someone who's a coward when things hit the fan and then attempted to kill a good guy for humiliating him - would be executed with no issue whatsoever. Glenn, however, spares Nicholas' life, knowing that the ordeal has likely given the guy a much-needed epiphany about the way the world is now and how he needs to act. If Glenn can spare his life after all of that nonsense, surely it would make Nicholas realize that he needs to at least try to be a better person. Thankfully, Glenn's lesson was absorbed, and when Rick needs help dealing with the herd of walkers, Nicholas volunteers to assist despite Glenn not wanting him to.
Maggie may not be playing a pivotal role in the show, but Glenn continues to show that someone can adapt to the post-apocalyptic scenario and become a total badass while still firmly holding onto their humanity - no matter how far they're pushed.
In the comic:
Carol died before the group went to Alexandria. Instead of finding the strength to move forward, the terrible world and all of the unfortunate situations that happened just pushed her further and further away from happiness. From Tyreese cheating on her (with Michonne!) to believing everyone thinks she's crazy, Carol attempting to take her own life by slitting her wrists. She was never able to recover and she eventually committed suicide by letting a tied up walker bite her. Upon resurrecting, Andrea shot her in the head. Before allowing the walker to kill her, Carol made sure Lori would look after Sophia in case anything happened to her. In Alexandria, it's Glenn and Maggie who are raising Carol's daughter.
In the show:
Just like her comic book counter-part, Melissa McBride's Carol had a rough path. She had an abusive husband and she faced even more terror when her daughter went missing, turned into a zombie, and was executed. These events could shatter a person, but Carol carried forward and transformed into someone who will survive for as long as they possibly can. Just like Rick, she's a survivor and she applies a sometimes cold-hearted yet practical approach to the world they live in. That isn't to say she's lost sight of her emotions, though.
She's proven to be one of the most formidable characters around and became incredibly gifted at combat and infiltration. When they arrived in Alexandria, she started putting on an innocent housewife act so she could gain their trust and learn as much as possible about the town. Jessie's youngest son caught Carol stealing weapons, and when the little boy said he'd tell his mother, Carol gave him two options. Option one: Tell on her and then wind up tied to a tree, and eventually ripped apart and consumed by monsters. Or option two: Keep the secret and then get some delicious cookies. He chose the cookies.
When the Wolves attacked, Carol sprung into action. After killing one of the intruders, she wore his outfit so she could blend in and allow herself to get the better of the attackers. She killed many of them and ended up mercy killing one of Alexandria's residents so she could remain out of sight from the brutal invaders. The Wolves may be vicious, but Carol's an efficient killer. Without her in Alexandria, it's very possible the town would have been overwhelmed.
In the comic:
While many people are happy to have found Alexandria, Rick's son, Carl, is having a tough time adapting. He immediately gets into a conflict with another child and he's upset that the people in Alexandria are living as if the apocalypse never happened. This is a child who has already killed a murderous kid and shot Shane Walsh in the neck a long time ago. He's taken his father's "do what must be done" approach to heart. He believes that Alexandria won't last, and that when it does finally fall, it will have made him unfit to survive in the world. We're only taking up to issue #79 into account in this article, but we can't help but tease the fact that something major happens with him several issues later.
In the show:
Chandler Riggs' Carl Grimes is far more open to the idea of living in Alexandria - so far, at least. Unlike the comic book version of him, the live-action Carl began to connect with the kids in the town and he's amazed at how he and his family can now live. He's still tough - for his age, obviously - and he's gone through hell (he shot his own mother before she could turn into a zombie), but so far, his time in the town is going over much better than it did for comic book Carl. His connection to Enid - a character who was created for the show - helped his transition as well.
The big difference here is Carl's added responsibility: Taking care of his baby sister, Judith. Judith died in the comics, but on AMC, Carl and everyone else are still doing their best to look after her. The desire to protect his baby sister makes him glad they found Alexandria, and when the Wolves started attacking, protecting her was his top priority. However, it looks like the town might be making Carl softer because when a Wolf was down and pleading for his life, Carl didn't pull the trigger right away, and this allowed the aggressive enemy to grab him. Carl was still able to kill the Wolf, but one can't help but wonder if Carl previously would have opened fire immediately.
In the comic:
He doesn't exist! The character was created for the show.
In the show:
Given his survival instincts and lack of comfort being in the suburban setting, Aaron offered Daryl (Norman Reedus) the chance to become Alexandria's new recruiter. The job is simple: Venture out into the dangerous world and observe any potential survivors. If they seem like a good fit for the community, eventually approach them and make an offer. With the Wolves nearby, this is a very dangerous position for Daryl. But that's a threat for another day, because at the time of writing this, Daryl is playing an important role in luring the herd away from Alexandria by slowly riding ahead of them on his motorcycle. The plan backfired when noise at Alexandria lured the herd towards the town, so it's unclear what's next for Daryl. He'll obviously play some kind of role in whatever plan is generated to save the town from the undead. Whether or not they succeed is, of course, a whole other story.
Heath & Scott
In the comic:
Heath and Scott are Alexandria's gifted supply runners. When you're running around in the Walking Dead's universe, though, a person's luck will eventually run out, and that's exactly what happened to Scott. After an unsuccessful jump, Scott severely injured his leg. The two are able to make it back to Alexandria, but Scott never properly recovers from the injury and passes away. The loss of his good friend greatly impacts Heath, but through the tragedy, he's able to bond with Dr. Cloyd, and they eventually hook up. Health also gets along very well with Glenn during the supply runs and is able to save his life at least twice.
In the show:
Heath (Corey Hawkins) and Scott (Kenric Green) missed out on all of the madness that occurred shortly after Rick's group arrived. The show has yet to show any major interactions between the duo and a majority of the new characters, but Eugene - who, along with Abraham and Rosita, stays very true to his comic book counterpart - respects Heath's "hair game". More importantly, Heath worked with Glenn during Rick's mission to deal with the herd. Hopefully Scott will play more of a role than he did in the comic.
In the comic:
The Wolves don't exist in the comic. However, a less maniacal group of human survivors do attack the town. As their leader approaches the gate and threatens Rick, he vastly underestimated the people he was attempting to intimidate. Thanks to Rick having a reliable sniper of their own (Andrea), Rick's group makes short work of the human opponents. It's a short-lived victory, though, because all of the gunfire is heard by a shocking amount of zombies.
In the show:
Not much is known about the Wolves other than the fact they're brutal and seemingly heartless humans. They attack other humans, create traps, steal supplies, and they're known for carving a "W" on foreheads. When they attacked Alexandria, they rushed in with melee weapons and fire bombs. They attempted to slaughter everyone in their way, but Carol was able to kill quite a few of them. Morgan is able to scare several off as well, but one grabs a pistol before leaving the town. It's unclear how many are still alive, but it's very likely we haven't seen the last of them. They're just lucky Rick, Daryl, Michonne, Glenn, and several others weren't in Alexandria when they attacked - that really wouldn't have gone well for them.
In the comic:
She's not in there! Just like Daryl, Sasha's a character who was created for the show.
In the show:
Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) somewhat feels like a mix of the comic book versions of Maggie and Andrea. Andrea for the fact she's a sharpshooter, serves as a lookout in Alexandria, and Spencer briefly tried to connect with her. And Maggie because she's suffered loss after loss and it continues to take a major toll on her psyche. (Then again, that technically applies to a number of characters in the comic, doesn't it?) Because of this, she tends to remain relatively quiet (compared to others, that is) and she's helping Rick in the plan to protect Alexandria from the sea of zombies. She claims she no longer wants to die, but the character has yet to have a standout moment in Season 6. Only time will tell how she reacts now that the plan has backfired.