In 2003, over half a decade before AMC's zombie drama mega-hit The Walking Dead premiered on television, Robert Kirkman's first graphic novel in a soon-to-be massive series, was published. Kirkman's series was well-received, but relatively unknown, as the zombie genre frequently drifts in and out of popularity. By 2010, the genre was at a peak, with blockbuster hits such as I Am Legend, Zombieland, and a remake of George Romero's 1978 hit, Dawn Of The Dead.
The Walking Dead premiered on October 31, 2010. Its first season only consisted of six episodes - not a whole lot of time to develop intriguing characters and storylines, but enough time for Frank Darabont and his talented, tight-knit cast. Having now been on the air for nearly a decade, The Walking Dead has far surpassed the comic series that inspired it, in popularity. But that doesn't mean that the show does everything better than the graphic novels that came before it. Both series are unique in their own ways.
10 The TV Series: Likeable Characters
Kirkman's comics never bothered to hold back from the gritty brutality of human nature. The series presented many characters with ambiguous moral compasses. Not only the antagonists, but even fan-favourites such as Rick, Maggie, Michonne, and Carl's personalities bore stark contrast between that of their TV show counterparts.
In the show's case, it was a lot easier for fans to quickly get attached to characters, because they were portrayed as having more simplistic personalities. Survivors like the beloved Glenn Rhee were purely good, and their intentions were rarely questionable. This made falling in love with TWD's TV show characters quite a lot easier than falling in love with the comic series' characters.
9 The Comics: Realistic Dialogue
Here's an interesting tendency that the TV series version of The Walking Dead has developed in more recent years: its characters constantly speak as if they write inspiration quotes for a living. In stark contrast to TWD's early seasons (in which the characters interacted with one another organically), the show nowadays only provides stilted dialogue for its cast.
This isn't the case for the graphic novels. With a hundred and ninety issues so far, Robert Kirkman still manages to write realistic dialogue for his characters, and have them speak like real people do.
8 The TV Series: Believability
Though the characters' extreme overuse of purple prose is one of the most unrealistic aspects of TWD, the show boasts more believable aspects than the comics do.
The TV series is, in many ways, a much more watered down version of the comics. While the books deal with very heavy, controversial issues and are much more hardcore, the TV series usually prefers to play it safe. The comic characters may interact with each other in a more realistic manner, but the TV series maintains its believability by remaking the extremely far-fetched situations into something more realistic.
7 The Comics: Characters' Survival Skills
Since the comics came way before the TV series, The Governor, Negan, The Whisperers, and nearly every other hardcore TWD antagonist were brainchild of Robert Kirkman and the rest of the graphic novel authors.
It was in the comics that readers were introduced to brutal characters such as Alpha, who created the Whisperer pack and invented the idea of wearing the dead's skins as disguises. The TV show's portrayal of this is definitely impressive, but nothing beats the comics' original portrayal. In a post-apocalyptic situation, it's believable that people would do whatever they could to survive, no matter how brutal, and the comics accurately demonstrate this.
6 The TV Series: Negan
Negan was a well-known villain long before his arrival on the show, and his introduction was largely anticipated. Though the graphic novels' original portrayal of the foul-mouthed, baseball bat-wielding psychopath is unforgettable, casting Jeffrey Dean Morgan was a brilliant decision on the show's part.
Previously the lovable Denny Duquette on ABC's Grey's Anatomy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan took on a much more sinister role on The Walking Dead. As it turned out, he was the perfect fit. Even with AMC's strict content restrictions preventing the characters from using explicit language, Jeffrey Dean Morgan manages to put on a compelling, charming, utterly frightening performance. Negan doesn't even need to be dropping his signature f-bombs to be a brutal antagonist.
5 The Comics: Rick Grimes
Andrew Lincoln's portrayal of series lead Rick Grimes will forever be something iconic. Lincoln breathed life into the character in a way no one else could, and his performances never failed to be compelling. However, it was the way the TV show writers portrayed Rick Grimes that became questionable.
While Rick often made a very weak, unreliable leader in the TV series, his comic counterpart lacked many of the questionable decision-making skills. Comic Rick has made his share of mistakes, but he's proven to be much more cut out for leadership than TV series Rick.
4 The TV Series: The Good Guys
Characters that have been adapted from the comics, such as Michonne, Hershel, Carl, and Tyreese, had storylines that were drastically different from the ones that belonged to their comic counterparts.
This is the case for several characters that have originated from the graphic novel series, but it is most evident in characters like Michonne (who had several bad relationships in the comics and wound up living on an isolated island for a year), Hershel (who remained stubbornly obsessed with his faith until his demise), Carl (who made countless bad decisions and carried on a very creepy relationship with Lydia) and Tyreese (whose unfaithfulness to Carol ended in her committing suicide). Had the TV show gone ahead with any of these storylines, it would be a much different show, and not for the better.
3 The Comics: The Bad Guys
With the exception of Negan, the Walking Dead comics have a knack for antagonists. Their portrayal of the Whisperers, the Governor, and many others were darn scary, and the TV show simply couldn't do them justice.
Along with not giving the villains adapted from the comics quite as much of a sinister streak, the TV series has also coined its share of incredibly bland, frequently quite laughable villains. The junkyard gang (aka the "Garbage Pail Kids" and/or "The Heapsters") were a creation of the TV show, and one that most fans would probably rather forget.
2 The TV Series: Carol
The Walking Dead TV series has adapted countless characters from the comics, and often, for the sake of originality, has changed or slightly tweaked their story. No character was given as drastic of a change as Carol was, however.
Carol appeared in the early issues of the comics, and her story was short-lived. She was impulsive and selfish, and made some of the most bizarre decisions out of everyone in her group. She ended her life by throwing herself at a walker and letting it tear her throat out. The only reason behind her suicide was her break-up with fellow survivor, Tyreese. When the TV series first introduced Carol, most viewers expected her to meet a similar demise. The show proved almost everyone wrong by having Carol's evolution be one of the most unforgettable aspects on the series. Now, Carol is one of the most beloved characters in the history of TWD, and possibly the strongest survivor.
1 The Comics: Character Journeys
The TV series may occasionally pull a compelling, memorable character journey out of its arsenal, but this is a rather rare occurrence. Seemingly, the days of the TV series version of TWD providing viewers with touching evolutions are gone. The show now mostly relies on special effects courtesy of Greg Nicotero and cheap shock value.
The comic series, however, is more rooted in its characters. It has a strong plot, but in most cases, its characters are stronger. Characters should always be more significant than plot in any work of fiction, and the fact that the TWD TV series has been using its characters as plot devices for years now plays a big role in its significant decrease in popularity.