By Craig Elvy
The Walking Dead is notorious for killing off some of its biggest characters, but how do these major TV moments compared to the comic books?
Here's howThe Walking Dead's main character deaths changed from the comic books to the TV screen. In a series with a title as grisly as "The Walking Dead" it's only natural to expect plenty of bloodshed, and neither version of Robert Kirkman's zombie apocalypse tale disappoints in that regard. Both the original comic and the AMC TV series have a shockingly high turnover of characters, with even seemingly untouchable main players falling victim to the show's infamously itchy trigger finger.
The live-action adaptation ofThe Walking Dead broadly follows the same story as the source material, covering the same arcs and generally introducing fresh characters at corresponding points in the narrative. But the series has taken some significant detours along the way, and vastly altered some of its most prominent figures. Where some survivors worked better on the page, others have flourished more in live-action, and this ever-changing dynamic means character deaths don't always play out as comic readers might expect. Some major killings carry over directly from one version to the other, while others bear no resemblance whatsoever.
The Walking Dead is currently on hiatus, with the final episode of season 10 set to air later this year. The zombie series will then release six additional episodes to tide fans over in 2021 before a delayed season 11 eventually hits screens. While fans wait to see who might perish in the final battle against the Whisperers, which dead survivors followed the route of their comic counterparts, and which ones endured a different end entirely?
AMC had a problem when it came toendingThe Walking Dead's prison arc in season 3. An attack from The Governor forces Rick's group to leave the home they built among the cells and hallways of West Georgia Correctional Facility, but in the comics, the fleeing Grimes family are halved when a stray bullet hits Lori, killing her instantly. Tragically, Lori was carrying Judith Grimes at the time, and the newborn also lost her life in the attack, leaving only Rick and Carl behind. Following this sceneverbatim was understandably a little rich for AMC's blood. Instead, Lori loses her life while giving birth to Judith, who still remains aliveas of season 10. While the details are quite different, thematically speaking, both versions of Lori sacrifice themselves for Judith's sake.
Glenn's controversial death is one of the most comic-accurate in AMC'sThe Walking Dead. After Rick's survivors establish themselves in Alexandria and make contact with the Hilltop community, it's not long before the shadow of the Saviors rears its ugly head, with the name "Negan" being ominously touted by those in the know. When Negan makes his first proper appearance, he certainly leaves a lasting impression, lining up Rick and his friends and brutally executing one of them in revenge for the Saviors he lost. Glenn is the unlucky recipient of this Lucille-sponsored beating, and Negan duly crushes the young man's skull, causing Glenn's eye to bulge out while his mangled head desperately tries to reassure Maggie. The only difference in theWalking Dead TV series is that another character takes the brunt of Negan's ire first. Glenn is instead killed because Daryl retaliates, but the scene otherwise plays out the same.
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Completely the opposite of Glenn, Dale's comicandTV deaths are mixed-up, changed around and swapped with other characters. On TV, Dale's demise was somewhat of an anticlimax. In season 2, Carl recklessly provokes a zombie that later takes Dale by surprise and attacks, ripping the unsuspecting protagonist's guts open. Obviously in unimaginable pain, Daryl Dixon steps up and puts Dale out of his misery. In Kirkman's original story, Dale also falls victim to a zombie, but is bitten rather than ripped apart. More significantly, Dale is captured by a group of cannibals roaming the woods, and they eat his leg, only to later find out about the bite. Rick's group move in, slaughter the villains, and bid farewell to Dale before he turns overnight. If that scenario sounds familiar, it's because the death was repurposed for Bob (a TV-only figure) in season 5.
Andrea's death isn't only another example of a huge story deviation, but also represents an incredibly contentious part ofThe Walking Dead's history. Essentially, a name is virtually all comic-Andrea and TV-Andrea share, as the latter was deliberately made to frustrate and annoy viewers, while the original was an outright badass. The iteration of Andrea played by Laurie Holden made the fatal mistake of befriending the Governor, and this relationship came back to bite her whenBig Bad Philtied Andrea up and left her to the mercy of a nearby zombie. Andrea is inevitably bitten, but manages to commit suicide before she turns undead. According to Holden herself,The Walking Dead's original plan for Andrea was closer to the comic books, in which the character begins a romance with Rick Grimes (instead of Michonne) before dyingin the course of leading the Whisperers' massive zombie horde away from Alexandria.
Similar to Dale, the death of Hershel Greene was rearranged and repurposed from other characters inThe Walking Dead, and while both versions ofHershel die at the same point in the story, the method of execution is changed entirely. A little more sprightly than on TV, comic Hershel is putting up a fight against the Governor in the final battle for the prison, but after his son Billy is shot and killed in the hostilities, Hershel essentially gives up and allows himself to be shot by the villain, even though Maggie still lives. Once again, it's the Governor who ends Hershel's life on TV, but in far more dramatic circumstances. Hershel is captured by the Governor and brought out on display to Rick's group in the prison. In a brutal show of force that disgusts even some of his own soldiers, Phil cuts off Hershel's head with Michonne's sword.
Hershel's TV death might've been more effective than his final comic scene, but the beheading wasn't original to the TV series. Tyreese Williams was a far bigger deal inThe Walking Dead's comic series, largely because the TV show added Daryl Dixon as Rick Grimes' de-facto right-hand man. Consequently, it was Tyreese who was afforded the hero's death at the hands of the Governor. As with Hershel on TV, Tyreese is captured by the folks at Woodbury and paraded in front of Rick. The Governor offers Tyreese's life in exchange for the prison, but Tyreese implores Rick to refuse, which he does. The Governor responds by liberating Tyreese of his head. On TV, Tyreese just gets bitten out of nowhere. He hallucinates for a while, has his arm chopped off, and then dies anyway in one ofThe Walking Dead'slimpestendings.
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As mentioned previously, another character took Glenn's position when Negan arrived for his pound of flesh in The Walking Dead's season 6 finale, and this unlucky contestant was Abraham Ford. Michael Cudlitz's character was a popular addition to the zombie apocalypse with his gruff demeanor and straight-talking attitude, but felt the wrong end of Negan's baseball bat after the villain arrived toboot Rick's peopleinto line. The double death sparked complaints from viewers, firstly for the frustrating cliffhanger and then for the excessive violence, but Abraham bows out very differently in the comics. With hostilities between the Sanctuary and Alexandria bubbling away, Abraham and Eugene scout places to potentially craft ammunition, but on their way back, Dwight (on Negan's orders) snipes Abraham through the eye with an arrow. The circumstances are different, but in both versions ofThe Walking Dead, Abraham is killed in revenge for attacks on the Saviors.
The death of Gregory inThe Walking Dead is a shining example of closely following the source material. Usurped as leader o Hilltop by the increasingly popular Maggie, Gregory's envy builds until he hatches a conspiracy to have his political rival "dealt with." In the comics Gregory tries to poison Maggie with stolen medicine, but is foiled by Jesus. On TV, he convinces Earl to carry out the hit before attempting it himself and failing. In both cases, Maggie responds by ordering the construction of gallows and having Gregory hanged, much to the chagrin of Rick, who was seeking a more peaceful future.
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