The Season 7 premiere of "The Walking Dead" drew criticism for reaching a level of violence some found to be gratuitous, even for a show where people are regularly devoured by the undead. However, readers of "The Walking Dead" comic know that the book is never afraid to explore more taboo subject matter, and that the show has routinely toned down or reinvented aspects of the comic’s story.
Considering the fact that the show is back in just a few short weeks, and that we certainly have a lot more time with Negan and the Saviors ahead, it’s the perfect time to look back on 15 moments (in chronological order) from Robert Kirkman’s original comic that were too controversial for TV.
WARNING: The following list contains mature language, disturbing images and spoilers.
One of the most dramatic differences between "The Walking Dead" TV show and the comic is its treatment of Shane. Because Season 2 spent so much time on the Greene family farm, Shane also got a chance for some serious character development. The same can’t be said of his comic counterpart. He meets his end in a very similar fashion, but much earlier in the series, and with a 7-year-old Carl Grimes pulling the trigger.
Back in issue #6, before the group had even left their original camp in Atlanta, a confrontation between Rick and Shane over moving the group comes to a head when Shane punches Rick. When Lori retaliates and takes Rick’s side, Shane storms off into the woods with Rick following close behind to try and talk things out. Shane starts ranting about how Rick "should have stayed dead," so that he and Lori could have been together, before aiming a gun at his best friend. Just before he can pull the trigger, Carl, who secretly followed his father as back-up, shoots him in the neck and Shane chokes on his own blood.
Andrea and Dale’s TV show counterparts may have the same backstories, but that’s where the similarities in their relationship end. Instead of having an often begrudging pseudo father-daughter relationship, the two are actually lovers in the "The Walking Dead" comic.
Their relationship is originally revealed all the way back in issue #8, when Donna catches the two of them having sex. Despite the 43 year difference between them, Dale and Andrea actually have one of the more stable relationships over the course of the series. The pair even act as adoptive parents to Billy and Ben (who show up later on this list) after the death of their parents Allen and Donna. Though their relationship has some rough patches thanks to Dale’s insecurity and inability to accept that a beautiful young woman like Andrea could ever really love an old man like him, they ultimately work through their issues and remain together happily until Dale’s untimely death in issue #66.
If any one character suffered from "The Walking Dead’s" jump to television (after Andrea, of course), it was Tyreese. Despite Chad Coleman’s excellent portrayal of the character, he was never really given the chance to grow into the man he was on the page. One of the many elements of his character that was lost in translation was that instead of his sister Sasha, Tyreese is accompanied by his teenage daughter Julie and her boyfriend Chris.
The two lovebirds are mostly just background characters whose primary function is to babysit the younger kids, until issue #14, where the teens commit to shooting each other in a suicide pact. The only problem is Chris shoots Julie too early, and subsequently cowers naked in the corner as Tyreese cries, clutching his daughter’s corpse. She quickly turns and attacks Tyreese, and since Rick is unable to get a clear shot, Chris takes her down. Tyreese proceeds to choke him to death and then continues to beat his corpse until and after it reanimates.
Another pretty significant departure for the show is its depiction of The Greene Family. While in the show, Hershel has remarried and the Greene’s are shown to be a blended family of five, in the comics, he is a widower with seven children. Among the children who didn’t make the cut for the show were Hershel’s twin daughters Rachel and Susie. Although the twins are pretty much exclusively background characters, their deaths are easily one of the more shocking moments in the early days of the book.
Literally one issue after our last entry, at the conclusion of "The Walking Dead" #15, the pair’s decapitated remains are found in the prison’s barbershop by Hershel. At the start of issue #16, Maggie finds Hershel and the pair huddled together in tears as the girls turn. Prison inmate, Dexter, is originally believed to be the murderer, but we soon learn it was actually the unassuming Thomas when he attempts to murder Andrea.
Excluding her name and backstory, the comic book version of Carol would be totally unrecognizable to fans who have only watched the show. Far from the strong, intelligent and at-times scary woman she’s grown into on the show, in the comics Carol is a mentally unstable and totally dependent person. That dependence on other people hits its peak in issue #26, a few issues after her relationship with Tyreese ends (and she attempts suicide by slitting her wrists in front of her daughter Sophia), when she proposes a polygamous marriage to Lori.
Her weird sexual tension with the couple begins well before that though. In issue #16, after believing Tyreese is dead, she kisses Lori after expressing how much she feels she owes the Grimes family. She pulls a similar move in issue #24 when she kisses Rick for defending her honor after it’s revealed Tyreese has cheated on her. While both politely decline Carol’s advances, her proposal greatly damages her only stable relationships in the prison, and lands her on our list again later.
Our next batch of entries all focus on the group’s dealings with The Governor. On the show, despite being portrayed as a deeply disturbed man, he's given a slight chance at redemption and even empathy in the eyes of the viewer. However, in the comics, The Governor is an absolute monster, and we learn this right from the group’s first interaction with him in issues #27-28.
While on a mission to search a downed helicopter for supplies, Rick, Michonne and Glenn arrive at Woodbury in hopes of finding people with cars, fuel, and other supplies. Shortly after arriving, the three are apprehended and taken to The Governor for interrogation, but not before he threatens to feed them to walkers of course. When they refuse to admit they’ve come from a community, The Governor chops off Rick’s right hand to show "just how serious this situation is."
In what is easily the most unsettling moment we’ll discuss on this list, Michonne is bound in a holding cell and sexually assaulted by The Governor off-panel at least twice over the course of issues #28-32. After Rick’s hand is cut off, Michonne attacks the Governor and manages to bite one of his ears off before being pulled off by one of his men. Instead of killing her, The Governor has Michonne brought to one of Woodbury’s holding cells and has her arms and legs strung up to the walls before returning later to assault her.
He does so again in issue #29 as an interrogation tactic after locking Glenn in the next room and forcing him to listen (despite not actually asking him any questions). Michonne is kept as The Governor’s prisoner until issue #32 (more on that in minute), but excluding seeing her participate in a pit fight where she straight up decapitates a man, we’re not shown what happens to her during the rest of her imprisonment. We can assume, however, it’s nothing good.
After being freed by some of the people of Woodbury, Rick and Glenn free Michonne from her cell in issue #32, only to have her part ways with the group right as they’re about to escape; she says she wishes to "visit The Governor." The next time we see her is the end of the issue... when she breaks down his door.
Issue #33 picks up with the two of them fighting until Michonne knocks him unconscious with the butt of her katana. When he awakes, The Governor is bound and gagged, and Michonne informs him that this is actually the second time he passed out, due to her nailing his penis to a board. Her revenge only gets more graphic from there, and unlike her assault, we see almost every excruciating detail realized by artist Charlie Adlard. As The Governor’s men finally arrive at the door, she comments on how it looks like his penis could still recover, so she cuts it off before making her final exit.
We touched on this earlier, but after her proposal to Lori, Carol’s already fragile state of mind takes a major hit as her best friend and primary support system begins to pull away from her. The friction building between Carol and Lori all comes to a head in issue #30. While trying to console Lori about Rick being missing (while he’s being held at Woodbury), Carol puts her hand on Lori’s leg as a sign of compassion. Lori takes this is as another advance and completely unloads on Carol before taking Carl and storming off.
From that point forward, we see Carol’s mental state continually deteriorate, until, seeing it as her only escape, she plans to commit suicide in issue #42. Unaware of her plans, Carol gets Lori to agree to look after Sophia should anything ever happen to her, before seducing Hershel’s son Billy. She then enters the courtyard where Alice had been keeping a walker for study and begins talking to it. She laments that she has no place at the prison, and no friends left in the world, save for the walker. She inches closer and closer, eventually welcoming the walker to bite her neck and end her life.
In his last appearance on this list, The Governor somehow manages to make himself even more disgusting. In issue #43, we see The Governor remove all of his zombified "daughter" Penny’s teeth with pliers. He explains to her that this is "for the good of (their) relationship," and upon finishing the job kisses her on the mouth. Although he vomits from the taste, he apologizes and assures Penny that he'll eventually get used to it.
This happens shortly after his recovery from Michonne’s revenge, but before Woodbury’s final assault on the prison. There’s no indication of abuse prior to Penny’s death during her appearances in the series, or in any of the other comic appearances of the character, so we’re sort of left wondering what led The Governor to do this. That being said, even just a little extra research into his backstory will give you an idea of how mentally unstable he actually is.
Another death that’s significantly less heavy in the show than in the comics is that of Lori, in part, because baby Judith also doesn’t make it. After an unsuccessful attack on the prison forces a retreat for Woodbury’s forces, Dale, Andrea, Billy, Ben, Sophia, Glenn and Maggie all pile into the RV, electing to leave the prison behind in order to avoid further conflict from The Governor.
In what he probably considers his greatest failure, Rick refuses to abandon the prison before the Governor’s attack, believing that they will, again, be able to successfully fight them off. In issue #48, after The Governor drives a tank over the prison’s fences, a hoard of walkers, as well as Woodbury’s army, storm the gates as Rick and his people try to escape. During the assault Lori takes a shotgun blast to the back before falling and crushing Judith as Rick looks on in horror.
Despite Glenn’s best efforts to comfort her, Maggie slips into a serious depression after the fall of the prison and the loss of what little family she had left. Deciding she can no longer cope, she sneaks away during a dinner in issue #55 on the group’s way to D.C. and attempts suicide by hanging herself from a tree. When Glenn realizes she’s been gone a bit too long, he goes looking and finds her hanging. At the start of issue #56, he calls out to the group, and with Abraham’s help is able to cut her down from the tree.
When he realizes she isn’t breathing, he attempts to give her CPR, but is stopped by Abraham who wants to shoot her, believing she is dead. Things escalate quickly after blows are exchanged between Glenn and Abraham. Rick then pulls a gun on Abe telling him to put down his weapon or he’ll shoot. During the back and forth between the three, Maggie gasps for air and wakes up.
Fans of both the show and the comic know that the five-year-old twin boys, Ben and Billy from the books, are replaced on the show by aged-up sisters Lizzie and Mika, respectively. The main beats of their storylines are fairly similar, but much like the first item on this list, in the comics it is Carl who pulls the trigger, instead of Carol.
Early on, Ben exhibits signs of sociopathic behavior. He is shown in backgrounds picking on the other children, in issue #60 he’s shown to have killed and mutilated a cat, and in issue #61 he murders his brother Billy, believing he’ll come back to life because he doesn’t touch his brains. The group argues intensely about whether or not to kill Ben based on their inability to trust or help him. The group decides to sleep on it, but Carl takes matters into his own hands. That night, he sneaks into the van Billy is sleeping in and shoots him. The event haunts him for quite some time and he’s shown to sob about it often at night long after the fact.
Much like the show tried to do with The Governor, the cannibalistic people of Terminus are portrayed as, at least partially, sympathetic characters. It was only after altruistically inviting strangers into their community in hopes of creating a sanctuary, and in turn being victimized by those they invited in, that they felt they were forced to adopt their current way of life.
On the other hand, their comic book counterparts, The Hunters, are shown to be little more than weak, opportunistic people who ate their own children due to their inability to hunt. In issue #65, Rick approaches The Hunters alone (with back up watching from the tree line), and in true Bond Villain fashion, Chris, the group’s leader, explains The Hunters’ history and how after eating their own children, the idea of hunting and devouring strangers became much easier to stomach.
Though fans of the comic rejoiced at the news that actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, would finally be bringing Negan to "The Walking Dead" on TV, the question on everyone’s mind was how would the show's creative team possibly be able to bring Negan’s trademark vulgarity to life on TV?
Now that we’ve seen the character throughout the first half of season 7, we know that it seems AMC has decided to opt out of actually censoring Negan’s foul language, and instead have removed it entirely. Fans hoping to see a Negan truer to the comics can look forward to the Blu-Ray release for season 6, where his introduction is presented uncensored and includes an impressive 23 variations of the F word, including one of Negan’s most iconic lines straight from the comics, "I am gonna beat the holy f- f-ing f-ety f- out of one of you."
Which moments in "The Walking Dead" are you surprised made it to TV? Let us know in the comments!
"The Walking Dead" returns February 12, 2017.