The Walking Dead: 10 Times The Show Was Better (And 10 Times The Comic Devoured It)

You can run, but the shuffling gait of the walkers is inescapable! Since Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead first appeared on the shelves of comic book shops in 2003, the black and white pages have captivated the imaginations of comic fans and devotees of the undead alike. Foregoing current trends in fast-moving zombies and instead preferring to draw inspiration from cult classic movies like George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead, the popularity of the comic was unmitigated. Word of mouth about the comic traveled like it was infectious, and soon the book's reputation had spread far and wide.

The comic book series was so successful that in 2010, AMC premiered a television adaption of the series starring Andrew Lincoln as former sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes who attempts to guide his family through survival in a world overrun by walkers. While the show is unquestionably informed by the comic on a bone-deep level, there are certain aspects of the story that the show captured better than its source material. Likewise, not every mutation is a step forward, and there are some instances where the comic tells a more compelling story than its television counterpart. While adaption is never a precise process, there are some instances where the show managed to execute a particular moment or character more effectively than its source material. If you think you have what it takes to weather a world overtaken by walkers, join CBR on a journey to uncover 10 times TWD was better than the comic (and 10 moments where the comic devoured the show).

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Carol on The Walking Dead
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Carol on The Walking Dead

One of the characters to undergo major alterations on the way from panel to screen was Carol. In the pages of the comic, Carol is introduced in a similar manner as the show -- she appears as Sophia's mother, and her abusive husband is soon dispatched. However, after proposing an unconventional relationship to Rick and Lori, her comic incarnation is soon devoured by walkers.

By contrast, her character on the show has come into her own. After an action-packed rescue of the crew from the cannibals at Terminus in "No Sanctuary," the first episode of season five, Carol continued to hone her survival skills to become one of the most dangerous and invaluable members of the group.


One of the most memorable moments of the comic comes when Rick, Glenn, and the other survivors encounter Negan and Lucille for the first time. The outcome is striking and memorable, doubly so because of how unexpected and unflinching the moment proves to be.

The show completely fails to deliver. The show attempted to subvert the expectations of savvy viewers by making it appear that Glenn had died, but then revealing he had survived, only to have him meet his fate at the hands of Negan and Lucille. Unfortunately, this bait-and-switch only served to undermine what should have been one of the most memorable moments of the series.


Jon Bernthal Shane Walsh The Walking Dead

Both the show and the comic begin when Rick awakens from a coma to find that the world has been overtaken by walkers. Within a few issues (or episodes), Rick has reunited with his wife and son, but the reunion is complicated by the fact that Rick's wife Lori has become romantically entangled with Rick's best friend, Shane.

In the comic, resolution comes before the first story arc has been completed. By contrast, the show allows Shane to stay around for a while, exploring the effect Rick's return has on the dynamics of the survivors and the nature of the friendship between the two men.


In both the comic book series and the show, the time Rick and his company of survivors spent at the prison are in many ways defined by their conflict with the Governor. While our heroes want nothing more than to live peacefully within the walls of the prison, the Governor finds their presence intolerable, and after a series of escalating confrontations, he leads an attack.

In the comic, this offensive leads to the defeat of the Governor. In the show, the Governor manages to survive this failed offensive, only to resurface half a season later -- just to be defeated within two episodes. The more decisive defeat the Governor experiences in the comic offers a far more satisfying end to the antagonist's arc.


Daryl Dixon TWD Season 9

Many of the characters on the show have a counterpart in the comic, even if certain details might have been changed in the translation from page to screen. This is not the case for Daryl, the breakout character from the AMC adaption. Introduced in the first season, Daryl's early character arc was defined by his brother, Merle.

With his gruff demeanor and skill with a crossbow, Daryl quickly won television audiences over. While the ninth season may be the last for Rick, rumors abound that AMC is considering a continuation or spinoff of the TWD with Daryl at the center.


In both the show and the comic, Andrea is first introduced alongside her sister, Amy. Unfortunately, Amy is bitten by a walker and soon becomes infected. In the show, Andrea seems to ally herself with the Governor (the ruthless, charismatic leader of Woodbury), eventually betraying him and sacrificing herself for the good of her friends.

Her fate in the comics is far more interesting. Eventually, she hones her skills as a sharpshooter to become one of the most valuable assets for Rick's group of survivors. Her skills with a weapon also lead her to survive for much longer, and she remains with the group through their arrival at Alexandria.


Shortly after awakening from his coma and finding that the world has been overrun by walkers, Rick encounters Morgan and his son Duane. Morgan helps Rick establish himself in the brave new world, passing on the knowledge he has gathered about survival among the zombies.

In both instances, Morgan and his son are left behind by Rick as he sought out the rest of his family. While Rick's reunion with Morgan in the comic is somewhat unremarkable, the episode "Clear," in which the reunion occurs on the show, is one of the best episodes of the series. In depicting just how demoralizing the loss of his son has been for Morgan, “Clear” unfolds a horrifying story that lingers long after the episode has ended.


One of the most important themes for TWD are the figurative and literal scars that are left on the protagonists as they strive to survive in the unforgiving world of the walkers. While the show consistently demonstrates the figurative losses Rick faces, it rarely shows his physical scars.

In the comic, however, Rick loses his hand. The physical ailment provides a constant and striking reminder of the losses he has faced as he strived to survive. While Rick's long gray beard may represent his long and strenuous journey on the show, the loss of his limb in the comic is a far more effective symbol of the cost Rick has paid for survival.



The loss of Rick's daughter occurs simultaneously with the loss of his wife in the comics. Devastated, Rick redoubles his devotion to his son, committing himself to the protection of Carl.

The show does not have Rick's daughter, Judith, succumb to the same fate as her mother. While Lori's passing still occurs and gives Rick plenty of motivation for ensuring the survival of the rest of his family, the show allows his daughter to live. This gives Rick even more of a stake in making sure his group is able to weather the ongoing onslaught of walkers, and as such, was an excellent decision on the part of the show!


After the first season, Rick and the rest of the survivors manage to reach Hershel's farm. Anxious to locate Carol's daughter, Sophia, they choose to remain on the farm. But when they uncover the truth at the midseason finale -- that Sophia has been a walker since shortly after she vanished -- they still choose to remain at the farm for the remainder of the second season.

While more time passes during this section of the narrative in the comics, in the show, more of the narrative is concerned with the time the group spends at the farm. Unfortunately, this sabotages the forward momentum of the story in its sophomore season. By contrast, the more consistent pacing of the comic proves to be preferable.


One of the most horrifying and memorable moments of both the show and the comic is the revelation that one of the children included in the group of survivors has psychopathic tendencies. Ultimately, these tendencies lead the child in question to dispatch their sibling.

In the comic, Ben is the child in question, and Carl ultimately deals with the issue by sneaking in and dispatching him at night. In the show, Carol and Tyreese are the characters that are forced to deal with Lizzie's psychopathic tendencies in "The Grove." Thanks to the scene in which Carol instructs Lizzie to “look at the flowers” before dispatching her, this memorable episode manages to outdo the event as it occurs on the page.


In the show, Beth is abducted, leading several of the heroes to return to Atlanta in what ultimately proves to be a failed rescue mission. While the story arc is clearly intended to demonstrate the hopeless situation the protagonists face, it ultimately felt more like a narrative cul-de-sac, and the failure to rescue Beth made the arc seem somewhat redundant since she was unable to return to the cast.

The comic, by contrast, does not include this return to the city of Atlanta. Instead, the pacing remains much more consistent, with characters making progress toward goals rather than simply turning in circles.


As with many of the characters that appear in both the comic and the show, Dale had a similar origin in both instances but soon developed in different directions. In both cases, he is introduced as a man who is bordering on elderly who had been planning to tour the country in his RV with his wife before the walkers changed his plans.

In the comic, Dale and Andrea soon become romantically entangled despite the difference in their respective ages. Instead of focusing on a relationship, the show allows Dale to serve as the moral compass for the group -- at least until he is torn in half and consumed by walkers near the end of the second season. Before that, he provides a voice to Rick’s moral misgivings regarding the loss of civilization, offering a method of unpacking some of the more interesting themes of the series.


While Tyreese meets Rick and the group before they discover the prison in the comic, in the show, he doesn’t meet up with the crew until they’ve established themselves there. While he becomes one of Rick’s closest allies and friends in the comic, they never grow too close on the show.

In the comic, Tyreese is one of the first people Rick connects with after being betrayed by Shane. The fact that Rick cares about people is essential to his character, and by removing this friendship, the show misses out on depicting one of Rick’s most humanizing relationships.


The Walking Dead - Lori

In the comic, Lori meets her fate when the Governor attacks the prison. While the loss Rick faces is dramatic, it is not as personal as it is in the show.

Lori's fate is made much more personal in the show by including Carl. While Lori is felled in the courtyard during the attack in the comic, she is bitten by a walker in the close quarters of the prison in the show. In an incredibly personal final scene, Carl must face hard decisions as his mother breathes her last -- and the drama is compounded when Rick learns what happened to his wife.


In the show, Carl and Sophia appear to be close friends during the first season. However, Sophia vanishes early in the second season, providing the group with the motivation to move on from their camp to search for Carol's missing daughter. When they locate her, however, they are too late: she has been turned into a walker. While this emphasizes lost hope,  a central theme of the show, it takes away the possibility of further story arcs involving Sophia.

Sophia’s survival for an extended period of time in the book gives the relationship between her and Carl plenty of time to develop. This provides a detailed glimpse into what it’s like for these characters to come of age in a world that has been overrun by walkers – an interesting perspective that is somewhat lacking on the show.


The Walking Dead Merle and Daryl Dixon

Like his brother, Daryl, Merle was a character that was created exclusively for TWD show. Like his brother, Merle possesses a rough demeanor, and he isn't above making rude statements or voicing his uncharitable opinions.

One of the reasons Merle's character earned a place on this list, however, was the dynamic between him and his brother, Daryl. The two brothers provided extremely compelling drama, and the push and pull between Daryl's commitment to Merle and his devotion to his new friends provided some of the best episodes of the series.


Maggie Rhee The Walking Dead

In many ways, Maggie's character arc is similar on the show and in the comic, at least until Glenn meets his fate. In the panels of TWD comic, this tragedy leads Maggie to come into her own, eventually becoming the respected leader of the Hilltop settlement.

Maggie's character arc on the TV series has some similarities, and along with Daryl and Jesus, she serves as the leader of the Hilltop. However, while she is a leader in both instances, it is implied that she may have sinister intentions for Rick in the series, calling her intentions into question in a way that never occurs in the book.


Fear The Walking Dead season 4

While the show owes everything to TWD comic, there is one aspect that the show managed without precedent from the comic: a spin-off! With Fear the Walking Dead, the series affords viewers a glimpse into the lives of another group of survivors who have banded together against the walkers.

The popular spin-off series has offered a plethora of new characters, most of which are original creations. While the adventures of Rick and company may be iconic, there are more stories to be told in a world overrun by walkers, and a spinoff provides that opportunity.


Negan is considered to be one of the most unforgettable villains in any comic ever, and with good reason. Thanks to the lack of limitation placed on stories presented through panels, Negan is free to engage in brutal and graphic violence, revealing the full splendor of his sadistic tendencies.

While he is still an intimidating figure on screen, the restrictions placed on his depiction by the medium of television prevent Negan from really stretching his arms in the same way he is able to in the comic. While he is still a formidable adversary on the show, he never quite achieves the legendary status he commands in the panels of TWD.

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