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Seven seasons in, The Walking Dead remains one of the most successful comic book adaptations on television ever, attracting both fans of the books and newcomers to the universe. Comic fans are watching with feverish anticipation, awaiting the big moments from the comics they know are coming, but non-reader fans of the series may be surprised to know that the trip from page to screen hasn't been 100 percent faithful. In fact, there's been plenty of surprising swerves in the story. What follows are the biggest changes the producers of the AMC hit have made from their source material.
Naturally, there are spoilers ahead. Click at your own risk.
During the intense midseason premiere of season six, poor Carl became collateral damage when Jessie's kids ruined everything during the daring escape plan after Alexandria is overcome with walkers. After Sam lost his cool, turning him and his mom into walker food, Ron lost his damn mind and tried to kill Rick. Michonne stabbed him through the back, basically slicing him in half while keeping Rick alive, but Ron still fired off a round, sending the errant bullet right into Carl's eye. In the comic books, the big scene goes down a little differently. During a walker attack, Alexandria's leader Douglas begins wildly shooting into the herd, hitting Carl in the process.
Daryl Dixon is so popular on The Walking Dead, women are literally biting Norman Reedus when they see him in public, but the character (along with his ornery brother Merle) simply does not exist in the comics. In fact, there aren't even any characters analogous to the brothers in the books. Robert Kirkman created Merle to test Rick's moral compass in the early years of the show. Daryl's presence? Just a very fortuitous addition.
In the first half of season six, after much fan speculation, Maggie revealed that she's pregnant with Glenn's baby—to Aaron of all people. How did she confirm that she's pregnant? Well, we never got that scene. In the comics, though, she and Glenn are surprised to learn the good news together during a visit with Alexandria's Dr. Cloyd—Denise to those watching at home.
Remember at the end of season one when Rick and gang made it into the CDC, only to learn they're all infected and there's really no hope? Never happened in the books, they never saw the virus in the brain. In fact, this is one of Robert Kirkman's biggest series regrets.
Notice how Rick has two hands in that photo? If this were the comics, he wouldn't. When Rick and the gang first arrive at Woodbury in the books, he's shown some of the Governor's twisted idea of hospitality: His right hand is chopped off.
You think you know Carol? You have no idea. Far from the badass we've come to know and love, the Carol of the comics became spectacularly unhinged, going so far as to suggest a polyamorous relationship with Rick and Lori. After she's rejected, she becomes convinced a walker wants to be her friend, feeds herself to it, and dies in the prison. That's right: Carol's dead.
There was no Deanna Monroe in The Walking Dead comics series. Instead, there was Douglas, the leader of Alexandria.
The differences with Tyreese in the comic and the show are staggering. First off, he had relationships with both Carol (the differences between Carol in the comics and the TV character are out of this world) and Michonne. The Governor also beheaded him and his zombified head was put down by Michonne. Those differences aside, Tyreese also had a daughter in the comics. Sasha sort of filled that role in the show. He was fiercely protective of Julie and wary of her boyfriend Chris. Tragedy struck when Julie and Chris made a suicide pact (after having sex) and Chris killed Julie. Tyreese later killed Chris. Emotions, man.
Remember that badass moment when, after waking up to a bunch of cannibals snacking on his amputated leg, Bob announced that they were eating tainted meat, revealing he'd been bitten? Never happened in the books. Instead, ol' Dale (who'd died seasons before that moment in the show) had the honor (?) of feeding his infected flesh to a bunch of creeps.
Man, Shane was the worst, right? Bitter, angry, and willing to abandon people he deemed a liability, he became the biggest liability himself. Rick finally killed him at the end of season two, with Carl having to save his dad from the reanimated Shane right after. But in the comics, the world was rid of the jerk much earlier. Shane's insanity began almost immediately after Rick found the group, but instead of Rick taking him out, it was Carl. When Shane tried to murder Rick, Carl shot him in the neck and killed him. Rick only took out the walker version of his old friend.
Aside from Carol, Andrea's trajectory on the show probably diverted the most from the comics. For starters, she's still alive in the comics world and in relationship with Rick. In the comics, she's a sharpshooter and leader. On the show, well, they really botched her. She never got with the Governor in the comics. At all. Or Shane. She was with Dale though. Oh Andrea, how the show failed you.
In the comics, Tyreese arrives with his daughter, Julie, and her boyfriend Chris. Sasha kind of takes Julie's place in the show as Tyreese's sister. However, Julie did not last as long as Sasha has. Sasha has also taken Andrea's spot as a sharpshooter.
In the series, Lori's death was a brutal moment that Lauren Cohan has admitted almost caused her to quit the show. But the death-by-child birth is nothing compared to her fate in the comics. In the books, Lori lived on a bit longer—long enough to have some time with Judith, but the two were gunned down during the Governor's raid on the prison.
Apparently no one has ever seen a zombie movie in the world of the show because no one has ever uttered that word once. Instead, they refer to the infected as "walkers" or "biters." Not so in the books. The word "zombie" does get used.
Oh dear, Morgan. Being unhinged is a similarity between the comics and TV character, but there was never any Namaste Morgan in the comics. He faught in the comics and also slept with Michonne before meeting his bitter end.
In the Governor's big assault on the prison, poor Herschel has his head chopped off while the others, including his daughters Maggie and Beth, are forced to helplessly watch. In the books, Herschel does die during the raid, but not in this most hideous of ways. Instead, it's poor Tyreese whose head rolls when Rick won't turn the prison over to the Governor.
After going missing in season two, the search for Carol's poor daughter Sophia was a driving factor for the remainder of that season, leading to one of the earliest WTF moments when the poor girl bounded out of Herschel's barn hungry for flesh. It also marked one of the biggest departures from the books because, in the comics, Sophia is alive and well, making her one of the longest surviving female characters.
MORE: The Walking Dead then and now—See how much the zombie apocalypse has changed the cast
That nefarious Negan! Jeffrey Dean Morgan's character finally made his debut and took out two beloved characters. In addition to killing off Glenn (Steven Yeun) in the season seven premiere, Negan also murdered Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) with Lucille, his barbed wire covered baseball bat. In the comic series, Abraham is murdered by Dwight with an arrow through the eye.
In the final shocking moments of season eight's midseason finale, Rick and Michonne learned that Carl (Chandler Riggs) had been bit on the ribs by a walker, making the death of one of the few remaining original cast members imminent. In fact, by the end of the midseason premiere a few months later, after saying his goodbyes, he made sure no one he loved would have to put him out of his misery and pulled the trigger himself. In the comics, however, Carl is still alive and kicking, having spent some time living at the Hilltop as a blacksmith apprentice and entering into an adult relationship with one of the Whisperers (a villain group we've yet to meet on the show) before returning to Alexandria.