11 Biggest Differences Between “The Walking Dead” TV Show And The Comic Book

Long before The Walking Dead became one of the biggest shows on TV, it was a popular comic book. The comic launched in October 2003, and was ripe for a series adaption from the first issue. Some elements of the comic books are far different than the series, and vice versa. Here are some of the bigger differences that have impacted what you see on AMC. 

[Before you scroll any further, be warned: There will be spoilers.]

1. A lot of characters from the show don’t exist in the books.
Throughout its AMC run, The Walking Dead has brought several new characters to the storyline. Some people, like Beth Greene and Deanna Monroe, were created to serve as counterparts to important characters from the books. Others, like Sasha Williams and Noah, were new to the storyline. While some of these smaller characters end up eventually getting lost in the background, one addition to the series has made a huge impact: Daryl Dixon. Introduced in the first season, Dixon’s gone on to become one of, if not the most popular character in the series’ history … so far.

2. The differences in the romantic relationships of the couples.
While the most popular couples on the show (like Maggie and Glenn) made it from comic book to the series, there are many cases where the romantic relationships vary greatly. Fans of series can hope for Carol and Daryl to finally hook up, but in the comics she’s into Tyreese. Actually, lots of relationships in the comic that don’t make it to the series. Example: Rick and Michonne proved to be a a great pairing in Season 6, their illustrated counterparts  have mostly had eyes for others — namely Rick and Andrea, and Michonne and both Morgan and Ezekiel.

3. The Wolves
The Wolves, a hostile group of survivors, are introduced in Season 5, and become the primary antagonists in the first half of Season 6. They’re an exciting element to the series, except they never appear in the comics. That said, Alexandria is briefly threatened by an outside group who are simply referred to as either scavengers or “The Scavengers,” but that’s the closest you can get to a comic-show connection.

4. What happened to the rough and rugged Andrea?
In the books, Andrea’s one of the group’s OGs – she’s the ultimate survivor and precision sniper. On the show, Andrea’s wishy washy personality made her instantly disliked by the fans, while her warrior-like qualities were slowly and subtly grafted onto another character: Michonne.

5. Stone-cold Carol Peletier
On the show, Carol has turned into a realist who doesn’t think twice in putting bullets into people who’ve been infected with a virus. It’s a huge difference, both from her time during Season 1 — suffering emotional and physical abuse from her husband, and from the comic books in which she is a bit of a hottie, a total nut job and much livelier, even dating Tyreese and suggesting a threeway with Rick and Lori.

6. Tomas
Tomas is the show’s answer for the books’ Dexter, and his volatility is a source of concern for Rick. This climaxes with Rick stabbing Tomas to death after they’ve cleared a number of walkers from one of the cell blocks and Tomas has opened a door to let more in. This event has a lasting impact on Rick’s ability to trust others, outsiders especially, as you notice by his reluctance to allow Tyreese’s group into the prison.

7. Merle Dixon
Fans of the comic books may have been thrown off by their initial encounter with Merle Dixon (handcuffed and abandoned on the roof of an Atlanta department store) on the TV show, since he isn’t a character in the comics. Instead, Merle seems to have been developed by writer a TWD writer to provide a foil to Rick’s group and to challenge their moral compasses. That is, until his exit in a Dodge, which is both incredible and dark: “I ain’t gonna beg. I ain’t begging you.”

8. Dale Bails, we hardly knew ye (on the show).
Dale Bails certainly is unique – the Hawaiian shirts, the old fisherman bucket hats, that boxy, retro RV, and, of course, his moral philosophy. The big difference between comic book Dale and TV show Dale is that he dies much sooner and more suddenly on the series. On the show, a handful of walkers ambush and disembowel him as he takes an walk through fields. In the books, Dale’s demise is a more prolonged affair, involving two bites and an amputation.

9. A tale of two Tyreeses.
Tyreese is on the show and Tyreese in the books is an almost entirely separate people who happen to share the same name and physical characteristics. In the comics, Tyreese plays a bigger role earlier on, being one of the first members to join the Grimes Gang. On the show, he’s a lot more empathetic and emotional. He doesn’t have a daughter; nor does he become romantically involved with one of the major cast members.

10. Morgan Jones: A kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
In the books, Morgan is an even-keeled, thoughtful guide to Rick, but Morgan on the show becomes a paranoid loon with an inclination for setting booby traps. Morgan is so far gone on the show (because of the death of his wife and son contributing to his madness, understandably) that even the negotiating powers of Rick, Carl, and Michonne can’t talk him into joining them at the prison. The Morgan in the books and on the show are night and day opposites.

11. The underestimation of Glenn Rhee
Glenn’s bravery and smarts are come in to play when he helps Rick and his group secure the prison at the start of Season 3. In the comics, however, Glenn hangs back on Hershel’s farm to help with tasks like burning walker corpses. His skills with cars (highlighted in Season 1 when he swipes that sports car) appear much later in the books after he enters the prison and shows he knows what to do with a gas tank and siphoning hose.

All photos: AMC