Trouble with Comics, Dead Differential: Character Differences in The Walking Dead

Dead Differential: Character Differences in The Walking Dead

Guest post by Kevin T. Fischer

There are quite a lot of differences between The Walking Dead television series and the ongoing comic series it’s based on. You could honestly fill an entire blog with everything from the difference in pace to the more superficial differences of color scheme. However, the one big difference that has been a point of contention between fans of the show and fans of the comic is the characters.

While many of the iconic comic characters have manifested in the show, the portrayals have not been quite so consistent. In some cases, the interpretations of the characters differ so greatly between the versions that they seem less like parallels of one another. These differences of character have also shaped and informed the progression of their respective plots, leading to wildly divergent experiences.

Below are just some of the major character differences between the AMC show and the comic:


In the show: Rick is the de facto leader of his group of survivors who gets thrust into some pretty difficult decisions. As the series continues, he makes some very serious mistakes that cost lives and is, initially, slow to learn just what it takes to survive in this new world. His progression is, admittedly, slower but more organic as he learns new life lessons and really struggles under the burden of leadership.

In the comic: Rick is still the quintessential leader, but he’s also quick to acknowledge and accept the circumstances surrounding Lori and Shane. He also endures tremendous psychological and physical trauma from pivotal moments like losing his right hand to the Governor, seeing his wife and daughter killed by a sniper and almost losing his son, Carl, on two separate occasions to gunshot wounds.


In the show: Shane played out his part of the Lori and Rick love triangle for twice as long as the comic. You also got to know him better, as a result. The final confrontation between Shane and Rick is also motivated largely by Lori, and it ends with Rick stabbing him and Carl shooting his zombie form.

In the comic: Shane is wrapped up by Issue #6 when he tries to murder Rick during a deer hunt. The real difference between this final confrontation and the previous is that Carl, without hesitation, fires on Shane – saving his father’s life.


In the show: Andrea was emotionally indecisive and a bit of an opportunist – out for herself more than anyone else. She also was a bit of a liability, prone to suicide and accidentally firing on one of her own people – mistaking them for a zombie. Recently, she is among the dead.

In the comic: Andrea is still alive and well. She has grown to be an uncanny marksman, capable of shooting a person’s finger off with surgical precision. In addition to her prowess as a warrior, Andrea is a stalwart hero who serves as Rick’s second-in-command and on-again-off-again lover.

The Governor

In the show: The Governor was a deeply disturbed individual who wantonly murdered anyone he felt was a threat to his town. In that way, they attempted to justify and redeem his character to the audience. A lot of his hostile tendencies veered into the realm of physical trauma.

In the comic: The Governor was irredeemably malicious with not a single shred of hope or compassion. He repeatedly assaulted and abused Michonne when he had her in custody and was unhealthily involved with his zombified daughter. His right eye and right arm were cut off by Michonne before he was shot by one of his own people.


In the show: Carl continues to descend into violence as he is forced to make life or death decisions no child his age should ever make. He has killed people both in defense and in cold blood and even had to shoot his own mother to ensure she didn’t come back as a zombie.

In the comic: Carl experiences a remarkable amount of pain and suffering in a short amount of time. Not long after witnessing the murder of his mother and little sister, he caught a stray bullet that obliterated an entire half of his face. These experiences coupled with how quickly he’ll resort to a gun have all twisted him into the violent murderer we know him as today. That being said, he still has enough perspective and self-awareness to keep from veering into irredeemable, Governor Territory.

Daryl and Merle

In the show: Daryl and Merle were just a couple of good old boys out for themselves in this post-apocalyptic world. When they were separated, however, Daryl began to evolve and become a likable anti-hero while Merle only got worse. In the end, Daryl is the one you root for as a hero with some rough edges, while Merle finally met his end.

In the comic: Daryl and Merle are regrettably absent from the comic.

Those are some of the more prominent differences in the characters which, ultimately, affect the overall experiences of both the comic and the show. In the end, The Walking Dead comic and show are both great stories – the differences just help keep things from getting repetitive.

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