WARNING THIS POST CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS
The Walking Dead is unforgiving in both its tv show and comic book incarnations. Survivors are introduced and kept alive just long enough for us to love them before being unceremoniously killed off. Whether its at the hands (and teeth) of one of the titular walkers or by another survivor, the shock factor is endless. The show has stayed faithful to the book in this basic concept, but kept itself from being an exact adaptation and with good reason. Rather than have a whole swath of fans constantly able to spoil the show, watching is exciting for both newcomers and readers alike.
While the show can't be exactly the same, sometimes it pulls a scene directly from the comics. Oftentimes in these situations characters are swapped so that, even though it looks familiar, readers are just as shocked as watchers when one of our favorite characters happens to die. In other cases characters are kept alive much longer than their comic counterparts, or killed in a completely different manner. The show stays fresh for everyone watching, and not just those of us who have skipped out on reading. Everybody wins.
We're all waiting anxiously for our favorite ambling walkers to crawl back onto our screen. Luckily, we don't have to wait much longer, with the season six premiere coming just around the corner. But it's been awhile since most of us have watched, and with 5 years behind us it's hard to remember who is dead or alive. Let's take this time to keep track of who we've left behind.
1. Hershel Green
Hershel Green's brutal death in Season 4 is the first instance that comes to mind when considering changes made for the show. In a scene shot straight from the comics, the Governor used Michonne's katana to decapitate one of our beloved band of characters. But in the book, it wasn't Hershel who falls to the stolen blade, it's Tyrese. While Hershel was still killed by the Governor in the book, he took a bullet to the head, so this scene was able to catch everyone by surprise. The character in both instances was a hard working family man who provided wisdom and medical care for everyone in need. His murder was heartbreaking, regardless of how it occurred.
2. Tyrese Williams
As mentioned above, Tyrese suffered Hershel's tv fate in the comic book, but there are other differences as well. Because he was allowed to live in the TV show, he went through a series of transformations the comic character wasn't ever able to. Once they abandoned the prison, he became passive and refused to kill walkers or rival survivors, paralyzed at the thought of it. Instead of his head, his arm was removed by the group after he'd been bitten in Noah's childhood home. They tried to keep him alive, but he couldn't handle the violence any longer and succumbed to infection, dying as peacefully as one might in a world such as this. In the comics though, this passivity was never reached. On the contrary, there's a huge section where the group fears Tyrese dead in the prison after he's locked away in the gym with a huge pack of walkers, only to find him much later having single-handedly killed the entire pack without receiving a bite. In either case, he was an amicable man and a force to be reckoned with. He will be missed.
3. Bob Stookey
Bob Stookey was completely different in his tv show and comics incarnations, but just the kind of character we needed in seasons 4 and 5. In the comics, Stookey is a member of the Woodbury community and confidant of the Governor. He even saves the Governor's life after the town's other medics have abandoned him to die. In the show, he's a troubled man the survivors couldn't quite trust that turned out to be an asset when push came to shove. His loss of a leg to a rival group of cannibal survivors did come straight from the comics. But here he replaces the long dead tv version of Dale, who outweighed his welcome back in season two for trying to remain the group's moral compass. The worst part was that neither of them died immediately after this violent kidnapping, but continued to live for awhile afterwards. Not many experienced the consequences of surviving the zombie apocalypse as hard as these two.
4. Carol Peletier
The Carol of the comics and the Carol of the TV show are two very different beasts. Sure, they share the same backstory - one of the original Atlanta survivor group with an abusive husband and young daughter, but from there their paths entirely diverge. Her daughter Sophia lived in the comics, so the hardened woman we meet in the show never emerged. Instead, Carol spent time propositioning Laurie & Rick with polyamory and falling in love with Tyrese. It's Tyrese's eventual infidelity that lead her to committing suicide by walker. I think we can all agree with the changes made to the character in the show, because now she's an absolute badass that's willing to make hard decisions the others flinch at.
Andrea's another one of those characters who has an extremely different experience in the tv show and book. In the show, she died in season 3, whereas in the comics she's still alive and kicking. Show Andrea had shacked up with the Governor and turned on the group, but redeemed herself toward the end when she realized how truly insane he was. He locked her up bound and gagged in a room with an infected Milton. She's able free herself right before he turned but he still bit her neck. Rick and the others showed up too late and she urged them to leave while she killed herself. Comics Andrea is now in a relationship with Rick, and never betrayed the group in the first place. She's a good asset to have around, and often serves as his second in command.
6. The Governor
The TV show adaptation of the Governor was pretty spot on, save for his missing long locks from the comic books. His maniacal control over the gated community Woodbury culminating in an all out war with our survivors living in the prison. His death was directly caused by the war at the prison in both mediums, but the devil here is in the details. During the final siege, Lilly shot a weakened Governor in the head for causing her to kill the last character on our list. Lilly still finished him off by shooting him in the head on the show, but it's after Michonne has stabbed him and was because of the overall carnage, not for anything she'd specifically done herself. Regardless, the man was a villainous bastard that got what was coming to him.
7. Shane Walsh
Shane was another one of those characters that had a pretty spot on adaptation between the tv show and comic book. His intentions were initially good, as he chose to protect Rick's family and the rest of the group before Rick got out of a coma. But after Rick returns he's jealous of his one time friend and frustrated by the need to end his affair with Lori, so the two often ended up in heated altercations with one another. The major difference here was that the show and comic swapped Rick & Carl as his human/walker killers. Shane was killed by Rick in the show, before being killed again by Carl once he turned. Carl shot Shane in the comics, and Rick returned to his body at a later date after finding out it would turn regardless of being bitten. Because season two stretched out their time at the farm so much longer than in the comic book, Shane was able to be fleshed out a bit more on screen. In the end though, his death helps illustrate the full gravity of the infection, so he served his purpose.
8. Lori Grimes
Lori's death in either situation was an extremely tragic event for Rick and the over survivors, but there isn't anything that can top her horrific conclusion in the comics. In the show, a grizzled and emotional Carl is made to stab and kill a too-weak-to-go-on Lori after his sister Judith's birth during season 3. In the comics, however, she survived the childbirth up until the Governor's siege on the prison. During the carnage she was shot point blank by Lilly, at which point she's pounced on by an approaching group of walkers. The kicker here was that Judith doesn't live like she did in the TV version, but was instead crushed to death by her wounded mother. Imagine them having to try to shoot that scene? Probably a good thing they changed it.
BONUS ROUND: Rick's Hand
This last one wasn't that major and doesn't involve a death per se, but it provided some big challenges in the books that'll never appear on screen. While the Governor was still alive, he severed Rick's dominant hand crippling him forever. Rick was able to handle a gun with his off hand eventually, but not right away which kept him from some of the major battles with the Governor. It helped us to lose a bit of faith in our hero, even if it was only for a little while. Rick's missing hand proved to us that no one was safe and that nothing was certain in a way that even the TV writers weren't ready to portray. It would've been a nice addition to the show, but is an understandable cut at the end of the day.
With no announced end in sight, The Walking Dead is certain to have more tv/comic inconsistencies for us to call out in the future. While readers that are up to date still have the upper hand over watchers, Kirkman and the gang have proven they're willing to make enough changes to keep everybody guessing. And that's a good thing. When a creator allows something to get into a formulaic groove the result is ultimately boring, and the loss in quality shows. But The Walking Dead has arguably gotten better and better as the years have gone by.
Of course there are moments the comic book fans will always wish that they'd include on screen, but it's better this way. The two entities are allowed to be separate but equal pieces of media that we'll gladly keep reading month after month and watching week after week.