First things first, this post contains *SPOILERS* for both The Walking Dead comic books, and the Season 6 finale. You have been warned.
If ever there was a television show adaptation which deserves to be talked about completely separately from the comic book series from which it takes its name, likely it would be AMC's The Walking Dead. Almost all adapted media deviates from its source at some point, usually for practical matters of the adaptation process, but The Walking Dead has gone to great lengths to alter huge parts of the narrative from the comic books.
While die hard fans might be irked to see parts cut and changed, when The Walking Dead alters the original narrative it usually does so to great effect. Even comic book creator and show producer Robert Kirkman wishes he'd written fan favorite Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) into the comic books instead of just the TV show.
But there's another fan favorite character who appears very differently in the show. In fact she's so different that the two characters are distinctly unalike. If you've read the comics you'll probably know to whom we're referring: It is of course Melissa McBride's Carol Peletier.
We all know well by now how Carol has evolved from a timid and abused housewife and mother to one of the most formidable and outright terrifying of our Survivors, loved by fans and the center of many a The Walking Dead internet meme.
Carol's comic book counterpart is very different from how she appears in the show though, and not just because she has hair when she's first introduced. She's perhaps not the most balanced character of the books, suffering from increasing mental instability as the comic progresses, and her story is a pretty sad one.
Carol and Tyreese
In the TV show, Rick Grimes first meets Carol and her daughter Sophia at the camp outside Atlanta, but unlike the show her husband Ed is already dead atthis point and never appears in the comics.
The Survivors leave camp and head out on the road where they meet Tyreese Williams, who is introduced much earlier in the comic books. The flirtatious Carol quickly takes a liking to him and they soon start a relationship.
Another character who appears earlier in the comic books is Michonne, who shows up seeking refuge not long after the group have taken up residence in the prison.
Michonne also takes a liking to Tyreese, seducing him in the prison gym and performing oral sex on him, unaware that Carol is watching from behind the door. Later Carol tearfully breaks up with Tyreese as they lie in bed together. Following the breakup she falls apart, eventually slashing her wrists in front of her young daughter (who is currently still alive in the comic books) in a visceral attempted suicide.
Carol survives the attempt, but her mental state only declines further following this event.
Flirtation with Rick and Lori
Lacking the security of her relationship with Tyreese, Carol begins to seek out other options for companionship. Up until this point in the comics she's had a close relationship with Lori Grimes and, to a lesser extent, Rick. But her motivations towards Lori and Rick take a slightly different turn after she ends things with Tyreese.
Following Carol's attempted suicide, Rick gets into a brutal fistfight with Tyreese, who he blames for causing Carol to try to take her own life. Both men end up badly beaten and Rick hits his head when he falls from the prison balcony, eventually collapsing and blacking out. When he awakens Carol is at his bedside, and this happens:
Shocked, he pushes her away, and she assures him that she won't tell Lori. He dismisses the act as Carol being still in shock or the like, and the issue isn't raised again.
But later we realize that it's not just Rick that she's interested in. During a conversation with the heavily pregnant Lori, Carol tells her: "I kinda want to marry you." She then goes on to explain to the shocked Lori that she wants to marry both her and Rick and raise their children together.
Lori, who describes herself as possessing a "small Kentucky town mentality," rejects her. Later, when she attempts to comfort Lori during a period of distress, Carol puts her hand on her leg, causing Lori to fly off the handle at her as she takes this as another advance.
After being turned down by both Rick and Lori, Carol takes the rejection as a sign that her friends have turned again her, calling them "so goddamn judgmental" and fearing that they've lost all respect for her.
Feeling like everyone thinks she's crazy and no one wants to be her friend after her attempted suicide, she goes out into the yard where the Survivors have a walker tethered in order to study it. Carol has a long conversation with the zombie about her feelings of rejection, tells it: "I really hope you like me," and then deliberately steps within biting distance of the creature.
She dies in the arms of her former lover Tyreese and is then killed by Andrea when she reanimates as one of the walking dead. So ended the shorter lived, sad and strange run of the comic book version of Carol Peletier.
Thankfully Melissa McBride's character is still alive in the TV show, though The Walking Dead season 6 certainly saw her struggle with her inner demons once again, eventually leaving the group in turmoil over killing so many people. Hopefully she'll find some peace at the Kingdom when Season 7 rolls around, and at least we know she's safe from Negan's bat (for now at least).
Who's your favorite character from 'The Walking Dead'? Tell us in the comments below!