The television adaptation may still be going strong on AMC, but the world already knows how The Walking Dead comic book ends after the long-running series wrapped in 2019. TWD creator Robert Kirkman always claimed his comic book series was destined to run at least 300 issues, and up until TWD #193 that seemed likely to be the case. Then, in the heartfelt letter that closes out the issue, Kirkman confirmed it would be the series’ last. The unexpected finale caught both fans and retailers by surprise.
Having debuted in October 2003, TWD's 16-year run is an impressive accomplishment for a series that was initially ordered as a six-issue mini. In that time, the plot of the comic has drifted quite a bit from the happenings that AMC viewers are familiar with - but Kirkman's conclusion to the comic almost certainly contains some hints about how The Walking Dead will end on television.
From the first season onward, AMC’s The Walking Dead makes notable changes to the plot of the comic series it is adapted from, which creates an unfamiliar cast of characters for fans who have only read the comics.
Several characters bite the dust a lot earlier in the comics than they do on the show. Notable casualties includes Carol - who expires long before she has the chance to develop into a strong and independent warrior - and Judith Grimes, who never escapes infancy. Others who meet a grimmer fate in the comics than in the adaptation include Rosita and King Ezekiel - both of whom feature prominently on the pikes of the Whisperers - along with Morgan.
Another significant difference between the two versions of the franchise is that Daryl Dixon does not exist in the comics, and never has. He’s a TV-only character.
An even starker contrast between the two versions of TWD is that several important characters stick around in the comics much longer than they do on the show.
Carl Grimes never experiences a tragic demise, and his father Rick does not disappear from the series. Carol’s daughter Sophia survives until the end of the series - and spends much of her life as the adopted daughter of Maggie Greene.
The comic book version of Andrea is completely divergent from her antagonistic TV adaptation, and lives significantly longer. It is Andrea, not Michonne, who ends up in a romantic relationship with Rick Grimes, and the two of them eventually marry. Carl Grimes even comes to think of Andrea as his mom - before she’s tragically taken away from her new family in TWD #167.
Though the plots of the comic and its television adaptation diverge at numerous points, both series reach their turbulent peaks in the "Whisperer War."
In the comic book version of the tale, Rick Grimes and his allies are successful in repelling the Whisperers and annihilating their ranks. Negan himself strikes a fatal blow against Alpha in a surprise attack. Following these events, the series settles down for a brief moment - before everything suddenly changes for the people of Alexandria.
The next chapter of TWD is engineered by Eugene Porter, who uses his scientific prowess to construct a long-range radio in an attempt to discover other post-apocalyptic communities. Eugene’s plan works better than he could have ever imagined when he contacts someone from the Commonwealth: a group of people unlike any Rick Grimes and his friends have ever encountered before.
After a cautious courtship, a retinue of Alexandrians are invited to the Commonwealth, which is several days’ journey away in Ohio. Upon arrival, they find a thriving network of communities that have rebuilt society from the ground up - a veritable empire compared to the likes of Alexandria and the Hilltop.