Total Nerd

The Biggest Changes from The Walking Dead Comic to TV Show 

Mike Calendrillo
Updated November 5, 2019 11k votes 1.5k voters 1.2M views 24 items

List Rules Vote up which differences you think make the biggest impact on the story line. Were the changes to the TV show worth it?

AMC's hit seriesThe Walking Dead wasn't created out of thin air; it was originally a comic book, and as we all know well by now, most on-screen adaptations take a few liberties here and there with the original stories, for better or for worse. While people often claim the book version of a story is always better, we're going to leave it up to you to make that decision.

We'll take you through the major The Walking Dead TV/ comics differences, so you can decide for yourself which you think is more worth your time. Some plot lines change dramatically in the show, while some characters get killed off too early, and even a couple of the star characters don't even exist in the comic books. Find out why and how so many critical plot-points have been altered to fit the television adaptation.
Daryl Is TV-Exclusive
Daryl Is TV-Exclusive is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Biggest Changes from The Walking Dead Comic to TV Show
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In the TV show: Norman Reedus made a big impression on the show's producers when he auditioned for the role of Merle. In fact they liked Reedus so much that they wanted to make sure to include him in the project, even when the role of Merle ultimately went to Michael Rooker - so they created an entirely new character, just for him.

In the comic: Amazingly, Daryl and his brother Merle, two of he show's most memorable and iconic characters, are both completely absent from the comic books.
Did this make a big impact?
Merle's Not In the Comic
Merle's Not In the Comic... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Biggest Changes from The Walking Dead Comic to TV Show
Photo:  Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY)

In the TV show: Series creator Robert Kirkman thought it was important for the TV show to include a classic, old skool villain who could act as a foil for Rick and the rest of his posse. We're extremely happy Mr. Kirkman felt this way, because Merle (played by legendary character actor Michael Rooker) turned out to be a villain of superb caliber. The Governor eventually shoots him in Season 3 as punishment for his disloyalty, and in an emotional scene, his younger brother Daryl takes out his reanimated corpse.

In the comic: Merle was an invention of the show writers, and doesn't exist in the comics at all, which is kind of a shame considering how really badass that DIY, weaponized knife-hand thing of his was.
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Glenn Becomes a Farm-Hand
Glenn Becomes a Farm-Han... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Biggest Changes from The Walking Dead Comic to TV Show
Photo:  Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY)

In the show: Glenn sticks close by Rick and the rest of his original crew diligently, and is instrumental in helping other members of the group relocate to safety during the prison raid.

In the comic: After Hershel's barn burns down in Season 2, Hershel kicks the rest of Rick's group off his property, but allows Glenn to stay and help out on the farm because of his relationship with Maggie. He catches up with the rest of the group at the prison later on, just in time to make himself useful.
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Carol Is Young and Feisty
Carol Is Young and Feist... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Biggest Changes from The Walking Dead Comic to TV Show
Photo:  Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY)

In the TV show: Carol started off as a downtrodden, slightly high-strung domestic abuse survivor in her early forties who looks a little bit like Jamie Lee Curtis. In the face of some truly intense circumstances and real personal tragedy, however, Carol has stepped up to the plate and become one of the show's most confident, self-assured, and pragmatic characters, ready to kill without batting an eyelash if it means defending her group.

In the comic: In the comic, Carol is pretty much an entirely different person. When she's first introduced, she's in her mid-twenties. Though her marriage was definitely no picnic, her husband - a recent victim of suicide - was never abusive. Carol tries to have a relationship with Tyreese, but he cheats on her, and her subsequent downward spiral of depression and emotional instability causes her to commit suicide too, by letting a walker rip open her throat.
Did this make a big impact?