For the most part, the plotlines in The Walking Dead have been based on the Robert Kirkman comics of the same name, including many of the same core characters plus some new ones. The plot points, however, have diverted from time to time.
Some of these plot changes have led to fan-favorite characters from the TV show surviving far longer than they did in the comics, while in others, characters who made it far in the comics perished much earlier on the show. Other plot points, meanwhile, that didn’t involve death or survival were left out for good reasons as well.
Michonne Mutilating The Governor
On the show, The Governor and Michonne have numerous fights, including one where she cuts out his eye (he also does heinous things to her, including rape). She does finally kill him following his decapitation of Hershel. However, in the comics, The Governor endured far more at the hands of Michonne. She not only took out his eye but also an arm. But most alarmingly, she nailed his genitals to the floor.
It’s no surprise this brutality was left out of the show. Given how fans boycotted the show with the gruesome deaths of Abraham and Glenn, a scene like that would have been far too graphic, especially so early on in the show. What’s more, it would have made Michonne look just as twisted as the Governor and lacking morality. There were so much fans loved about Michonne’s final episode of The Walking Dead and the character on the whole. Much of this was because of how true, honest, and good she was. That would have been changed with a storyline like this.
Fans can’t imagine The Walking Dead without one of the fan-favorite characters, Carol Peletier. Enjoying one of the most compelling character arcs in the series, she survived as an abused mother and wife only to emerge a strong, independent, and fearless leader who people both feared and deeply respected.
In the comics, Carol is killed off fairly early on in the story. She is killed by a nurse at Woodbury named Alice, who, after having turned, bites her neck. When Carol reanimates, it’s Andrea who shoots her. In the series, Andrea was a far less liked character, so it made far more sense for her to perish in Woodbury (albeit in a different way) so fans could continue to see the tremendous growth in Carol, not to mention her burgeoning friendship with Daryl.
One of the most heartbreaking scenes early on in the series was when Lori begged Maggie to perform a C-section on her to save Judith, knowing she would die in the process. In the comics, however, Lori is shot in the back during the Governor’s assault on the prison, which in turn, kills Judith, who she is holding in her arms, as well.
Aside from the fact that the death of a woman and unborn child would not have gone over well with fans, Judith has grown so much through the series. Early on, she was central to various storylines, including Carol’s harrowing decision to execute Lizzie and Negan’s taunting of Rick. Most importantly, however, the time-jump older version of Judith was one of the best characters of the show’s final seasons. Through her, Rick was able to live on with the group. The show would not have been the same without the baby, toddler, and especially pre-teen Judith who had some great quotes on The Walking Dead.
Carl Killing Shane Early On
Had Carl killed Shane on the show, it might have hardened the young man far too soon. Carl did shoot Shane’s reanimated corpse to save his father on the show. But if the scene had played out as it did in the comics, with Carl shooting a fully alive Shane, it would have been too heartbreaking, even for The Walking Dead, especially considering how close Carl was with Shane.
What’s more, this scene happened much sooner in the comics, which didn’t allow the character of Shane to grow as much as he had on the show. Even though Shane died early on in the show as well, he at least made it to Hershel’s farm. It’s there that one of his most emotional scenes occurred when he let the walkers out of the barn only to reveal Sophia as one of them. It remains one of the most iconic moments on the show and could not have happened the same way without Shane having been alive for it.
The Whole Story of Jeffrey Grimes
In the comics, Rick’s brother Jeffrey is present, though he is in Barcelona trying desperately to get back to America and find his brother. He befriends a woman named Claudia and the pair travel together for a time, both trying to find a way to the U.S. He dies before making it to Rick, however.
It’s a good thing this storyline was abandoned for the show. Not only would it have been logistically tough to work Europe into the storyline (though the spin-off series Daryl Dixon will be moving to Paris), but fans needed to focus on Rick making his way through this new group. Once he lost Lori and Shane, Carl was all he had left from “the old world.” Bringing another Grimes into the story would have diverted too much of his attention, not to mention get in the way of the brotherhood he was cultivating with Daryl.
Rick’s Hand Getting Chopped Off
There was that one scene on the show when Negan did the unthinkable by trying to force Rick to chop Carl’s arm off. It didn’t happen, though Carl did later lose an eye. In the comics, Rick lost his hand, way back during the Governor’s days, at the hands of the Governor himself.
While fans have dealt with lost limbs, including Bob, Aaron, Lydia, and Hershel, fans can’t imagine Rick dealing with this happening to him. In the comics, Rick forging ahead despite this harrowing experience further strengthened him. This very well could have happened on the show, too. But having to CGI a lost limb for a central character would have been expensive and complicated. It could have taken budget and time away from other exciting CGI effects and explosive scenes that added far more to the story than Rick losing a hand would have.
It sounds unfortunate to say that Sophia’s death – the saddest death from that season of The Walking Dead – was a good thing on the show, but it’s the catalyst that pushed Carol to become the best version of herself. Even if it was born out of tragedy, this was an important part of her character development. What’s more, the aforementioned barn reveals scene is one of the most memorable of the show.
Sophia in the comics, meanwhile, outlived Carol. She was like a daughter to Glenn and Maggie and a best friend and eventual wife to Carl. That sounds like a sweet story, but fans needed to see both Carol and Carl grow without Sophia and suffer from her loss to strengthen themselves to survive.
Rick Getting Together With Andrea
In the comics, one of the plot points is Rick getting together with Andrea, and the two get quite serious. Andrea becomes like a mother to Carl. Fans would not have been behind this relationship in the series for several reasons. First, it would have seemed too soon after Lori’s death for Rick to have begun a romantic relationship with someone else. Second, Andrea was one of the most disliked characters in The Walking Dead, and there was no romantic chemistry between them.
But most importantly, if Andrea had stuck around and she and Rick continued a partnership, there would not have been the chance for one of the most beloved relationships on the show, Rick and Michonne (known by fans as “Richonne”), to have happened. It’s this relationship that continues to fuel the story through the upcoming spin-off series starring the pair.
Jesus Falling In Love With Aaron
While fans would have appreciated yet another love story, putting Jesus and Aaron together would have seemed forced. Jesus had a much bigger role in the comics after taking over Hilltop, going head-to-head on different occasions with Negan and Beta. These storylines were given to Daryl instead, a character who didn’t appear in the comics and who has grown to become one of the most popular on the show.
Aaron, meanwhile, came across as a stronger character who was focused on the fight and being a father while grieving the loss of his husband Eric. Jesus and Aaron might have been one of the relationships from The Walking Dead comics that didn’t happen in the show. But it’s a good thing because had Aaron been in a romantic relationship, it would have been a side story that distracted them from his true growth.
Dwight Sticking Around
Dwight was largely the same in both the comics and on the show, a loyal albeit reluctant follower to Negan who slowly began to recognize that he was on the wrong team. In the comics, after the All Out War ended and Negan was imprisoned, Dwight stuck around and became a member of the community.
The obvious reason this would not have worked out for the show is that Dwight could not have become one of several transplants from The Walking Dead to join the spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead. The latter offers a unique story that isn’t based on the comics, but it intersects well. Having both Morgan and Dwight as part of the cast strengthened that series which, in turn, strengthened the franchise on the whole.
NEXT: 14 Things From The Walking Dead Comics Too Graphic For TV