AMC’s The Walking Dead introduced newcomers to the American zombie apocalypse and a group of survivors led by sheriff Rick Grimes. Now, it has grown into a global franchise with multiple spinoffs. Adapted from the pages of the hit comic book series by Robert Kirkman, the show has become a behemoth in itself, finally wrapping up with the eleventh season.
With so many characters, locations, and story arcs to pick from, the makers behind the series had a lot of toys to play with. While they remained faithful to some of these elements, they also made some significant changes that have both been praised and ridiculed over the years.
Changing Lori Grime’s Death
Fans of the comic knew that Rick’s wife would meet her end at the prison in season 3. The panel itself is gruesome and was one of the most horrifying deaths in the series’ issues, which may have been a problem for AMC to adapt.
So while the change may have been seen by some as bad, it gave audiences a very dramatic scene for Carl being forced to kill his Mom before she turns into a Walker, one of the characters to sacrifice themselves for the group. And while it also spawned a meme-worthy reaction afterward from Rick, this change also introduced Judith into the series as a long-running character.
If it wasn’t for the decision to change the way her mother died, Judith wouldn’t have stuck around for the series. While growing up among survivors like Daryl and Carol, she became the next big child character after her brother Carl.
After the time skip in season 9, Cailey Fleming played Judith, giving audiences a child with the blade skills of Michone and the sensibility of Rick. With her arcs with the characters around her and the situations they’ve faced and she has easily become a great addition to the already extensive cast, leading to one Reddit theory of how the show ends.
Carol Lives On
Carol has remained one of the fan’s favorite characters, so much so that she will star alongside Daryl in a new spin-off series sometime in the future. And there are still plenty of episodes to enjoy Melissa McBride’s apocalyptic survivor.
But her comic book counterpart just didn’t last long in the world of The Walking Dead. After appearing in 39 issues, she takes her own life with a chained-up zombie, unable to accept the changing relationship in her life.
Hershel Is Killed By The Governor
Originally, the Governor uses Michone’s katana to cut the head off the tortured Tyrese in the comics to gain the prison from Rick’s group. But the series changed the victim to the gentle farmer Hershel, one of the most unexpected things to happen in the show.
Perhaps initially an odd change, the entire third season saw Hershel trying to teach Rick a better, civilized way of life. And even before the villain cuts his head off, he smiles as he hears Rick’s speech as his teachings impacted him to try and become a better leader.
One of the show’s best and earliest antagonists was Rick’s best friend, Shane. Portrayed brilliantly by Jon Bernthal, Shane was given a dramatic arc that slowly saw him turn from hero to villain during the second season.
While he tried to use his cunningness to earn the trust of the group and attempt to kill Rick so he can take leadership away from him, the comic book Shane wasn’t quite as clever. Portrayed as immature and less inventive, he was certainly changed for the better and remains one of Jon Bernthal’s best characters.
Rick Never Lost His Hand
While Rick may no longer be in the show (for now), his presence has been felt ever since. The sheriff may have gone through a few changes from his comic book counterpart, but one that he didn’t go through was the loss of his hand.
After having it chopped by the Governor in the pages, he never lost it in the show. While this dramatic moment would have been more impactful on Rick, there were teases that it would happen. But Aaron was given an amputated treatment after losing his hand in an accident and sporting a mechanical artificial arm.
Played by Laurie Holden, Andrea’s arc changed when the Governor was introduced in the third season, and much more drastically than some viewers may have thought. While Andrea’s story repeated some familiar beats to her comic book counterpart, it diverted in a very different direction that led to her death in the season three finale.
In the comics, Andrea lives for much longer, all the way to Neegan and the Saviours. Furthermore, she becomes Rick’s wife, saves Eugene from a horde of zombies released by Beta, and becomes the surrogate mother to Carl. Why the writers didn’t want to see the character walk on this same path is hard to say.
Among the backlash towards the show, Tyrese’s personality change was one of them. In the comic book series, Tyrese was a tough character who would fight for what he believed in, becoming Rick’s right-hand man in the process.
But the show changed him into a gentle giant and while some weren’t aware of his original version, some didn’t like the fact he seemed to be a very different character as a whole. But at least he lived beyond life at the prison and was still one of the show’s best characters according to Ranker.
In the initial setup for season 2, Carol’s daughter goes missing and the gang tries to find her. They come across Hershel’s farm and after opening the barn doors, it was revealed that she was turned into a zombie.
Despite the writers’ attempts to change the character’s fate to build tension, not many fans were happy about this one. Especially since she lives to adulthood in the comics. There, she not also survives the turmoil that viewers of the show have seen, but also has a child with a grown-up Carl.
Despite Chandler Riggs growing up before fans’ eyes as Carl Grimes and appearing in some great episodes over the years, showrunner Scott M. Gimple killed off the character in season 8. While the character did impact the war between Negan and his father, the show did lose an important figure from the original series.
A year after the character was killed off, Robert Kirkman showed readers his version of the character’s fate. Carl grew up with a family of his own in a now civilized and safer world. It’s just a shame that audiences weren’t treated to Carl’s embrace into fatherhood.