One of the chief rumored complaints of The Walking Dead under the Glen Mazzara was that it had diverged too much from Robert Kirkman’s source material, and Kirkman wanted the show to follow the comic more closely. That’s probably part of the reason why, when Scott Gimple was brought in to run the show, they circled back around and picked up The Governor’s arc in the comics in the first half of season four, and began the second half of the four with a plotline (Rick and Carl) straight out of the comics.
Still, there have been quite a few changes in the adaptation process over four seasons, some of the minor, and some of them not so. Below, I’ve outlined ten of those changes, and to avoid spoilers up to the current season, I’m only outlining changes to characters that are already dead in the TV series.
1. Sophia, who is killed after the group finds her in the barn, is actually still currently around in the comics.
2. Dale, who dies at the end of the second season, survives until well after the prison arc (much of his character traits are taken up by Hershel). In fact, Dale is romantically linked with Andrea, who has to mercy kill Dale after he’s infected by a zombie.
3. Hershel actually has more than just Maggie and Beth as children in the comics. He has three more sons and three more daughters, although Beth is not an actual character in the comics. While he does die at the hands of The Governor, as he does in the TV series, it’s under different circumstances. In the comic book, while everyone is fleeing the prison, Hershel stays behind after his last surviving son is killed. Cradling him in his arms, Hershel basically gives up, and when The Governor comes by and points a gun at his head, Hershel just says, “Dear God, just kill me.”
4. In the comics, Lori doesn’t die in childbirth. She makes it until the end of the prison arc, where she is shot in the back on orders of The Governor. After she’s shot, a running Lori falls onto her baby, Judith, and crushes her to death.
5. In the TV series, Ben — one of the guys who came into Woodbury with Tyreese — is killed by Merle while Merle is trying to take out The Governor. In the comics, Ben has a brother, who he kills because Ben is a psychopath. Ben is locked up in a van, and during the night, Carl sneaks in and executes him.
6. Andrea is still alive in the comics. In fact, she develops something of a romantic interest in Rick.
7. Remember Otis, who was killed by Shane in order to save himself? In the comic, Otis survives until zombies attack the prison. He’s infected, and Rick has to kill his reanimated corpse.
8. In the comics, Tyreese has a daughter, who also has a boyfriend. In the TV series, Tyreese has his friend Sasha, who doesn’t exist in the comics.
9. In the TV series, Shane’s arc is pretty much the same. However, in the TV series, Rick kills Shane, and it’s Carl who saves his Dad by killing Shane’s re-animated corpse. In the comic, Carl kills Shane before Shane can kill Rick, and it is Rick who kills Shane’s re-animated corpse.
10. In the TV series, Ceasar Martinez — who is The Governor’s right hand man in both the comics and the TV series — is killed by The Governor before The Governor attacks the prison. In the comics, Martinez is killed by Rick after Martinez is discovered running back to Woodbury to inform the Woodbury citizens of the prison’s location. (Martinez’s head was removed later by The Governor and used as propaganda to rally the citizens of Woodbury against the prison; it was also one of the heads in The Governor’s fish tanks).