Unlike TV shows that are based on relatively limited movies or novels, The Walking Dead is able to draw upon a gigantic and ongoing piece of source material in Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s comic book series. This not only allows the creative team to give longtime readers faithful representations of some of the epic story’s biggest moments, but also lets them change things around to keep the shocks fast and frequent.
Speaking of changes, here are 11 characters from AMC’s The Walking Dead that were killed off in significantly different ways from how they met their maker in the comic books. In some cases, this worked out really well, while it was noticeably lacking in other cases. We’re chewing our fingernails down to the bone waiting to see how other characters end up eating it, but for now, we look back to the past.
How He Died in the Show: One of Hershel’s right hand men in the post-apocalypse, Otis did a lot in his short time on the show, including kickstarting the Sophia mystery and shooting Carl. His fate was sealed when he and Shane went out to get meds for Carl’s recovery, and Shane decided that the mission would fail due to Otis being too slow. Shane shot Otis, who was soon chomped up by walkers.
How He Died in the Comic: Otis temporarily hung around Hershel’s farm while the rest of the group went to the prison, and though he was later saved by Michonne from a group of walkers, he eventually succumbed to their blindly murderous ways when the prison was attacked by a herd.
Which was Better? The show definitely got it right here, giving Otis’ death a purpose by exposing Shane (again) as an evil douchebag for sacrificing him.
How He Died in the Show: Dale’s super-gross death was a huge shock in Season 2, and it was made all the more tragic over its preventability. Instead of killing a wandering walker, Carl allowed it to live, and it later attacked Dale while he was out patrolling. Attacked, in this case, comes with a disemboweling and a head shot from Daryl.
How He Died in the Comic: Dale’s death ended up becoming Bob’s in the show, as the former was first bitten by a walker and then later captured by the cannibal group the Hunters, who eat his leg and thus infect themselves. Which didn’t really matter since Rick & Co. killed them all anyway. Andrea ends up finally putting Dale out of his misery.
Which was Better? Any death that happened because of Carl is automatically a terrible one, so the TV version is automatically disqualified. The comic one is easily better anyway, as the shock was way more intense and bonkers.
How He Died in the Show: Near the end of Season 2, Shane had used up all of his time trying to destroy the Grimes family by caring too much, and in a scene that first appeared to be a duel between Shane and Rick, the latter drove a knife into his old partner’s heart. And Shane inexplicably turned into a walker in the drop of a hat almost immediately after, because drama.
How He Died in the Comic: Surviving for a much shorter span of time in the comics, Shane also got confrontational with Rick in that medium. But instead of being stabbed, Shane is shot through the neck by Carl in an effort to defend his father.
Which was Better? Definitely the comics. I get that it was important to have Rick kill Shane for the show, but Carl got his first real cool points in the source material for this act. Plus in this version, Shane doesn’t turn into a walker until he’s already buried, which is super creepy.
How She Died in the Show: In Season 3, Lori was very pregnant when the prison got overrun by walkers, and she eventually went into labor. She asked Maggie to give her a C-section to save the baby (Judith), and the blood loss was massive enough to kill her immediately. First getting a chance to tell her goodbye, whereas Rick did not, Carl later shot her corpse so that she couldn’t reanimate.
How She Died in the Comic: Lori had successfully given birth to Judith by the time The Governor led his attack on the prison, and as the mother and daughter were following Rick to escape the mayhem, The Governor ordered Lilly Caul to shoot. And she did, killing both female Grimes.
Which was Better? Gotta give it to the TV show here, and not just because it didn’t involve the death of a baby. Lori’s death seriously changed Carl in live-action, and Rick’s reaction to her death was a huge moment. That said, the comics handled Lori’s posthumous phone calls better than the show did.
How He Died in the Show: Hershel and Michonne were used as hostages when The Governor appears at the prison with the intention of taking it from Rick. Ignoring all attempts at rationalization, The Governor took two separate attempts at decapitating Hershel with Michonne’s sword, getting it “right” on the second attempt. And yes, Hershel’s detached head reanimated.
How He Died in the Comic: The Governor had already driven his tank through the prison’s fences before Hershel’s final moments, which came after he watched his son Billy get killed. Hershel died telling The Governor to kill him, which is made a done deal with a shot to the head.
Which was Better? Hershel’s murder was shocking and awful in the comics, but it’s hard to argue with a sudden half-decapitation on TV. That whole episode was brutal, and Hershel caught the worst of it by far.
How He Died in the Show: During the battle that ensued after Hershel was killed, The Governor and Rick got into a brawl, which Rick lost. But before the intended strangulation could occur, Michonne drove her katana through The Governor’s chest, aiming to leave him suffering. Lilly stepped up and ended his agony for good by shooting him in the head.
How He Died in the Comic: After Lilly realized that she had killed both Lori and baby Judith, she got pissed and, after a quick misstep, shot The Governor in the back of the head and threw his body to the walkers as a distraction so she could lead the survivors to safety.
Which was Better? Tough to say here, as The Governor’s death was tied to the death of another important character in both versions, but I like Michonne being the one to end his reign of terror in the TV show, so that wins here.
How He Died in the Show: There were several differences between Comic Bob Stookey and TV Bob Stookey, with his death being the largest point of contrast. On the show, he got Comic Dale’s death, in which he was bitten by a walker and then had his leg eaten by cannibals, in this case the Terminus bunch. He later died due to complications from both of these things, and Tyreese put a stop to his reanimation.
How He Died in the Comic: Bob was a drunk and a friend of The Governor in Woodbury on the page, and after fleeing the community when he became aware of Reverend Jeremiah plans to kill everyone that was left, he had a heart attack and collapsed, with Lilly making sure he didn’t come back.
Which was Better? I mean, clearly “Tainted meat!” is going to win out here, since that’s a far better way to go out than a heart attack.
How He Died in the Show: Tyreese was a more quiet and contemplative character on the TV show, which was reflected in his death. While inside of Noah’s childhood home, he got bitten by a walker and soon experienced hallucinations of other deceased Walking Dead characters. He later got his arm amputated and then died on a car ride.
How He Died in the Comic: The source of Hershel’s on-screen death, Tyreese’s death came after he was captured by The Governor and beaten senseless. When Rick doesn’t agree to trade Tyreese’s life for the prison, The Governor decapitated Tyreese and angrily left his head and body for Rick & Co. to freak out over.
Which was Better? While I liked seeing dead characters like Beth and Lizzie return for Tyreese’s vision, that whole side trek to check out Noah’s house was just stupid and unnecessary. Tyreese died like the brave warrior he was in the comics, so that’s definitely the winner here.
How He Died in the Show: In one of the most talked about scenes in all of TV in 2015, the bravery-challenged Nicholas got stuck in an inescapable situation with Glenn and decided that suicide was the right option. And his self-inflicted gunshot wound is what led to so many Glenn-centric discussions in the following weeks.
How He Died in the Comic: Nicholas lived quite a bit longer in the comics, and died during a battle between the more altruistic survivors and Negan’s Saviors. He was cut in the back with an infected knife, and later died from the wound.
Which was Better? Nicholas was a piece of shit on the show in a way that he wasn’t in the comic, and his TV death was clearly more monumental in general pop culture thanks to Glenn’s fake-out death. So you win again, TV.
How She/He Died in the Show: This one is a little more complicated, as Deanna Monroe was a gender-switch from her comic counterpart Douglas. But they were basically the same character, for all the story’s intents and purposes, so there. Deanna was bitten after the walkers breached Alexandria’s walls, and instead of killing herself as originally intended, she screamed out as a bunch of walkers rushed her. She also returned in walker form for the most recent episode.)
How She/He Died in the Comic: Douglas also leaned toward suicide as a way out, although he wasn’t bitten and only wanted an escape from the walker herd swarming Alexandria. He ran out of his house for one last walker-killing stand, inadvertently shooting Carl through the face as he was overtaken by a group of zombies.
Which was Better? Though I liked Deanna as a character more than Douglas, her death in the show felt largely meaningless beyond giving Rick a clearer route to being everyone’s leader. Plus, Douglas shot Carl in the face, so that automatically wins.
How He Died in the Show: Ron was another character whose personalities differed from the page to the screen, and teenage Ron was basically a brand new character for the show. He took on the shock-delivering duty of shooting Carl’s eye out that Douglas had in the comic, and his death was caused by Michonne shanking him with her sword.
How He Died in the Comic: Since Comic Ron was basically TV Sam, the character suffered almost exactly the same fate as TV Sam, in that he wet himself and got attacked as the group was trying to sneak through the walker herd.
Which was Better? Both the comic and the TV series spun insanely tense moments out of the character’s death, and while I’d like to give it to the comic for getting rid of this adolescent nuisance, TV Ron shot Carl in the face, and that’s just too good to not give that version the prize.
Expect to see more death-related changes between The Walking Dead comics and the TV show when the latter airs Sunday nights on AMC.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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