“The Walking Dead” generally follows the path of the graphic novel series on which it’s based, but the AMC hit has often changed things up. Here are 26 times the show took a meaningful diversion from the story that “Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman laid out on paper, through the next-to-last episode of season 8.
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta didn’t even figure in the comics, but the season 1 finale of the show featured a pit stop there. The last remaining staffer, Dr. Edwin Jenner, explained to our “heroes” that everyone living is infected with the virus to some degree, so that no matter how they die they’ll resurrect as a walker.
Daryl (Norman Reedus) and his brother Merle (Michael Rooker) aren’t even in the comics. Merle died in seasom 3, but Daryl has remained a main character and fan favorite since the start of the show.
On the show, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) died giving birth to her daughter, Judith, during season 3, but in the comics Lori survived Judith’s birth — though she and Judith end up being killed when the Governor raids the prison.
RV owner Dale Horvath (Jeffrey DeMunn) dies during season 2 on the show but survived much longer in the comics, eventually being bitten by walker and then partially eaten by cannibals (infecting them with his “tainted meat”).
On the show, Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) lasts longer than he does in the comics — he ends up being the “tainted meat” the cannibals ate instead of the long-deceased Dale.
The comic version of Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) was killed by sheriff’s son Carl (Chandler Riggs) very early on, before the group even makes it out of Atlanta. But on the show, Shane made it to the end of season 2, and Carl’s dad Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is the one who takes him out.
The Governor (David Morrissey) chopped off one of Rick’s hands in the comic, but our hero remains stubbornly two-handed on the show.
Lizzie and Mika were actually gender-swapped versions of their comic book characters, Ben (in place of Lizzie) and Billy (Mika). In the comics after Ben kills Billy, Carl is the one who kills Ben. On the show it’s Carol who puts down the psychopathic Lizzie.
In the comic, Tyreese (Chad Coleman) had a daughter who entered into a suicide pact with her boyfriend, Chris. The pact didn’t go as planned, though — the two were planning to shoot each other at the same time but Chris fired early and came away unharmed. Until Tyreese dismembered him, anyway. On the show his only family is Sasha, who was created for the show.
The TV version of Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) is middle-aged and timid, the victim of prolonged domestic abuse — before coming out of her shell and developing into a powerful character. But in the graphic novels, Carol is much younger and her husband never abused her. And she tries to have a threesome with Rick and Lori.
On the show, Shane injures ranch hand Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince) and leaves him to be eaten by walkers. In the comic, though, Otis isn’t killed until walkers invade the prison later on in the story.
Tomas (Nick Gomez) only appears on the TV series, but he serves the same function as Dexter from the comics, letting walkers into the prison enclave before being killed by Rick for doing so.
Andrea (Laurie Holden) is killed in the season 3 finale of the show after the Governor arranges for her to be bitten by a walker, though Andrea shoots herself before she can turn. In the comic, Andrea only just recently died, at a point in the story that is well past where the show has gotten.
Hershel had many children in the comics, but Beth was not one of them. None of the Greene kids in the comics directly correlates to Beth — though the closest would be Billy Greene, a teenager who is killed when Woodbury folks attack the prison.
Beth’s entire time at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, likewise, is completely original to the show.
In the comics, Jessie Anderson only had one son, Ron, but in the show she had two: Ron and Sam.
The circumstances under which Jessie and her family died were different in the show as well. In both versions they, along with Rick and Carl, were navigating a walker horde while smeared in walker blood. In the comics this gambit simply failed, but on the show their deaths occurred because Sam had a nervous breakdown when he spotted a child walker.
The circumstances under which Sherry left Dwight to become one of Negan’s wives was changed on the show. In the comics she married Negan in hopes of making life easier for the two of them. On the show, she agreed to marry Negan when he was about to kill Dwight for going AWOL.
The reason Negan burned Dwight’s face was also different in the comics than the show. In the book, Negan burned Dwight for sleeping with Sherry after the left him for Negan. On the show, Sherry agreed to marry Negan so he’d spare Dwight, but Negan burned him with the hot iron anyway.
Negan killed Glenn in the season 7 premiere, as he also did in the comics. But the show faked us out first by having Negan also kill Abraham. In the comics, Abraham was killed by another of the Saviors, Dwight, before the confrontation with Negan happened.
In season 7 of the show, Richard was killed by Morgan as revenge — Richard had carried out a plan to start a war between the Kingdom and the Saviors, but all it accomplished was getting the teenager Benjamin killed. In the comics, however, Benjamin was shot and killed by one of the Saviors during a big battle in the war that the show hadn’t gotten to yet.
In season 7, Eugene has become a turncoat against Rick and Alexandria, becoming a willing collaborator with the Saviors after being captured. In the books, however, Eugene was captured by the Saviors only after Alexandria went to war with them — and he refused to help them at all while in captivity.
After the attack on the Sanctuary, a different person is left behind on the show and the comics. In the Season 8 premiere of the show, after the battle ends and the walkers invade, Father Gabriel is the only one of Rick’s party who gets trapped there — in the comics, it was Holly who ends up trapped in Sanctuary after the battle.
In the Season 8 mid-season finale, we discovered that Carl has been bitten by a walker, and then he died in the next episode. In the comics to date, which the show is not close to catching up to, Carl remains alive, making this one of the biggest departures from the comics the show has ever done.
Out of nowhere, in the second half of season 8 a woman named Georgie showed to to give the Hilltop a book explaining how to build mills and aqueducts and stuff. This character has never been in the comics at all, but she does look oddly like the leader of a comics faction called the Commonwealth that the show isn’t even close to getting to yet. Or is it?
Simon, Negan’s second in command until the next-to-last episode of season 8, is original to the show and took the story of the Saviors completely off its comic book rails. The war with the Saviors in the comics ends with the battle at the Hilltop — which Simon led instead of Negan on the show and which ended in a stalemate instead of being the decisive fight. Simon’s attempted coup is also original to the show.