Part of what makes The Walking Dead such a good show is the heavy involvement of Robert Kirkman, the lead author for the comics. He's stated that the show provides an opportunity to write characters differently, and give characters he'd maybe killed off in the comics a second chance. It's not just characters though, as the television show format provides many opportunities for The Walking Dead to shine. With that said, here's some "stuff and thangs" I believe the show has done better than the comics.
Spoilers for both the television show and the comic book series are included throughout.
5 - Carol Peletier and Daryl Dixon
"I ain't nobody's bitch." - Daryl DixonHere's an example of two fan favourite characters that were either completely different in the comic or did not exist all together. Surprising as it may seem, neither of the Dixon brothers featured in Kirkman's comic books. The role of right-hand man went to Tyreese and then Abraham, and Carol was just an insane woman with little development, killing herself at the prison.
Within the realms of television, however, Carol has become something of a badass, and Daryl has arguably the largest fanbase out of any of the characters on the show. The reason these two rank so far down, however, is due to the spotlight always being shone in their direction. Many characters have gone through dry spells of development whilst Carol and Daryl continue to have it shovelled their way. Both characters are great, that much is indisputable, but perhaps without them Andrea and Tyreese would have been better off. It's still a case of Kirkman rewriting characters and making them stronger though, hence their appearance on the list.
4 - Morgan's Return
"We can all change... it's all a circle." - Morgan JonesAh, Morgan. You will forever be one of my favourite characters in AMCs "The Walking Dead". A man filled with development episodes, an fascinating character arc and now a prominent role within the group, Morgan is certainly one of the more interesting characters on the show. Not so in the comics however.
Rescued from his insanity by Rick, Abraham and Carl, Morgan rejoins the group after the fall of the prison. Never going through his shift from deranged killer to pacifist before being killed when the hoard attacks Alexandria, the character falls slightly flat and doesn't carry much impact. The return of Morgan Jones was presented far better in the show - the death of his son triggering his descent into madness, finally finding himself again thanks to Eastman and then returning to the world to find Rick Grimes. Morgan has become a character with so much going for him and there's still room for more development, all factors he was lacking in the comics.
3 - The Greene Family
"Now I can make these people feel better and hang on a little bit longer. I can save lives. That's reason enough to risk mine." - Hershel GreeneIn the comic series, the story that takes place at Hershel Greene's farm feels very much like the B-movie zombie flicks we desperately try to avoid. Hershel loses three children (he has a lot of them in the comics) almost as soon as the group arrive, and loses yet another three at the prison. Hershel himself dies unceremoniously when the Governor attacks, leaving only Maggie to represent the family. It all feels very rushed, something the show did not.
While season two is heavily criticised for being too slow in places, it allowed plenty of time for Hershel and his more reasonably sized family to develop as characters. This carried on in later seasons, Hershel becoming a strong contender for one of my favourite characters in season 4, Beth doing the same in season 5 before her pointless death at the hands of Dawn. Maggie feels stronger as a character too, her pregnancy in season 6 helping to add depth to her relationship with Glenn and the rest of the group. She doesn't just feel like Glenn's wife; something she did until her husband met his end in the comics.
2 - Overall Pacing
Yes, there is filler in the show. And when you're watching it weekly, the episodes where character development takes centre stage can be a drag. Fortunately, I binge watch the show most of the time, so that's not the case. Character development episodes are a welcome sight, allowing backgrounders to step up, leading characters to go through massive character shifts and new layers of depth being given to the universe as a whole. The comics felt very rushed in comparison, particularly the first few issues, before slowing to a grinding halt as the group reached Alexandria. It's a real shock to the system for readers who expect a great deal of action to have to wait a month for a comic that contains little to none. The show, as a whole, does a much better job of pacing its story arcs: every episode feels like it matters which is something commendable for a show with 16 episodes per season... and then there's season 3. But let's not talk about that.
1 - Shane Walsh
"I thought you weren't the good guy anymore. Ain't that what you said? I'm a better father than you, Rick. I'm better for Lori than you, man. It's 'cause I'm a better man than you, Rick. But you come back here and you just destroy everything!"Oh my Lord, I have so much to say about Shane. I love this guy so much. He's such an interesting character, he has so much development, his shift from right-hand man to primary antagonist was absolutely perfect... just such a well written character. In the show. Because in the comic, Shane sucks. A character that is rushed and given little time to stand on his own two feet, Shane Walsh falls so flat it's unbelievable. Rick's best friend turned crazy guy pretty much sums up his appearance over the course of the five (yes... five) issues he appears in and it's lacklustre at best.
In the show, however, Kirkman did everything he could to make Shane a more interesting character. It starts with the casting, Jon Bernthal is amazing in the role and gives a stellar performance throughout; facial expressions are incredibly important when acting for television and Bernthal is truly a master. Writing, too, is also great for the character. Shane feels fleshed out, like he matters, and when he meets his end in season 2 it's bittersweet. Sweet, because he was an asshole and killing him was the right move... but bitter because he was a great character and a brilliant antagonist. And those are tricky things to get right.
So, there you go. My top 5 things the show did better than the comics! Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Stay tuned, because part 2 of this article is coming soon, featuring the inverse list: top 5 things the comics did better than the show.
Jacob is a long-time Walking Dead enthusiast with a bizarre idea of what constitutes a 'good character'. He tends to spend most of his time crying into his pillow over Beth Greene's death that happened two years ago.