Walking Dead: TV Series vs. Graphic Novels Part IV

The Walking Dead – TV Series Vs. Graphic Novels - Part IV

This is the fourth article in a continuing series. Spoiler Warning - although the comics often differ, there may be potential spoilers included.

Despite a few grievances, I am a committed fan of The Walking Dead TV series. My biggest applause for the series is how they've found a balance between staying true to the essence of the graphic novels, while also converting the stories to more compelling narratives for TV; and all the while, keeping fans of the graphic novels guessing. For the purpose of this series, we'll compare a few of the adaptations between the graphic novels and the TV series to see what has worked and what has not.

Fourth Up: Dale, Andrea, and The Governor.

Dale - Walking Dead TV vs. Graphic Novel

Dale - SOMEWHAT WORKED - 4 out of 8 zombie heads.

Zombie Score 4

Dale was deemed one of the more annoying characters on the show by the majority of TV viewers, me being one of them. I liked the tension and conflict that his character brought to the show, but he himself was a little too preachy and self-righteous for my taste. The basic themes that Dale's character represented were the same in the TV series as the graphic novels, the actual plot points involving his character were very different. In the comics, Dale had a romantic relationship with Andrea, not just a father-daughter one, and he survived well beyond Hershel's farm. In fact, in the comics it was Dale and Andrea who discovered the prison, whereas in the TV show, Dale never lived to see it. It was a smart move for the show to limit Dale and Andrea's relationship, but even without the romance, I still found Dale and Andrea's relationship a little odd when watching the series; his jealousy over her attraction to Shane being one example.

I did credit the show for how they handled Dale's death; it was a shock to both fans of the comics and TV viewers. And it came at the height of the great debate among the group to hold on their humanity versus doing whatever it takes to survive. Even more-so than Rick, Dale lead the charge in refusing to execute the stranger to the group, Randall. At that point in the series, the show was moving slowly and several episodes in a row became all talk and no action. By the episode "Judge, Jury, Executioner," I found myself wishing that something exciting would happen on the show, and I was getting irritated by Dale's constant lectures about the dangers of Shane. But by the end of the episode, the writers delivered. Not only was his death a surprise, but the way it happened was horrifying, and even though I had been annoyed by his character over and over again, I was actually sad for him when Daryl pulled the trigger. And I give the series points for managing to tug at my heart strings over the death of an annoying character.

Andrea - Walking Dead TV vs. Graphic Novel

Andrea - DIDN'T WORK - 2 out of 8 zombie heads.

Zombie Score 2

One of my biggest complaints about the differences between the comics and the series in Season 3 has been the separation of Andrea from the Atlanta group, and her involvement in Woodbury. In the graphic novels, Andrea finds the prison and is never part of the Woodbury clan. I assume the writers put Andrea in Woodbury to give the show a way to introduce this town with brand new characters, without giving away too much about how they would intersect with the prison characters down the road. I also assume they expected it to create a strong dramatic climax by pitting Andrea against her friends and forcing her to eventually make a choice between the two. The problem with this tactic is that Andrea has become the least likeable character on the show, yet it's made her one of the greatest focuses this season.

Just when her character was starting to grow on me by the end of Season 2, she turns around in Season 3 and ditches Michonne, falls for the Governor, and then continues to ignore his sadism time and time again. And let's not forget about her speech to the people of Woodbury, aka the worst speech ever made in Walking Dead history.

With all this said, I will admit that by the end of the episode "Prey", in which I thought I would care less one way or the other if the Governor killed Andrea, I still managed to root for her by the time she just about got to the prison. Also, the look on Andrea's face when she was in the warehouse and opened the door to let all of the walkers charge at the Governor was one of the best moments of the season. Still, I tribute this to how much I hate the Governor, more than my caring about Andrea.

Governor - Walking Dead TV vs. Graphic Novel

The Governor - WORKED - 7 out of 8 zombie heads.

Zombie Score 7

The Governor in the TV series is also very different from his comic counterpart; however, the show has managed to make him equally as sadistic. Fans of the comics love the Governor's background story and the conflict he brings to the survivors at the prison. The graphic novels have a separate series, "Rise of the Governor" that provide his entire background story and an explanation of how he became so power-hungry; whereas the show can only devote so much time to his character. But the series used their time wisely, and they've done a successful job at making him a "love-to-hate character."

The show also had to make some changes to the Governor's character as there are some things are just too much to watch on television, like a man attempting to kiss his young, zombified niece (daughter in the TV show), or the brutal rape and torture of Michonne. But the series still managed to keep the essence of the Governor alive, with his trophy of zombie heads, his torture room, and his eerie "I'm about to murder you and enjoy it" whistle.

Prior to Season 3, Shane was the closest thing to a recurring "bad guy" on the show, but the audience was still able to relate to him and sympathize with him. The Governor has had his sympathetic moments – telling Rick about his wife's death prior to the apocalypse and his distress over the death of his daughter Penny – these moments keep him interesting, but no matter what, he's still despicable. The Governor is in a whole new class of "bad guy", and it has been gratifying as a viewer to watch how the apocalypse has completely transformed a person into an evil manipulator. Plus, the show needed to explore this type of extreme human vs. human, rather than human vs. zombie, conflict that the comics do such a good job of exploring over and over again.

The series is gearing up for a showdown between Woodbury and the Prison, and I'm anxious to see how they will handle the fate of the Governor. At this point, they can't keep it entirely true to the comics, and I'm personally hoping that one of the prison survivors will get to kill him (Glenn would be my top choice), but we can't even be sure that the series will get rid of the Governor after this season. I hope they do for the good of the storyline, but it will still be sad to see one of the best characters leave the show.


From looking at these characters and their graphic novel counterparts, it's easy to see why the show has to make changes from its source material. The comics go all out with "graphic content" and disturbing storylines, whereas the show has to have some boundaries to be suitable for television. Instead of the Governor brutally raping Michonne, he makes Maggie stand before him naked and threatens her; instead of Michonne removing the Governors' genitals and scooping out his eye with a spoon, she kills Penny with her katana and stabs his eye with glass. The end results are the same – we hate the sadistic Governor, and root for Michonne to get her revenge. The Walking Dead has continued to find clever ways to remain true to the spirit of the original material; it's only when the series deviates too far, such as in Andrea's case, that it struggles to compare to the comics.

Check back next week for the conclusion of the TV Series vs. the Graphic Novels. In the meantime, if you haven't checked out the graphic novels click here to get started. And you can check out the previous entries in our series below:

Shane, Rick & Lori, and Glenn & Maggie || Carol & Sophia, Daryl, and Tyreese || Morgan & Duane, and Michonne

Walking Dead Comic

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About The Author
Alexandra Pursglove
Alexandra Pursglove
Alex was in the movie industry in LA, and now dedicates her time to non-profit work.