The Walking Dead: 10 major character swaps from the comic book

The exciting new footage from AMC’s The Walking Dead Season 7 trailer at Comic-Con has certainly whetted the appetites of fans mere months after the tumultuous teaser of a cliffhanger in the April 3 Season 6 finale, “Last Day on Earth,” left them more sour than lemon-soaked rhubarb.

The suspenseful season-closing sequence made a mystery of which member of the group led by Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes got treated as a watermelon to Negan’s Gallagher. However, a recent interview "slip" by Negan actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan suggests (with a huge grain of salt) that the show might just pull a fast one on fans of Robert Kirkman’s originally inspiring The Walking Dead comic book series by not having said victim be Glenn, as destiny seemingly decreed since the incident originally occurred in Issue #100 of the comic in 2012.

Thus, our secret word for the day is “swap,” since the television show sometimes chooses to swap characters out when adapting sequences analogous from the comic book series. While we’ll have to wait until the Season 7 premiere on Oct. 23 to find out if showrunner Scott Gimple and company did, indeed, swap out the head-bashed victim of Negan’s barbed-wire baseball bat “Lucille,” we figured it was a good time to look back on other notable comic book sequence swaps throughout the history of The Walking Dead on television.

10. Tomas for Dexter as the Prison's problem inmate

When Rick and the group first arrived at the Prison back in Season 3, they had to watch themselves around some stray cellblock denizens in Oscar, Axel, Andrew, Big Tiny and the serpent of the bunch, Tomas. Indeed, Tomas (Nick Gomez) was demonstrably ruthless and suffered from an acute case of alpha-male-itis, with transparent intentions to kill Rick and take things over. Well, he tried during a dead-clearing mission when he threw a walker onto Rick; a favor that was immediately returned by Rick to Tomas with a machete in the skull!

The comic series had a similarly belligerent prisoner with ill intentions toward Rick named Dexter. Like the swapped character Tomas, Dexter was an aggressive puffed-chested problem presence that was metastasizing quickly. However, with Dexter, Rick proved to be rather ruthless himself and took the initiative to coldly shoot Dexter in the head while they were both temporarily fighting on the same side while attending to an invading walker (or “roamer”) horde. 

9. Lilly Chambler for Lilly Caul as the Governor's killer

In Season 4, we met Tara Chambler’s tragedy-destined family, notably her older sister, Lilly, with a young daughter named Meghan. On the show, Lilly (Audrey Marie Anderson) took pity on a wandering post-Woodbury-massacre Governor, letting him into her home, her family’s heart and yes, eventually her bed (in the back of a van, anyway). However, when the Governor inevitably went full Governor and was nonchalant about the accidental death of her daughter while leading an assault on Rick’s group at the Prison, it was the last straw. Consequently, after the Governor was fatally wounded by Michonne’s blade, the last thing he saw was Lilly pointing a pistol at his head and pulling the trigger.

The comic series’ analogous character was Lilly Caul. While this Lilly’s past was fleshed out dramatically different in the pages of Kirkman’s TWD expansion novels, she was only depicted in the series as a conscientious objector to the Governor’s attack on the Prison. Her existing dissatisfaction culminated after discovering that she had shot and killed Lori and her unborn baby (Judith). Enraged at what she was made to do, she shot the Governor in the back of the head, taking out his one good eye, then shoved his (still living) body into a herd of hungry undead.

8. Deanna Monroe for Douglas Monroe

“Who’s Deanna?” Abraham famously inquired. Well, she was a former Ohio congresswoman and post-apocalyptic leader of the Alexandria Safe Zone. First appearing in the tail end of Season 5, Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh) was welcoming, but cautious in her approach to Rick’s road-weary strays. While evidently intelligent, it became apparent that she looked the other way past inconvenient issues (like the abusive doctor “Porchdick” Pete,) in the name of expediency and was generally clueless about the walker outbreak. However, despite eventually losing her husband and son, she started getting up to speed. Her eventual end was brave and sacrificial during Alexandria’s siege from the mega-herd.

Deanna was a gender-swapped version of an age-similar man, Douglas Monroe, from the comic. Sporting a virtually identical background to his show counterpart, Douglas also seemed to enjoy his position of power while nursing animosity for his power-abusive predecessor, Alexander Davidson. However, unlike Deanna, Douglas didn’t get a noble end, since – in another swap example – his participation in the evacuation of Alexandria during the mega-herd ordeal culminated when he got taken by roamers before accidentally shooting Carl in the eye; a fate given to young Ron on the show.

7. T-Dog for Carol as the self-sacrificial walker bait

In Season 3, Andrew, one of the existing “residents” of the Prison, took Tomas’s death badly and instigated a walker invasion, leading to serious tragedy for Rick’s group - the death of his pregnant wife, Lori, and her post-mortem C-section. However, in another part of the Prison, an Atlanta camp original in T-Dog (IronE Singleton) made his valiant last stand during that fracas. Having sustained a bite, T-Dog decided to make his imminent death mean something by throwing himself on an obstructive pair of walkers in the hallway, allowing Carol to escape.

While fans now praise Melissa McBride’s badass turn as Carol in the last few seasons, Comic Carol was certifiably insane. Unlike her TV counterpart, this Carol didn’t suffer the loss of her daughter Sophia, yet somehow became a needy nutter desperate for romantic attention from practically everyone and even meekly tried to wrangle a ménage à trois with Rick and Lori. However, after a relationship with Tyreese went south due to Michonne’s wiles, Carol decided that enough was enough and threw herself onto a tied roamer, screaming in demented ecstasy, taking its flesh-consuming bites as signs of affection.

6. Beth Greene for Susie & Rachel Greene

Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) experienced quite the evolution from the spoiled, suicidal farm girl we met in Season 2, having witnessed horrors as friends and family succumbed to tragedy over subsequent seasons, notably the Governor’s execution of her father Herschel. While Beth became a battle-hardened, level-headed philosophical survivor, Season 5 saw her noble end when she was accidentally shot in the head while standing up to a demented hospital despot masquerading as a cop named Dawn Lerner during a hostage exchange.

Beth, like another fan favorite in Daryl, does not exist in the comic book continuity. Instead, the Greene kids consisted of daughters Maggie (obviously) and Lacey, twins Susie and Rachel, along with boys Billy, Arnold, Shawn and young Hershel. Almost all the comic-exclusive Greenes were quickly whittled away, notably Rachel and Susie, who were butchered in the Prison by a serial killer named Thomas. With the closer-in-age (late) Lacey depicted as a non-relative Barn Walker on the show, Beth could be a singular swap for Susie and Rachel, since they were innocent and capricious like Beth was in the beginning. Also, like the twins, Beth was the brief object of fixation for a prisoner, in this case, Axel. Although, Beth’s situation proved to be innocent.

5. Ron & Sam for Ron as the ruiner(s) of the Alexandria evacuation

After Rick Grimes killed the abusive “Porchdick” Pete, he awkwardly became a father figure for his sons, Ron and Sam Anderson, while romancing their mother, Jessie. While little Sam (Major Dodson) was jumpy when not cowering in his room, the angsty teenager Ron (Austin Abrams) bottled his resentment of Rick and especially Carl, who even stole his girlfriend, Enid. However, during Alexandria’s mega-herd ordeal, the sight of Jessie and Sam getting taken by walkers while Rick chopped off his mother’s arm to free Carl from her death grip, was just too much. After pulling a gun on Rick, Ron was subsequently sword-stabbed by Michonne, causing him to accidentally shoot out Carl’s eye!

However, in the comics, Ron and Sam was just...well, Ron, who singularly served the dual purpose of being Carl’s fellow child rival and the composure-lacking ruiner of the Alexandria evacuation. It was a swap necessitated by the need for an age peer matching Carl actor Chandler Riggs’s pesky pubescent growth and the iconic Alexandria mega-herd sequence still requiring a small, fatally loquacious child. However, as mentioned in Item #8, Douglas Monroe, rather than Ron, originally gave Carl the proverbial Red Ryder BB Gun eye-shot special in the comic sequence.

4. Lizzie & Mika for Billy & Ben as the sibling murder victims

One of the show’s most tragic and unforgettable moments was the story of young sisters Lizzie and Mika Samuels. Former Woodbury residents Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika (Kyla Kenedy) debuted in Season 4 as their father succumbed to walker bites in the Prison. From there, we witnessed the contrast between the level-headed younger sister, Mika, with her increasingly demented older sister Lizzie, who turned into an earnestly confused killer. Later staying in an abandoned house with the girls after the Prison evacuation, Carol and Tyreese were shocked to find that Lizzie killed her sister with a knife, under the belief that coming back as a walker freed people from their fears. As she was threatening (or offering) to kill everyone, even baby Judith, Carol had little choice but to bring Lizzie out to a field, telling her to “look at the flowers” before she put a bullet in the back of the troubled child’s head.

The comics gave this sequence to twin brother children named Billy and Ben during the long migration of Rick’s group to Washington D.C. After the group found that Ben – with similar intent as Lizzie – killed his younger brother, a passionate debate ensued to decide the problem child’s fate. However, during the night, Carl proactively nipped the situation in the bud, sneaking into the van where Ben was kept and shooting him dead!

*On a side note, the show did depict the twins' father Allen, mother Donna and even a teenage version of the would-be fratricide perpetrator Ben (sans Billy) in Season 3. Long story short, they didn’t make it.

3. Hershel for Tyreese as the Governor's head-chopped hostage

On the show, Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) went from the delusional barn-walker-hoarder we met in Season 2 to the lovable, sage, peg-legged planner of the Prison’s traditional “Spaghetti Tuesdays, every Wednesday.” That just made his fate during the Governor’s second assault of the Prison in Season 4 that much more of a tear-jerker. After nabbing Hershel and Michonne outside the grounds to be used as hostages in an unsuccessful attempt to extort the penitentiary real estate, the Governor used Michonne’s katana to decapitate poor Hershel in front of his friends and family; an act that sparked a gigantic battle.

The gravity of the Governor decapitating a beloved member of Rick’s group took a different form in the comics, with Tyreese originally suffering that fate. In this continuity, Tyreese was a more important figure in the story and had been with Rick’s group much longer than his TV counterpart (Chad Coleman) had at this point. Moreover, he had gone through quite the emotional wringer with Rick, often butting heads and eventually settled into the role of Rick’s second in command. Thus, an equally strong sense of emotion was present, comparable on the show to the idea of Daryl getting executed in front of Rick and the group (knock on wood). Of course, the Governor also killed Hershel in the comic, except by way of a gunshot.

2. Philip Blake for Brian Blake as the Governor

On the show, the megalomaniacal misfit leader of the walled community Woodbury known as the Governor debuted in Season 3 as Philip Blake (David Morrissey), a seemingly affable, accommodating, smile-sporting individual who hid some seriously dark proclivities, spending time in a hidden room containing an aquarium of severed walker heads and his chained undead daughter, Penny – that and he’s a homicidal maniac. No one (at least, until Negan,) has caused as much pain and tragedy to Rick and his group as this individual.

The legend of the Governor manifested first in the comics in the form of Brian Blake, Philip’s long-haired, mustachioed brother. In an intriguing example of the multiverse scenarios between the show and comic, Brian Blake became the Governor here, since in the comic continuity – revealed in the Rise of the Governor book – Philip died in the process of abducting/assaulting a girl, leaving Brian to become the Governor, leading Woodbury on a similarly deadly primrose path and becoming the caretaker of his zombified niece Penny, to whom the late Philip fed body parts. Like Philip on the show, Brian also had his eye gouged out by Michonne (with additional losses of a right arm and his manhood), except it was his left eye, as opposed to Philip’s right one.

1. Michonne for Andrea as Rick's Alexandria love interest

Delighting show shippers, Michonne (Dania Gurira) and Rick finally ignited an amorous alliance between the Katana and the Colt Python with an impromptu couch hookup in Season 6 between two of the show’s biggest power players. It was a romance that was a long time coming, delayed by Rick’s doomed relationship with Jessie. However, with Michonne having bonded with Rick on the road after the Prison and serving as a motherly figure to his son Carl, it seemed like a natural progression over the course of seasons between two hardened zombie apocalypse warriors and the culmination of Michonne’s arc.

By dramatic contrast, Michonne had a much different path in the comics, coming across more off-putting than her show counterpart, fielding unsuccessful, often-tragic relationships with Tyreese, Morgan and Ezekiel, often using her strong will and feminine wiles as a way to prove points. Consequently, #Rickshone is definitely not a thing in the comics. Instead, Andrea – still quite alive, unlike her show counterpart played by Laurie Holden – serves as Rick’s significant other in Alexandria. Several aspects of Rick’s Andrea relationship in the comic are mirrored on the show with Michonne, even with a tribute shot to a famous panel with the couple lying naked in bed that was lifted directly out of the comic. It could be seen as a poetic swap, considering how Michonne started on the show as Andrea’s introverted travelling companion.

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