The Walking Dead: Joys of breaking canon

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, The Walking Dead -- AMC
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, The Walking Dead -- AMC /

Breaking canon can be a liberating thing for some of the characters in The Walking Dead universe. It means anything can happen, and it probably will.

When comic books, graphic novels, and novels are adapted for film and television the events and characters are frequently modified.  Longtime fans that follow the original source material, no matter the medium, often compare the old to the new. It’s only natural to make comparisons, really. It happens with Game of Thrones all the time. It’s no wonder, then, that fans of The Walking Dead comics frequently compare the show with the books. And that’s exactly why characters and events that break from canon are so much fun. (I’m going to try my best not to spoil anything for those of you who have yet to read the comics or watch the show…so if this article sounds a little vague, it’s me trying to avoid spoilers!)

Changes in characters and storylines are par for the course and they often lead to pleasant surprises in casting. One of the most beloved characters on HBO’s True Blood was Lafayette, less than a minor character that died in the first book of the Sookie Stackhouse series but became a main character throughout the show’s run. Looking at The Walking Dead, there are several characters that have escaped their fate and are still among us, like Judith, while other characters are entirely new.

I’ve mentioned before that I have not read The Walking Dead comics (by design, not yet) but I do know that some characters are still alive on the show that should have been dead, and there are some characters that are dead on the show that live on in the comics. And then there are new characters that don’t have to worry about source material.

What’s nice is that these minor adjustments open things up to new possibilities. It’s fun to think that keeping Judith around longer could change the way a future battle plays out. Keeping Judith safe, for example, might keep another character safe that would have been killed off otherwise.

As we wait for The Walking Dead to return, everyone is guessing which characters won’t survive 7B. And that’s all we have: Guesses. Speculation. It doesn’t really matter who died in the comics because we’ve already seen characters outlast their fate. A cast member taking on other projects doesn’t matter because showrunners can work around those things with supply runs and prolonged absences. Even college can’t keep an actor away from the show.

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Breaking canon can be a great way to explore new opportunities or to go down the other path instead of the one that’s expected. That’s why we really won’t know what is going to happen in The Walking Dead 7B and beyond until they happen.