The Walking Dead: Staying true and breaking canon

Daryl Dixon - The Walking Dead 710, AMC
Daryl Dixon - The Walking Dead 710, AMC /

Is The Walking Dead better when the show charts its own course or should it be following the comics to the fullest extent possible?

I recently read an interesting article that posited that The Walking Dead is best when it deviates from the comic books. The premise of the article is that season 7 has been following Negan’s storyline, but the addition of the Scavengers has added a jolt of energy to the show.

(Full disclosure before we get any further, I’m starting to read the comics, but for the most part I’m a show purist, and that’s by design. I want to enjoy the show as it is, and then I’ll get into the comics.)

There have been many instances when the show has developed its own characters, and by the same token there are many examples of characters that break from canon and stay alive longer than they did in the comics. Original characters like Daryl are perennial surprises because they have no history or expectations. That’s what makes the Scavengers so interesting, as well as the Termites and Wolves, two more examples of original groups who showed up outside of canon. No one knows who they are or where they came from, nor do we know what will happen with them. From a canon perspective, is this a good thing or a bad thing?

The Walking Dead is based on a comic book series, and because there is original source material there is a sense that it should follow that source material. The argument that originality in the show’s characters and plots is refreshing to the show is incredibly divisive. I know many people who have been waiting for Negan to arrive to start watching the show, and by contrast I know many people who get frustrated when characters like Daryl get all the attention.

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Showrunners walk a very fine line between staying true to the books and keeping things fresh. There’s no right or wrong answer here, rather everyone is going to have their own opinions and that’s what is so great about the TWD Family–we all have our own reasons for enjoying the show.

I pose the question to you, the readers: Do you like it when The Walking Dead stays focused on canon or when it carves its own path?