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The Walking Dead Moment That Comic Fans Think Needed To Be Darker

When writer Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore (later to be replaced by Charlie Adlard) released a little comic called The Walking Dead in 2003, they had no idea what a sensation it would become. Its immense popularity would give rise to a television show of the same name, two spin-off shows, video games, novels — the works. As is often the case with offshoots and adaptations, the storylines don't always stay 100% true to Kirkman's original, creator-owned work. Which makes sense, since things that work in one medium don't always work in another.

Regardless, fans will forever debate about X moment being done better in the comic, or Y moment being done better on the show, or Z moment only existing in the game and being better than both the alternatives. Indeed, when Redditor plague_e_us brought up how they feel Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is often protected by plot armor on the show, AwakenedSam responded with a moment from the comic in which Rick's agency is not in question at all, and which differs considerably in the show — namely, the cannibal storyline.

Spoilers for The Walking Dead show and comic ahead!

The show's cannibals: Terminus

Near the end of season four, multiple characters discover maps leading to a place called Terminus. "Sanctuary for all," the signs read. "Community for all. Those who arrive survive." Meeting new groups of people tends to end disastrously on TWD, but as they say, curiosity killed the cat. Eventually, Rick, Michonne (Danai Gurira), Glenn (Steven Yeun), and the gang are captured by the Terminants — who are actually cannibals — then stuffed into railroad cars like cattle ripe for the slaughter.

One member of the group, however, is free as a bird: Carol (Melissa McBride). She blows up a gas tank, letting walkers inside the compound and distracting Terminus' residents long enough for Rick and crew to escape amidst the chaos that erupts. It's a tight, exciting action scene: bullets flying, explosions and fire, walkers killing and getting killed left and right. Terminus is in ruins by the end, but little do our heroes realize that Gareth (Andrew J. West), leader of the cannibals, and a few of his underlings escape as well.

The two groups inevitably cross paths again, but this time, Rick makes it clear who's in charge. Ambushing Gareth and the remaining Terminants in an old church, a one-sided bloodbath ensues. In Rick's mind, leaving Gareth alive would mean more people getting eaten, so there's no other choice — though getting revenge for the late Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.), whose leg the cannibals ate, makes it even easier. The "I'm right, you're wrong" mindset makes his own brutality in the scene ironic, indeed: He shoots off Gareth's finger, barely listening to the man's final pleas, and cutting him down with a machete. 

This is dark, yes — but not as dark as it was the comics, in AwakenedSam's opinion.

The comic's cannibals: the Hunters

Terminus is an entire community of cannibals in the show, but the comic's cannibals make up a much smaller group. Referring to themselves as the Hunters, group leader Chris is embarrassed to admit they're not very good at hunting. Combined with their dwindling food supply, their inefficiency drove them to hunt much "easier game," as Chris says: people. The remaining men went so far as to eat their own women and children, to survive. Regretful of their actions or not, it's obvious to Rick and crew how dangerous the Hunters are, and as the Reddit user argues, they deal with them far more efficiently.

In the animal kingdom, the predator isn't always a match for the prey. Indeed, the Hunters are well aware Rick's group outnumbers them greatly, so, unlike the Terminants, a direct approach won't work — they need to be smarter than that, if they want to eat. Consequently, they use the cover of night to go after our heroes, one by one, munching on Dale's leg as they do Bob's in the show. 

Rick isn't one to stand idly by while his group is in peril. Strolling up to all six Hunters unarmed, Rick pretends to negotiate with the cannibals. He and Chris talk for a bit, but Rick is quick to drop the charade. "Andrea," he says, "The big guy, left ear. 'Pow.'" 

Andrea's a crack shot, and makes good on Rick's word moments later, blasting off a Hunter's ear. She also blows off Chris' finger (ala Gareth in the series). Helpless, he sobs and begs for mercy, but Rick doesn't believe cannibals who were prepared to come after everyone he loves deserve even an iota of mercy. "Hold him down," Rick says. As the Hunters would have done to them, Rick and crew chop them up while they're still alive, and burn the bodies. The corresponding comic panels are all wordless, but readers know screams of pain and agony fill the night. Simply killing the Terminants is enough for the TV version of Rick, but comic book Rick wants the Hunters to feel the fear they've struck in countless victims before they perish. 

A number fans have missed having those extra layers of darkness on the show, but it's all relative. No matter the medium, TWD stories rarely hold anything back.