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What Only The Walking Dead Comics Fans Know About Carol

Fans of the AMC television series The Walking Dead have come to love Carol Peletier. Played by Melissa McBride, Carol is the longest-surviving female character on the show. She and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) are the only characters that remain from The Walking Dead season 1. Her calm demeanor, no-nonsense attitude, and compassion for others have won the hearts of viewers, to the point that she's getting a spin-off series on AMC. Carol will headline her own show with Daryl when The Walking Dead concludes its 11-season run, which is certainly exciting for those who've kept up with her small-screen journey since the very beginning. 

But for fans of The Walking Dead comic books created by Robert Kirkman, a show starring Carol makes no sense. That's because the Carol of the comics is a very different person — much less resilient than her TV counterpart. Comic-book Carol defines herself by her relationships with men, is prone to bouts of despair, and experiences an ultimate fate much sadder than what we see on the AMC series.

Carol's husband Ed is dead in the comics

Shortly after her husband Ed dies by suicide, comic-book Carol Peletier links up with Lori Grimes and Shane Walsh's group of survivors. Carol is fleeing with her daughter Sophia, and aids the Atlanta survivors with housewifely tasks like washing clothes and watching the group's children. She quickly becomes best friends with Lori Grimes, as both women are raising children while their husbands are out of the picture. Carol's abusive spouse is dead, and Lori believes Rick is either still comatose or completely dead in Atlanta. In the comics, Carol and Lori rely on each other as support amid life post-zombie-apocalypse, even after Rick joins the group. It's this need for constant emotional support that will eventually be Carol's downfall.

A big difference between the Carol of the comics and the Carol we know from TV is Ed. Comic-Carol's husband is dead before the series begins, but we meet Ed Peletier on the show. (Adam Minarovich plays him.) This means we also see the abuse Carol suffers. While the physical abuse Ed inflicts upon Carol is only hinted at in the comics, it's actually shown in the Walking Dead TV show. Ed attacks Carol in front of the other survivors, which leads Shane (played by Jon Bernthal) to beat him. After having her personhood validated by the group, Carol begins to stand up for herself. The comic book version of Carol never got that chance for agency, which could be one reason she is so much less resilient than her television counterpart.

Carol never gets closure in the Walking Dead comics

AMC's Carol gets to show more inner strength than her comics counterpart by going through much more onscreen trauma. We see Carol's husband and daughter die on the television show — but in the comics, Ed is never seen and Sophia survives her mother (more on that later). While Carol in the Walking Dead comics experiences hardships, they are more personal and less walker-related. Her life gets swept up in drama, whereas TV Carol gets opportunities for personal growth. 

Ed is killed in a walker attack in the season 1 episode "Vatos," and in the following episode, Carol destroys his body with a pickaxe. She does this ostensibly to prevent his reanimation, but Carol really uses the opportunity to vent over years of abuse. While you only need to destroy the brain to prevent a dead body from becoming a zombie, Carol repeatedly pickaxes her former husband. We don't know how comic book Carol disposed of her husband's remains, but it was probably not as cathartic an experience.

Sophia Peletier outlives her mother, whose romances are different in the comics too

As mentioned, in the Walking Dead comic books, Sophia Peletier outlives her mother Carol. On television, Sophia (portrayed by Madison Lintz) is turned into a walker off screen. She gets separated from the group during a supply run, and later, the survivors meet the Greene family on their farm. There, it's revealed that Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) has been keeping walkers in his barn in hopes that they are still human at heart. When Shane lets the walkers out of the barn, Carol discovers that Sophia is among them. 

Despite losing her husband and her daughter, Carol carries on in the AMC series, and she doesn't begin any romantic relationships for a few seasons. Things happen differently in the comic books, however, as Carol starts a relationship with Tyreese Williams (played in the show by Chad Coleman) very early on in the story. Tyreese joins the survivors right before they come upon the Meriwether County Correctional Facility, and he and Carol have instant chemistry when they meet. Tyreese in the comics is a father, and his daughter often babysits Sophia. Carol and Tyreese continue their relationship at the prison, but everything changes when Michonne shows up and begins to pursue Tyreese, despite Carol's presence. Carol is immediately jealous, and when Michonne and Tyreese hook up in the prison, it pushes Carol over the edge.

Carol gives up on life in The Walking Dead #41

After Michonne and Tyreese's tryst in the Walking Dead comics, Carol becomes distraught and being alone and quickly unravels. Initially, she attempts to end her life in front of her daughter, which frightens Sophia and causes her to distances herself from her mother. That isolates Carol even more than before. She feels looked down on upon by the group for attempting suicide, rejected by Tyreese, and disrespected by Michonne. A desperately, lonely Carol eventually propositions Rick, asking to join him and Lori in a polyamorous relationship. Rick rejects Carol, and Lori interprets a touch from Carol as another sexual proposition, turning her back on her as well.

Feeling truly friendless, Carol dies by suicide in The Walking Dead #41. Carol asks Lori to look after Sophia if anything ever happens to her, then vents her feelings to a zombie being held in the prison for research purposes. She tells the zombie that after her suicide attempt, no one respects her. "You're probably not going to like it here, y'know. They're nice enough people, at first they're great, but they're so god**** judgmental," Carol says. "One slip-up... and that's it for you really." Carol then lets the zombie bite her, remarking that it really does "like" her.

When the others find Carol, she asks that they let her die in peace. She dies in Tyreese's arms, and is put down before she can attack him.

Why is Carol so different in the Walking Dead comics?

So, why does Carol in the comic books have such a different fate than the one we see on TV? Arguably, television Carol is accepted by the group earlier and more fully than her comic book counterpart. The turning point for TV-Carol is when the survivors defend her from Ed. Since the comic book survivors never meet Ed, they never get to choose Carol over him. Instead, Carol relies on one-on-one support from people like Lori and Tyreese — people who have their own problems and cannot be fully present for Carol in the way she desires.

Carol is shunned by her boyfriend, her daughter, and her best friends in the Walking Dead comics. She experiences a lot of loss — not because the people close to her were all casualties of the apocalypse, but because most people chose to distance themselves from her. Comic-book Carol was, in plain terms, personally rejected. On the other hand, TV-Carol had people she loved taken from her impersonally by the zombie apocalypse. 

AMC's Carol Peletier has been hardened by life after the end of the world. She lost her daughter and her husband, but she gained a sense of self-reliance. And she very nearly almost had the same fate as her comic book counterpart, according to Walking Dead universe head Scott Gimple. "There was some investigation going on about killing Carol," Gimple previously told Looper in an exclusive interview. "It got pretty far down the line and I was pretty hardcore against that. Because I saw her journey of going from somebody under her ex-husband's thumb to being a warrior." 

Carol and Daryl both started as defined by their relationship to others, but now stand alone. It's this hard-won self-reliance that will lead them on their own adventures in their forthcoming spin-off.