WARNING: Major Spoilers for The Walking Dead comics and show are ahead. Read at your own risk.
The Walking Dead has become one of the most watched shows in television history, and it has made an impact on the framework of horror entertainment since 2010.
After the show began, comic sales went through the roof, adults began to care about collectable toys again, and every Hot Topic in the country was filled with Norman Reedus apparel. It seems like every convention is headlined by a Walking Dead star, and every new series seems to feature a past member of the cast.
Let's face it, The Walking Dead is a national phenomenon; it's completely inescapable. With all the praise and popularity, one glaring question still remains: Could the show have been better?
Think about it. Could The Walking Dead have been better? If you're telling yourself "No", you're lying.
Sure, every show can make little tweaks to improve itself, but that isn't what we're talking about. The Walking Dead made one enormous mistake that has changed its entire framework, and the show is much worse for it.
That mistake? The Walking Dead killed its most important character.
Yes, Rick and Carl are still alive, but neither of them are who this article is about. In the comics, there is one character whose motivations and reactions direct the entire course of the story, and the rest of the group is much better for it.
The series dropped the ball by killing Andrea.
If you're a fan of the comics, you probably agree.
Throghout the 158 issues of The Walking Dead, Andrea has been a significant cornerstone for the story. She started the same as she did on the show, hanging around camp with Amy and Dale, but her evolution went much further.
Instead of the awkward relationship between her and Dale that we saw on the show, the two built a real love together. Even though he was older, she came to admire his wisdom and he felt alive through her youth. After the prison, the couple even adopted a set of twins (the twins were replaced by Lizzie and Mika in the show, who were adopted by Carol).
Over many issues, their relationship was the one the books followed most closely, and their depth was unparalleled. After being through everything together, including the death of their sons, Dale was killed after being bitten and having his leg eaten by cannibals.
Remember how Bob died on the show? That was Dale in the comics.
After Dale's death, Andrea wasn't sure how to go on. She had lost her sister, her sons, and her lover. Much like Rick had lost his best friend, his wife, and his baby girl. Through their loss, the two found each other.
For the latter part of the comic series, Rick and Andrea are the king and queen of The Walking Dead. They realize that each of them has lost so much, but they decided to fight for each other in order to stay alive. They've even gotten to a point where Carl calls Andrea "Mom" and Rick tells Michonne that he loves Andrea more than he ever did Lori.
This tale of loss-turned-love is one of the most emotionally impactful arcs of the comics, and we will never get to see it on-screen. Instead, Andrea was killed by a walker back in Woodbury.
In an attempt to differentiate the series from the comics, the writers made a grave mistake by losing their female lead.
It was easy to tell that this decision didn't happen until the third season, as Andrea and Rick's relationship had undergone so much deep character building from the beginning. In the first season, many conversations between the two characters set up a relationship down the road, and her death just disregarded all of that work.
If you go back and watch their first interaction, in the second episode of the first season, the two have an argument about a loaded gun. This single conversation was meant to come back around when they got together later on, but it'll never happen now.
Not only do we lose the most valuable couple from the comics, but this decision has rippled to many of the other characters on the show. Michonne being the most crucial.
If you've been watching the show, you know that Rick and Michonne are together now. Their relationship may seem odd and out of nowhere; that's because it is.
From the time Michonne debuted in the comics, she was a part of several mesmerizing relationships. First, she and Tyrese fell madly in love. Their brokenness matched each other's, and their relationship was believable. After Tyrese was killed by The Governor, she turned to Morgan.
That bit had it's ups and downs, but it showed how desperate the character was to find love in all the chaos. It showed a truly damaged psyche that turned to a stranger to fill a void. Just as their story started to turn a corner, Morgan was killed.
After losing two men she loved, Michonne seemed irreparable - then came Ezekiel.
Michonne didn't want to love Ezekiel, but he saved her life in more ways than one. The arc between them showed readers that love can overcome any amount of damage put before us, and there is always hope to be found in it.
None of Michonne's major story points will be present in the series, all because Andrea is no longer around.
Through this process, Carl also loses another mother. He and Michonne have a great relationship, that's for sure, but he won't get the time with her that he did with Andrea. Since he is already a young man on the show, he won't have someone to raise him through the tough years like Andrea did.
With all these changes, Rick's character will be significantly altered as well.
When he returns from Negan's line-up, Rick won't have a partner to return to. He won't have a rock at his side to keep him grounded after he loses a friend. He will have Michonne, but she was there as well, equally as broken.
In the books, Rick and Andrea have a catchphrase; "We don't die."
Throughout all of their loss, their pain, their constant fight against nature, neither one of them have ever gone anywhere. They have had each other to turn to, even when they didn't realize it. When Rick and Andrea got together for the first time, he wanted to run away. Since everyone who had ever been close to him had died, he didn't want the same fate for Andrea. Instead of backing away, Andrea pushed against him.
What Rick had forgotten was, Andrea lost everyone, too. Over the course of almost 100 issues, Andrea had gone through an entire life. She began as a girl, buried her sister, fell in love, adopted children, lost children, and watched the man she loved die right in front of her. What people on this Earth don't experience in a lifetime, Andrea went through in a couple of years.
With her battles against grief and loss, Andrea became the only person who could show Rick that there was another side. When he lost hope, Andrea reminded him that everyone's life has been that difficult, and there will always be a way to overcome it.
Rick and Andrea's love encompassed the entire theme of the series: Love gives hope to even the most dire of cirumstances. Sadly, fans of the show will never get to see this theme lived out.
None of this is to say that the show isn't great, they have done an exceptional job at recovering from the loss. Rick and Michonne's budding love will give us a grasp of what could have been, and the additions of Sasha and Tara have helped bridge a couple of the gaps.
The fact remains, though, that The Walking Dead will never be able to reach its full potential, with the deepest character in Robert Kirkman's arsenal in a body bag.
The show isn't the same without Andrea, and the decision to end her story will forever keep the comics three steps ahead. The Queen of Alexandria will never be, and The Walking Dead will never achieve the greatness it aspires to.
Following Fear the Walking Dead's Season 2 finale, join Brandon Davis for After the Dead, ComicBook.com's live recap show with Fear's executive producer Dave Erickson and a surprise cast member broadcast on The Walking Dead on ComicBook.com!