In some respects, Eugene Porter has come a long way during his time on AMC’s The Walking Dead. He began as a frightened survivor who lied to his friends for protection. But in the last couple of seasons, he’s fought hard and learned how to fight back. Now that he’s become part of Negan’s group of bloodthirsty Saviors, though, it’s hard to imagine what’s next for Eugene. Sure, he could team up with Negan for good — but that would be a big blow for fans of the character, especially after what Negan did to Eugene’s best friend, Abraham.
After viewing “Hostiles and Calamities” and watching Eugene’s apparent turn to the dark side, the character’s path has diverged heavily from its trajectory in Robert Kirkman’s comics. That’s not uncommon — we’ve seen plenty of differences between the two storylines over the years. But if Eugene does, in fact, stay by Negan’s side, his character arc will end up looking significantly different on TV, and that could ultimately change how the overall Walking Dead story progresses.
Eugene Porter’s introduction into the fray in The Walking Dead comic series was largely similar to how we met him on the TV series. He first showed up in Issue 53, when he arrived on the scene with Abraham Ford and Rosita Espinosa. He appeared to be intelligent, if a bit eccentric, and was clearly relying on the other two for safety.
Rick learned, after encountering them on the road, that they were on their way to D.C. because Eugene had convinced them he was a powerful government scientist with knowledge about how the zombie outbreak had happened.
Intelligent and manipulative
Of course, like in the TV series, Eugene was lying about being a government scientist. We learned over the course of the next few issues that he wasn’t one of the few remaining survivors with intel into “the plague,” but a high school science teacher with a potent imagination and some unconventional survival skills. Eugene is exceedingly bright — so much so that he understood that in order to survive, he would have to find protection by manipulating those who were stronger and more able-bodied.
While the TV series featured Eugene telling his fellow survivors that he knew how to stop the zombie apocalypse, his claims in the comics weren’t quite as ambitious. In the comics, Eugene told Abraham and Rosita that he had friends in Washington D.C. who had the resources to keep them safe from harm. In the uncertain landscape they all faced, that was a good enough reason for them to keep him safe as they made their way to the nation’s capitol.
A lie exposed
In Issue 67, though, Eugene’s lies begin to unravel when Rick realizes the radio he’d been using to “communicate” with D.C. doesn’t even have a battery. Backed into a corner, Eugene finally confessed that he made the whole story up.
After realizing that he’d alienated Abraham, who was furious when he realized he’d been duped, Eugene decided he had to toughen up if he was going to survive. But he never stopped using his intellect to help him get along.
Eugene’s new purpose
Once Rick’s group made its way to the Alexandria Safe-Zone, Eugene found a place for himself under Douglas Monroe’s guidance. The Alexandria leader made Eugene into a community planner. Despite having this role, he initially chose to isolate himself from the rest of the group and rarely interacted with his fellow survivors. Eventually, he came back into the fold, and joined forces with Rick to fight back against the zombie horde that breached the Safe-Zone wall.
After that, and again like in the TV series, Eugene turned his attention to helping the Alexandria Safe-Zone create a long-term survival strategy. He was essential in the creation of trenches surrounding their walls, and used his time on supply runs to gather the materials he’d need to start manufacturing ammunition.
Eugene vs. Negan
While most of this likely sounds familiar to TWD fans, Eugene’s story has had some marked differences in its translation from page to screen.
In the comics, Eugene was taken hostage following Abraham’s death, who died from an arrow through the eye, courtesy of Dwight in Issue 98. He was rescued by Rick and Andrea after he took a bite out of his captor’s crotch, but was captured again by the Saviors and taken to the Sanctuary. At that point, Negan was going to war with Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom, and he demanded that Eugene start to create bullets for his team.
Eugene refused to bend to Negan, even when he was threatened with castration and death. He remained completely loyal to Rick, and managed to escape and make his way back to his friends. He was even instrumental in saving some of his friends when he diverted a horde’s attention by triggering a car horn. This discovery led to the creation of a regular herd patrol, which Eugene helped devise and oversee with Rick.
A tragic romance
All in all, Eugene has played a much more direct leadership role in Alexandria in the comics. He also had a much more intimate relationship with Rosita. After she broke up with Abraham, the two bonded. While she initially resisted a relationship with Eugene, they grew much closer after the war.
Eventually, they married — and even after she revealed that she was pregnant with another man’s child, Eugene remained devoted to her. He never had a chance to help Rosita raise her child, though — she was killed by the Whisperers before she gave birth.
Eugene was understandably devastated by the loss, and poured all of his energy into helping create bullets so Alexandria could defend itself against their new enemies. We haven’t seen the end of Eugene’s story yet in The Walking Dead comics, but we do know that he’ll stop at nothing to defend the life that he and his friends have built. Whether that will be the case on the TV series remains to be seen, but we can only hope he gets a chance to be as heroic on TV as he has been in the comics.
Follow Katherine Webb on Twitter @prufrox.
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