One of the most compelling aspects of The Walking Dead comic was watching Generic Good Guy Rick being slowly but completely ruined by a lawless world. He started off as a cliche small town sheriff, sure, but only because it was fun to explore exactly what it takes to break Andy Griffith's mind and make him eat the rest of Mayberry.
Absurdly Sharp Blade: Michonne's blade. Starts as an Aversion - it gets stuck in a skull once, when we first meet her - but then cuts through anything like a hot knife through butter. Rick's hatchet, on the other hand, is as sharp as the plot needs it to be at any given time.
She knows to take blade sharpeners when they raid weapons shops. Presumably, she keeps her sword in top condition.
Action Girl: Deconstructed in the case of Michonne. The Zombie Apocalypse has honed her into a stone-cold badass, but at the cost of most of her sanity and compassion. Instead of straight-up killing the Governor, she tortures him and leaves him alive, allowing him to mount an attack on the prison and kill the vast majority of the folks there. Following that, she leads Tyreese on a two-person counterattack that results in his beheading. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
Herschel's unseen son Shawn, who was mentioned as having died not long before the events of the comics, is present in the first episode of Telltale's adaption, and as a major character at that.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: The Governor thinks his superior numbers and a salvaged tank will give him a quick victory; instead his mooks get slaughtered as they can't get past the prison fences (which they want to preserve so they can use the prison once it's emptied) and their marksmanship isn't as good as those holding the prison (Rick has made a point of training everyone). The prison only gets overrun when the tank is finally used to knock down the fences, but this also lets the zombies in.
Ax-Crazy: Several people, both in the group and out.
Badass: Surviving in this comic is largely dependant on being one, so most of the cast become this over time. The most notable examples are probably Rick, Michonne, Andrea, Abraham and Tyreese.
Badass Boast: When Rick decides to go to Chris' group of cannibals:
Rick: They're fucking with the wrong people.
Big Bad: Due to zombies being treated more as a force of nature than a central threat, humans take up the reigns as one temporary Big Bad or another. Two have shown up so far.
"Governor" Philip Blake (a.k.a. Brian Blake) from Issue 27 to 48.
Negan, leader of the Saviors, from Issue 96 through the current issues.
The Big Guy: Shane, Tyreese, Abraham, and Jesus. Basically, Rick's current Lancer is usually the biggest dude in the current group.
Boom, Headshot: The only way to kill a Walker permanently is to destroy the brain, leading to many instances of this.
Break the Cutie: Any nice characters do not stay in good mental health for long.
Driven to Suicide: Several of said cases result in this. Carol, Hershel, Maggie. Only Carol has eventually gone through with it by herself.
Bring My Brown Pants: When the walls to the Alexandria Safe Zone break down in Volume 14 and the Andersons try to escape, Ron, the son who is about Carl's age, urinates down his leg. Hard to blame him, however.
Cosy Catastrophe: The devastation isn't as complete as one might expect and the ecosystem seems generally intact. Also, the zombies are mostly opportunists - they usually don't actively hunt the humans.
Covers Always Spoil: The first "Compendium" cover shows all the characters wearing prisoner uniforms, and Rick missing a hand.
Creepy Child: All children become this after growing up with everyone they know being murdered and eaten warps their moralities and sanities out of all recognition. Ben's the first to go irretrievably nuts.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The battle between the Washington community and the raiders; the raiders are all killed moronically attacking the fortified community.
Daylight Horror: Discussed in issue seven. Rick complains when it begins to get dark and cloudy. Glenn welcomes the clouds because he considered the previous bright, sunny weather to be "a contradiction" to the terror around them.
Did I Mention It's Christmas?: At one point Dale tells Rick he's been counting the calendar days and believes it's Christmas Eve. Rick instructs him not to mention it to the others: "I don't want to have to explain to my son that on top of all this other shit, Santa can't find him."
In issue 61, the group finds a van with mattresses in it, and Andrea comments on how it's like early Christmas time, then Carl asks nobody in particular if they skipped last Christmas... The question is ignored.
Early Installment Weirdness: It starts off as a fast-paced adventure about one man with a clear goal to get to his family and keep them safe until the zombie problem passes. After volume 2 it becomes a more long-term plan to establish a new society with the survivors they've found, becoming a soap opera of sorts and after volume 5 a small-scale war story on top of that. After volume 8 it becomes a far more dystopian story where there's genuine danger that people within the group are going to go nuts and kill each other.
Rick actually has little trouble with the first human characters he meets (Morgan and Duane), which almost seems rather strange considering the running themes of the work. The TV Show reworked the scene to have Morgan panicking when Duane hits Rick with a shovel, but because he's afraid Rick might have been bitten.
Even Evil Has Standards: Negan. When one of the people from Rick's town tries to convince Negan to kill him so he can become leader, Negan literally eviscerates him for being a traitor. Later, when one of his own men tries to rape a prisoner, Negan is adamant that his people don't rape and stabs him through the neck.
Hershel starts off with seven kids. By the time he dies, he's down to one. And as pointed out further below, two of the deaths are his fault.
After issue 48 things get so much worse that it might very well count as a Retool. All pretence to safety goes out the window, several beloved characters are gone forever, and those that remain start to go insane. It's like the author heard someone say the comic was dystopian and replied "You thought THAT was dystopian?"
Genre Savvy: On the other hand, they manage to be reasonably good survivalists.
Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Many examples, but a standout would be Michonne bashing Rick on the head with a rock when he nearly kills Douglas Monroe in a rage after attacking Pete Anderson.
Groin Attack: Reasonably common, and usually unreasonably horrible.
Heroic BSOD: In high number, given the massive psychological stress the characters are under.
He Who Fights Monsters: Issue 71 subtly paints the protagonists as this with a very creepy and disturbing final line spoken by Rick. Though this was hinted at as far back as the Prison story arc. The Fear the Hunters story arc really pushed the group into some serious dark territory as far as behavior... and sanity.
Hide Your Children: Averted. Several of the principal characters are minors. Also several of the background zombies.
His Story Repeats Itself: Gabriel tells Rick about how he kept a door to his original church closed when the dead came, keeping people locked out in fear. In Volume 14, Eugene yells for him to open the Alexandria Safe Zone church doors, and he does so, letting them in, then going out and helping in the fight against the hordes.
Hope Spot: The potential cure for the plague waiting in DC? Eugene made up that story just so he could have a group protecting him. He's not even a scientist, but rather a high school science teacher.
The inevitable Zombie Apocalypse "humans are the real threat" has been used a couple of times; the Governor does far more damage to the cast than the zombies have, Thomas decapitates two children, and then there's Abraham's back story.
The residents of Woodbury, by and large, realize that the Governor is a monster but are willing to tolerate him because he keeps them "safe", and entertained.
When Tyreese is first introduced, he tells Rick that a man he knew attempted to rape his daughter when his back was turned for a second.
Rick runs over the most sympathetic citizen of Woodbury to stop him from reporting their position back to the evil Woodburians. Martinez claims he was sent as a spy but is really going to bring the good civilians to the supposedly safe shelter of a county jail. Rick doesn't believe him and strangles him.
Another one from the "Fear the Hunters" arc; After the groups has been attacked by a group of cannibals, (who in their minds, were only doing what they had to do) Rick goes to parlay with them. When it becomes clear that the hunters aren't going to leave them alone, Rick reveals that he didn't come alone, and the others are all armed. They disarm the hunters, then hold them down over a picnic table and hack them apart one by one. Gunshots attract zombies, you see.
Carl taking it upon himself to execute Ben when no one else was willing to.
I Want Them Alive: After Michonne bites the Governor's ear off, one of his goons subdues her and offers to break her neck.
The Governor: No! Don't do a fucking thing to her! I don't want this girl to get a bruise that doesn't come from me. She'll suffer for what she's done—she'll wish she was dead.
Infant Immortality: Averted. All the child characters besides Carl and Sophia have died so far. However, only one child death is seen in Issue 83.
Interrupted Suicide: Maggie tries to hang herself after finding out about her father's death, but is saved by Glenn.
Karmic Death: The Governor is killed by his own soldier, Lilly, after making her kill a baby.
Katanas Are Just Better: Michonne. Somewhat inverted as she's shown to be skilled with them, but guns still win out.
There have been several instances when the guns could not be used because the sound would attract more zombies. In those cases, melee weapons like axes, clubs, and Michonne's ever-present sword prevail.
Kill 'em All: By the time the eighth arc was over, a large chunk of the cast had been killed off. Of the original group, the only ones left are Rick, Carl, Andrea, and Sophia.
Lantern Jaw of Justice: A few characters when drawn by Tony Moore. Rick had a pretty heroic jawline, while Shane sported a much beefier, Bruce Campbell-esque one. Rick's became a lot less pronounced when Charlie Adlard took over as artist, and, notably, Shane's has disappeared completely by the time he's dug up as a zombie and re-killed by Rick.
Loads and Loads of Characters: Its more of a revolving door of characters, usually a couple of characters dies or leaves, later the main group may discover some new survivors.
Made of Plasticine: Selectively used. The combat is generally realistic, but zombie skulls occasionally get penetrated WAY easier than they ought to...the human skull is one of the hardest biological substances on earth. Rick's hatchet? Yes, that could do the job. Tyreese's hammer? Sure. Thinning out the zombies by the fence by driving kitchen knives through their skulls? Doubtful, but not impossible. Driving a pitchfork through a zombie's forehead? Less probable. That said, it's used more as a hammering chisel mechanism, making it easier to get.
Mauve Shirt: It's hard to care for some of the characters when you know that they will inevitably pick up the Idiot Ball and get themselves eaten or shot somewhere down the line.
A definitely squicky one between the Governor and his zombified daughter/niece. This is pretty much one sided as he had to pull out her teeth in order to kiss her.
The Mole: Martinez, at least until he tries to return to Woodbury and Rick kills him.
Moral Dissonance: It's never explained why exactly Rick felt the need to do the most disgusting things he could think of to the cannibals before killing them.
Rick and everyone else in the entire world has mental issues by this point and there are no official authorities. Sometimes they get impulses to do bad things so they do them. Same explanation for the rapists and the Governor's idea of entertainment.
My God, What Have I Done?: Rick verbatim when he attacks Pete Anderson and pulls a gun on Douglas Monroe before figuring out how far over the line he has gone.
Rick seeing the ALL DEAD INSIDE sign outside the 'safe' gated community.
After months of quiet the inhabitants of the prison look up to see the Governor advancing towards them on a Bradley IFV screaming for his soldiers to Kill 'em All.
Driving over a hill straight into a 'herd' of hundreds of zombies.
Finding that 'herd' of hundreds of zombies just outside the walls of the community.
One Steve Limit: Averted, due to Kirkman finding it unrealistic that various random groups of people wouldn't feature anyone with the same names.
Our Zombies Are Different: The zombies are intentionally identical to the George Romero style, with the one difference being that they simply rot over time, as opposed to gaining more and more intelligence.
Papa Wolf: Rick goes absolutely berserk on a pair of bandits when one of them tries to rape Carl. He tears one's throat out with his teeth, then chases down the last of the three and brutally stabs him to death while he begs for mercy.
Punch Clock Villain: The Woodbury citizens are either this or My Country, Right or Wrong at the raid on the prison, they are visibly disturbed with the attack at the prison and Lily eventually turns against the Governor when it all goes too far.
Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Negan has no qualms about beating people's heads in with a baseball bat but refuses to let one of his men rape his prisoner.
Reality Ensues: As it turns out, dragging a violent and mentally unstable person around with you and allowing him to walk about freely is not a good idea. Patricia learns this the hard way when she takes a little too much pity on the extremely dangerous Thomas.
Zombies rot over time rather than just walking around forever. It would seem that shambling corpses that are barely sentient and just mindlessly wonder through the wilderness trying to eat people don't stay in good condition for long.
Retirony: Averted so far, but they love to set the table for this every time Glenn kisses his family goodbye for one last supply run (including an extended period of covers that showed him in near death situations that did not appear in the books).
Surprisingly, when Glenn does die, he's with his family.
Retool: While the story had changed direction many times before, the "A Larger World" and "Something to Fear" storylines really turn the whole concept of the series on its head, introducing a massive and totalitarian pyramid of human society and placing the protagonists squarely at the bottom.
Tempting Fate: The characters are all surprised about how smooth their escape from Woodbury is going and comment on it. After they get over the wall, Dr. Stevens exclaims how relieved he is that things are going so well, only to be bitten by a zombie a few seconds later.
In the first issue, one of the characters tells another, "Oh, bite me." Guess what happens a few pages later?
Time Skip: Between Issue 126 and Issue 127, there is a two year time skip.
Title Drop: By Rick following his recovery from his fight with Tyreese.
Rick: "WE ARE THE WALKING DEAD!"
This Is Gonna Suck: Their reaction when The Governor arrives with a small army at the prison.
Token Shipping: An interestingly realistic case, where Michonne seems to primarily attracted to black men.
Took a Level in Badass: Pretty much required by the circumstances - either you become a badass or you're a liability. Eugene is a notable case, going from a portly wimp lying about being a scientist for protection to being spurred to action against the Saviors after Abraham gets killed.
To the Pain: What Michonne does to the Governor, who captured, imprisoned and viciously tortured and raped her. Provides the page image.
At the beginning of the second volume, when the group finds a fenced off housing development, they don't see any zombies in the streets, and immediately decide it's their new home. While they do check a few of the houses before going to bed, no one sees the obvious method of just driving the RV into the street and laying on the horn to see if any guests show up for dinner. The fact that only one of them gets killed that evening is a freaking miracle.
Patricia deciding to help Thomas escape, believing that he was Not Evil, Just Misunderstood, even though he decapitated two little girls. As a result, the survivors hate her.
Hershel keeping a barn full of walkers on his property. Even if he thought they were just sick, they still were homicidal.
Underestimating Badassery: The cannibals make this mistake when they follow their usual tactic of scaring their victims before they attack them. Unfortunately these victims include a Handicapped Badass, a katana-wielding schizophrenic, and a crack markswoman.
The bandits who tried to intimidate their way into the Washington DC gated community really didn't consider the possibility that the residents were far better armed and skilled than they were.
Unspecified Apocalypse: A smaller example. We know that the dead walking again caused the end, but why it started happening is never really discussed. Word of God has even said that he has no plans to explore the reasons either.
Villain Decay: Happens very sudden between episode 80 and 90. The Undead themselves make a sudden turn to "manageable threat", in Rick's words. Turns out all you really need to beat a herd of them is about twenty people with melee weapons and some self-confidence.
Villain Protagonist: Rick is acutely aware that he's becoming this, and doesn't like it one bit.
Vomit Indiscretion Shot: A few in the first volume. You'd lose your lunch too if faced down with a shambling pile of rotting flesh and muscle.
Weapon of Choice: Rick's hatchet, Tyreese's hammer, Andrea's hunting rifle and Michonne's katana.
We Just Need to Wait for Rescue: Shane insists on the group staying next to Atlanta so the military will be able to easily find them, even as winter begins to set in and food becomes scarce. This contributes to his Sanity Slippage as the others begin blaming him for keeping them there instead of trying to find a safer location.
Otis likewise expects the military to be able to protect people, and was planning on leaving for Atlanta before learning how bad things were there.
Issue 48 may just be the whammiest episode of anything ever, essentially cutting almost all of the evolving plotlines dead in their tracks, and putting all of the rest on long-term hiatus, and killing off several major characters that the audience had come to take for granted would be the core cast in the long run.
Issue 100, and its killing of Glenn.
What Happened To Mommy: Hershel, when we first meet him. Harboring his zombie son eventually results in the deaths of two more of his kids. And then...
What Year Is This?: None of the protagonists know what the exact date is after a year of events. The date is never mentioned by the residents of Woodbury, Christmas is approximated, and even the residents of the Alexandria Safe Zone have lost precise track of the date fourteen months after Z-Day. Digital watches did not survive the apocalypse.