Abraham Ford, a fan-favorite right-hand man to Rick Grimes and his group of survivors in The Walking Dead, was originally a much more sinister figure.

Former sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes has had many trustworthy partners throughout his prolific run in Image Comics’ The Walking Dead comic series, but one of the earliest remains Sgt. Abraham Ford. A hulking figure skilled in several forms of combat, Abraham is an incredibly tragic character with an edge that makes the army veteran a potential danger to those around him. In fact, the character’s anger was originally intended to lead him into outright villainy.


In the aftermath of their battle with the Governor, Rick and his remaining group of survivors are in desperate need of additional manpower in their continued efforts to survive in a world ruled by the undead. The survivor’s prayers are answered with the introduction of Abraham alongside his two faithful companions, Rosita Espinosa and Eugene Porter. Abraham immediately proves his worth to Rick’s group, with his military expertise, combat training, marksmanship, and an intense set of leadership qualities. It does not take long for alpha males Rick and Abraham to butt heads over the direction of the group. Abraham is initially tempted to kill Rick, and even gets a chance to leave Grimes to die, but instead the two bury the hatchet, developing a close alliance that only ends upon Abraham’s tragic death.

Related: The Walking Dead: Negan’s Original Role Was Very Different

Abraham Was Going to Turn on Rick

the walking dead abraham vs rick

Abraham had quite a tenure as a member of Rick’s group, but his original ambitions to become a thorn in the side of Rick were initially intended to grow. In issue 56, Abraham saves Rick from a zombie, but then reveals to Rosita that he was already aiming at his ally, considering revenge for Rick holding him at gunpoint earlier. Ultimately, however, the moment shocks Abraham into reevaluating his anger, and he pulls himself back from the brink. What nearly transpired as a result of Abraham’s villainous turn is revealed in Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Dave McCaig’s The Walking Dead Deluxe #56, which serves as the latest issue of the full-color series reprint. Kirkman’s initial plan was to position Abraham as a direct villain in opposition to Rick, growing more and more frustrated. However, the plan was ultimately reworked. Kirkman describes the decision in further detail:

I just loved Abraham as a character. He’s clearly taking a heel turn this issue, but then that cliffhanger brings it all around. He’s a potential villain who maybe, doesn’t want to be. … I was genuinely considering making Abraham a bad guy for a lot of it. It could have gone either way. It wasn’t until I finally got to the end of plotting the issue that I decided to pull things the other way a bit.

Walking Dead Gave Abraham a Better Path

walking dead abraham crying

Abraham embracing his better self unprompted by anyone else is one of the realistic, grounded moments of humanity that made The Walking Dead so successful. Rather than a major event or close call, Abraham is scared straight by his own rage, and his earlier behavior is recontextualized as someone struggling with a world they no longer recognize. Rick faced plenty of villains driven by misguided machismo, but Abraham didn’t end up being one of them, even though Kirkman originally considered this path, giving Rick another enemy within his own group in the same mold as Shane.

Abraham is a character who poses a major physical threat to Rick and – given Grimes’ role in reshaping the post-zombie world – could even have changed the fate of humanity by turning on the group’s leader. Instead, Kirkman pursued a more complex path – one less driven by narrative convenience, and more by grounded, compelling characterization. While Abraham didn’t survive to see humanity overcome the undead scourge, he’s remembered as a key player in keeping Rick’s group alive, not as a misguided hothead who stood in their way.

Next: The Walking Dead Original Comics Can Return As Soon As Robert Kirkman Agrees

The Walking Dead Deluxe #56 is available now from Image Comics!

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