Image Source: AMC
As bad as the survival rate is for humans in The Walking Dead, the animals of the show have had it even worse. First, there's Rick's trusty steed, who bites it (pun intended) pretty early on — and who is the first of many horses to fall on the series. Then there's Carl's deer, who takes the brunt of the bullet that hits him. Those chickens and piglets are straight-up rendered zombie food, and let's not forget about poor Tabitha the goat and roadkill turtle.
But Shiva, for all her might and glory, seems to have been built to survive. As King Ezekiel's right hand, her (tooth) size, intelligence, and ability to sniff out the good guys from the bad have come in quite in handy for the Kingdom. Unfortunately, it's her intense loyalty to Ezekiel that costs her life. She protects him to the very end and pays the ultimate price to see the former zookeeper survive the fallout of their defeat by the Saviors. Gulp.
For readers of The Walking Dead comics, it's a familiar moment indeed when the rare tiger makes her last stand because, yes, she suffers a similar fate on paper as on screen. Let's take a look back at how Shiva's last stand plays out in Robert Kirkman's version.
In Issue #118, she has survived where so many have not after the Kingdom's thwarted attempt to secure a Savior outpost renders many of Ezekiel's followers dead . . . and they are swarmed by reanimated corpses. Although Ezekiel is initially able to slink away from the crowd of walkers, there are simply too many to escape from. So, rather than running away herself and letting Ezekiel fend for himself, Shiva runs right into the fray and fights them, allowing her own body to sate their ravenous hunger so that her king can flee the scene.
Image Source: Image Comics
Naturally, Ezekiel is devastated by the loss of his foot soldiers, too, but the death of Shiva hits him the hardest. In a eulogy, he later recounts, "I wish she'd not come after me. There were so many. We were surrounded — but I was able to get away. I turned to call her to me . . . so we could leave . . . get away before she was swarmed. She knew there were too many; she knew I'd never get away otherwise."
He even laments his own survival in lieu of hers, saying, "I wish I'd died in that field. Coming back here . . . After losing so many men, I feel embarrassed . . . ashamed. Things would have been so much better if I had died . . . My people would see my death as a heroic sacrifice . . . They'd never have to see me . . . like this . . . But most of all, I wouldn't have lost Shiva."
Shiva's life on the show hasn't always been by the book — for instance, we haven't heard of her going number two in Michonne's bathtub. But for this tragic moment, The Walking Dead stuck to the source material — with the added benefit of her saving Carol and Jerry, of course — and while the visual effects team might be breathing a sigh of relief right about now, everyone else is probably sobbing.