[This post contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 7 premiere.]
The Walking Dead shocked and repulsed audiences with its season 7 premiere, as two major characters met their end at the hands of the villainous Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). The loss of both Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) was momentous enough for the future of the series, but director Greg Nicotero prompted polarizing reactions to the gruesome, unflinching way their deaths were depicted.
Glenn’s death was somewhat expected, as the beloved character also died in the infamous 100th issue of the original graphic novels and was killed in a fashion that remained faithful to the source material. Abraham, however, stayed alive on the TV show for longer than he did in the comics. Cudlitz, who portrayed Abraham for 38 episodes of The Walking Dead, spoke about his character’s “borrowed time” on the latest episode of AMC’s post-show recap, Talking Dead.
Via CBR, Cudlitz explained that author Robert Kirkman was not satisfied with how he handled Abraham’s death in the graphic novels and that his TV death was portrayed in a nobler fashion.
“Look, for anyone who follows the graphic novel, he’s on borrowed time. … Denise took his death graciously two episodes prior … so I think at that point I had gone beyond where he was in the graphic novel. I know [Kirkman] always said he was not happy with how he took Abraham out in the graphic novel, so I was curious to see where we go from there. And yeah, I think in the group, he made it very clear to Negan that if he was going to take somebody, take me if it’s going to help protect the rest of the group.”
Abraham met his end in the graphic novels just two issues prior to Glenn, in issue No. 98. Negan’s Saviors disciple Dwight, played by Austin Amelio in the TV series, shoots Abraham through the eye with an arrow in the source material. On the show, Denise (Merritt Wever) instead met that same fate.
Delaying Abraham’s graphic novel death until later in the TV series allowed him to be fleshed out more as a character and develop his influence on those around him. Eugene (Josh McDermitt), in particular, who grew hardened and more courageous thanks to Abraham’s help. Sasha also helped Abraham overcome his own recklessness in order to help the team better.
Abraham’s deeper development in the past season-and-change only made his death at the hands of Negan’s barbed-wire bat more profoundly disturbing. The sight of Abraham as a mangled pile of blood and brain matter certainly took many fans aback. It even prompted a strong reaction from the Parents Television Council. But as Cudlitz himself explained, Abraham’s “borrowed time” allowed the character to be further developed on The Walking Dead TV show than in the graphic novels and made his departure that much more significant.
The Walking Dead continues next Sunday with ‘The Well’ @9pm on AMC.
Source: Talking Dead [via CBR.com]