Over the course of its soon to be 7 seasons, AMC's The Walking Dead has played host to many memorable characters; some still living and many now among the dead. From crossbow-wielding badass Daryl, to power-hungry leader The Governor, to troubled pacifist Morgan, there has never been a shortage of interesting, complex people for fans to get to know and either love or hate. Soon to join TWD's ever-growing ranks is Ezekiel, leader of a group known as The Kingdom.
A zookeeper prior to the walker apocalypse, Ezekiel and company joined up with Rick's band of survivors in the comics in order to take down psychotic villain Negan and his marauding horde The Saviors. While The Walking Dead TV series often deviates in ways from the source material, all preview material for season 7 suggests that Rick and Ezekiel will form a similar anti-Negan alliance on the small-screen. Sadly, it obviously won't happen soon enough for the victim Negan claimed as part of season 6's finale cliffhanger.
One of Ezekiel's most interesting aspects is his ownership of a pet tiger named Shiva. In print, Ezekiel formed a bond with Shiva - who was born in captivity at the zoo Ezekiel worked at - after deciding not to report her getting violent with him and cutting his stomach. This happened while Ezkeiel was tending to a bad leg wound Shiva had suffered, and realizing why she had behaved the way she had, Ezekiel forgave her. Following this, the two formed a close bond that carried over into the walker outbreak, Shiva becoming Ezkiel's faithful protector and pet. AMC has released a brand new teaser image featuring Shiva in all her majestic yet deadly glory. Check it out below.
At this point, it's impossible to know if all the details of Ezekiel's backstory with Shiva will be kept in their journey from page to screen, but one assumes it'll likely be at least mostly similar. After all, living at a zoo is the only logical explanation for an animal like Shiva to be in the USA in the first place. Ezekiel's past as a zookeeper will also likely be retained, as he would need to have spent time with Shiva prior to the apocalypse in order for their close relationship to be formed.
One aspect of Ezekiel that seems highly unlikely to translate to TV is his romantic relationship with Michonne. In the comic, Ezekiel and Michonne lived together in a house in Alexandria, with Shiva also taking up residence in their bathroom. With Rick and Michonne currently together romantically, it would take a surprising turn of events indeed to justify the end of that relationship and quick turnaround into another for Michonne.
It'll also be interesting to see if Shiva survives for a longer period on the show than she did in the book. In print, Shiva only made it 10 issues before her death. Kirkman may very well decide that she deserves a longer life on the show, as he's previously done with other characters who didn't last too long in his book.
The Walking Dead season 7 premieres Sunday, October 23 at 9pm on AMC.