WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for this week's episode of The Walking Dead, "Some Guy," which premiered Sunday on AMC.
This week the post-apocalyptic world lost a beautiful soul, as Shiva the tiger sacrificed herself on The Walking Dead to protect Ezekial from certain death at the hands of walkers hopped up on toxic waste. As he was about to be swarmed, Shiva intervened in her customary tigress ex machina fashion and protected him from the onslaught as she had done so many times before. Unfortunately, this time the walkers proved too many, and Shiva was ruthlessly torn apart as Ezekiel, Jerry and Carol watched.
All joking aside, it was pretty heartbreaking, if only because it was the culmination of Ezekiel's Shakespearean illusions crashing down around him. The man literally woke up beneath a pile of his own people, cut down by the devastating guns Rick and Daryl had no time to warn them about.
So, in celebration of her life, here are some of Shiva's greatest hits from the past one and a quarter seasons.
That Time She Met Carol
Anyone who can make Carol genuinely giggle at this point is A-plus in our books. When Morgan brought Carol to the Kingdom and introduced her to Ezekiel, she and the audience were treated to the most theatrical display the post-apocalypse had ever seen.
Somehow, in the middle of humanity's desperate and furious struggle to survive, a group of people had managed to find some damn whimsy. An obedient tiger on a chain went a long way toward making the Kingdom the closest thing to a Disney fairy tale one could hope for on The Walking Dead, and watching outsiders' reactions to meeting the incongruous animal never, ever got old.
That Time She Just Wanted to Make Friends
Because he has a massive heart of gold, Ezekiel uses his king persona to justify having a "royal garden" that's actually tribute for the Saviors (all part of the illusion that's helped the Kingdom run smoothly under Ezekiel's reign). Unfortunately, it becomes infested by weevils, and Shiva's right by Ezekiel's side when he recieves the bad news from Nabila, one of his subjects. Despite rockin' a serious Earth Mother vibe, Nabila is very, very nervous around Shiva. She refuses to step any close to Ezekiel than she has to, even while Shiva is being seriously adorable in the background.
Hey, even The Walking Dead gets moments of levity every once in a while, and this one was nice.
That Time She Chilled With Daryl
One of Daryl's loneliest moments had to have been after fleeing the Saviors and finding Carol, only to be unable to bring himself to tell her everything he and the rest of their family had been through at the hands of Negan. Carol had finally found a measure of peace, and despite his own trauma, Daryl couldn't take that away from her.
Daryl has always been a bit of a caged animal himself, be it physical or mental, so it was no surprise to see him drawn to Shiva after his meeting with Carol. There was something very appropriate about these two getting along the way they did, and it was effective to see two fierce creatures in a moment of respite with each other.
That Time She Ate a Bunch of Saviors
This was about as cheesy as cheesy gets, but if Carl Grimes had to be saved at the last second, and there's a tiger at the ready ... just use the goddamn tiger. You don't put a CGI tiger on television just to have her lounge around and be adorable all the time. At some point, she needs to earn her keep, and, boy, did she ever. After an entire season of watching Negan pee all over Team Rick, seeing him thrown off his game by Zombie Sasha and a gen-u-ine (CGI) Bengal tiger was so, so satisfying.
Shiva might be a symbol to many of how far removed The Walking Dead has become from its early roots, but, at the end of the day, she's still another survivor just like the rest of them.* A survivor, we might add, who sacrificed herself to save her friends. RIP, girl. You will be missed.
(*That said, if someone could explain to us how she knew exactly which humans to eat in the melée that followed, we'll be all set.)
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC, The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler, Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter, Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan.