WARNING: Spoilers for the Season 7 finale of The Walking Dead inside!
After six seasons of The Group traversing the oddly barren woodlands of the American Southeast (save for the occasional horse and turtle), The Walking Dead finally remembered that animals exist. But why would AMC settle for giving someone a guard dog that would just ultimately die a horrible death to save its master or a house cat that would bring home small game to keep everyone from starving when they could do something truly bonkers? Something like a tame tiger belonging to the local king?
Shiva and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) may have a bond that under non-zombie circumstances would be a viral video on Facebook, but the tigress is still a wild animal and an apex predator. But if audiences can suspend disbelief that the dead return with a hunger for human flesh, they can turn a blind eye to the fact that Shiva would have at least mauled a hapless denizen of The Kingdom at some point. But come on, there’s no reason to have a tiger hanging around if she isn’t going to eat someone’s face. Shiva is the Chekov’s Gun of the animal kingdom.
After patiently waiting all season, Shiva finally got her moment to shine in “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life.” The tiger lunged from offscreen to save Carl (Chandler Riggs) in the nick of time from Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) bat. Sadly, she didn’t manage to maul Negan and thus end his reign of terror both on the inhabitants of The Walking Dead and the audience, but she took care of several Saviors. But how did she know who was a friend and who was a foe? Actor Khary Payton took to Twitter with a tongue-in-cheek answer.
Expect fan art of that to appear online at any moment, because occasionally the internet is a magical place. As for how Shiva really knew who to attack? My guess would be the people with guns shooting at her and her people took priority.