In the words of Negan himself: "ho-ly crap!" The Walking Dead may have just given us their best finale yet, keeping viewers on the very edge of their seats and setting the scene for one hell of an eighth eason.
It's only fitting that an episode packed with so much drama, action and hororr-ific gore would be dedicated to the one and only Bernie Wrightson. In fact, this wasn't even the first dedication to Wrightson we've seen on the show.
But who is Bernie Wrightson, and what is his connection to The Walking Dead? Let's take a look:
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Paying Tribute To An Industry Legend
This is actually the second memorial dedication shown during #TheWalkingDead Season 7 credits. The first one was a tribute to James Heltibridle, a member of the show's props crew who was tragically killed in a car accident late last year.
Bernie "Berni" Wrightson was a multi-award winning artist and veritable legend in the world of both horror and comics. Throughout his career, he worked for both #DC Comics and #Marvel Comics; helped create the terrifying Reavers in the Firefly film sequel Serenity; and was even responsible for illustrating Stephen King's Creepshow comic book adaptation— another horror classic that was referenced not once but twice on The Walking Dead.
Wrightson passed away on March 18 this year after a lengthy battle with brain cancer. He had announced his retirement from the industry just two months prior. His legacy was honored by the likes of Joss Whedon, Neil Gaiman and of course, The Walking Dead producer Greg Nicotero:
Did You Spot Wrightson During Season 6?
This wasn't the first nod to Wrightson we've seen on The Walking Dead. He may have had one impressive resumé, but Wrightson was perhaps most well known for co-creating Swamp Thing, a DC Universe character that would be best described as an environmentalist mutant.
Like many horror buffs, Greg Nicotero is a huge Wrightson fanboy. And in typical Nicotero style, he paid tribute to his hero and good friend with his very own Swamp Thing walker, aptly named "Wrightson", back in Season 6:
Daryl encountered the Swamp Thing walker during Season 6 Episode 6, 'Always Accountable'. The mossy walker was not only a nod to Bernie Wrightson, but a callback to the beginning of Daryl and Carol's friendship in Season 2.
The Dwight-Wrightson Connection
The Walking Dead's finale tribute to Wrightson is incredibly touching, but it also ties in with Dwight's storyline for both this episode and Season 8.
As well as the "Wrightson" walker, 'Always Accountable' was also Dwight's first appearance. Daryl encountered Sherry and her sister Tina in the forest shortly before being taken hostage by Dwight. Having escaped from the Sanctuary, the trio were on the run from the Saviors.
After Tina's death, Dwight and Sherry are invited to join Daryl at Alexandria. Still unsure if he can be trusted, Dwight turns on Daryl yet again, taking his bike and crossbow and riding off into the sunset.
Why is this relevant? Well, there's a definite parallel between where Dwight was when we first met him and where he's at now. He's disillusioned with Negan and the Saviors, and desperately wants out— no matter what it takes. And while things are still tense with him and Daryl, there's some semblance of potential trust building between the two. For Dwight, this is his attempt to make up for what happened between them in 'Always Accountable'— which means we may see him move in to Alexandria yet.
What did you think of The Walking Dead's Bernie Wrightson tribute?