The All Out War story has finally concluded on The Walking Dead TV series, both following and deviating from Robert Kirkman's comic book source material in the final moments.
Spoilers for The Walking Dead Episode 8x16, Wrath, follow!
The final episode of The Walking Dead Season Eight saw Rick and Negan come face to face on a battlefield, as the leaders of conflicting communities duked it out to settle their differences, once and for all. A very similar moment came in issue #126 of The Walking Dead comics, where Negan ordered his men to to stay back and allow him to go one on one with Rick Grimes.
In the TV show, Rick ended up getting the best of Negan, holding a knife to his throat and cutting it just enough to debilitate the villain but also offer him a chance at survival. He elected not to kill the man responsible for the deaths of Glenn, Abraham, Olivia, Spencer, and so many others in an effort to prove not only that he can rebuild civilization better than Negan can but also to fulfill Carl's vision of the future.
In the comics, Rick also spared Negan. Just as he did on the TV series, Rick cut Negan's throat with a knife but didn't kill him. However, Rick suffered a serious injury himself. During their fight, Negan broke Rick's leg. In the issues which came after #126, Rick is seen walking with a cane in a post-All Out War world prompted by a massive time jump. Andrew Lincoln's version of the character, however, won't necessarily be in such need of a cane as his comic book counterpart.
Furthermore, the decision to keep Negan alive was not fueled by Carl as it was on the TV series. Carl is still very much alive in the comic book series, so Rick's choice was made more independently as he wished to establish a civilization built on differentiating "right" from "wrong" and classifying murder into the "wrong" category, even if someone was a horrific villain. The move rattled characters like Maggie, just as it did in the AMC series.
Going forward, the AMC show looks to be following its comic book source material, at least to some extent -- especially if Negan actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan's beard is any indication. In fact, in the years of issues which have come since issue #126, Rick and Negan have become quite friendly. Both characters have literally saved the other's life but it hasn't been enough to keep the former villain from being banished from Alexandria to fend for himself out in the wilderness.
The Walking Dead will return for its ninth season in the fall. Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET on AMC. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.