Stolen brazenly: The most terrifying zombie in “The Walking Dead” history actually originates from “The Last of Us” Indeed, the walkers from The Walking Dead never shared many similarities with the creatures from The Last of Us, neither in appearance nor in character – until this moment.

Undoubtedly, titles within the zombie genre inherently share certain similarities. It’s understandable that after over 90 years of undead presence on cinema and TV screens, there might not be too many fresh and innovative ideas left. However, in one significant aspect, “The Walking Dead: Dead City” has unmistakably drawn inspiration from the video game “The Last of Us: Part II” – and this has led to division among fans.

– Warning: Minor spoilers for “The Walking Dead: Dead City” and “The Last of Us: Part II” follow –

In case you haven’t played “The Last of Us: Part II” yet.

First with “Daryl Dixon,” now with “Dead City”: Details evoke “The Last of Us” The plot of “The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon” already exhibits clear parallels to the narrative of “The Last of Us”: Similar to Joel (Pedro Pascal), Daryl (Norman Reedus) is entrusted with the mission of safely escorting a child to a specific location, as the young boy Laurent (Louis Puech Scigliuzzi) – akin to Ellie (Bella Ramsey) – could hold the key to a cure. However, let’s be candid: such a storyline is standard within the zombie genre, and Daryl and Laurent will likely encounter vastly different dangers on their journey than Joel and Ellie did.

On the other hand, introducing a creature of entirely novel proportions is anything but predictable. This is precisely what happened in the video game “The Last of Us: Part II,” which is set to make its way into the series as “The Last of Us” season 2. The game features a monster known as the “Rat King.” The main character, Abby, encounters this creature in the basement of a hospital. The moniker is derived from the fact that several stalkers, clickers, and bloaters are fused together – akin to how rat tails can become intertwined.

Replacing the Rat King with the Biter King: Maggie actress explains the concept A strikingly similar creature is now making its way into the realm of “The Walking Dead.” In the spin-off “The Walking Dead: Dead City,” Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) traverse Manhattan to rescue Hershel (Logan Kim) from the clutches of a dangerous serial killer (Željko Ivanek). During their journey, Maggie must navigate the sewers, where she encounters something she has never seen before: a so-called “Walker King,” as explained by Lauren Cohan to Entertainment Weekly:

“It’s the ‘Walker King’ because it’s based on the idea of how rats tangle their tails and become a rat king. So we have this monster, the Walker King, and we had three people playing him.”

Consequently, the Walker King comprises three walkers fused together, all fixated on Maggie. Fortunately for her, the Walker King is far easier to dispatch with a few stabs compared to the Rat King from “The Last of Us: Part II,” whose demise requires several explosive devices, a flamethrower, and numerous shots. The reason for this lies in the fact that while the sewer zombie from “Dead City” follows the typical path of decay for zombies, the Rat King gains strength over the years as its fungal armor continues to evolve and assimilate new creatures.

“Cheap copy” or “Homage”? The Walker King divides fans Despite these notable distinctions, the visual (and nomenclature) resemblance cannot be ignored. Fans of both series also see it this way, with some describing it as a “cheap copy” (via YouTube comment) and “blatant plagiarism” (via Reddit comment). “They definitely stole it, I’m laughing my ass off,” reads a comment on Reddit. However, others view it as a homage to the game, like the Planet Shlorpian YouTube channel:

“Just because he’s reminiscent of The Rat King from ‘The Last of Us’ doesn’t mean the showrunner was trying to offend anyone. It’s a nod, a homage, or an Easter egg. Honestly, I just love that we’re getting to see this creature this year and then when Season 2 of ‘The Last of Us’ airs, another Rat King around 2025.”

On Reddit, tsktsk579 also had words of praise for the Walker King:

“My first thought was, ‘They just copied ‘TLoU’!’ But then I realized that pretty much every zombie art is a copy of the thousands of other zombie arts out there. […] If you come up with a concept and others try to imitate it in their own way, it’s not an insult. It’s proof of your genius. [The step] isn’t far-fetched in the zombie genre when you imagine what might happen once you dump a pile of rotting corpses into a damp environment that also happen to be alive. […] The fact that ‘TWD’ uses the word ‘king’ in the name is pretty lame though. That was a bit short-sighted.”

Now, if you wish to observe the likeness firsthand, you can view the actual Rat King from the game in this video. The counterpart from “The Walking Dead” universe is available in this clip. Alternatively, you can naturally wait until “The Walking Dead: Dead City” premieres in this country on MagentaTV.

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