While The Walking Dead is known for its zombies, the real threat to its heroes has always been humans – and on some tragic occasions, each other. One of the most fan-favorite human squabbles occurred at the Meriwether County Correctional Facility, wherein group leaders Rick Grimes and Tyreese Williams found themselves in a personal brawl. It was a fight that saw two fan-favorite characters turn on each other, but one with an ending that only made them more beloved – an ending that gained inspiration from a childhood moment of Walking Dead‘s creator Robert Kirkman.
2005’s The Walking Dead #23 from Kirkman, artist Charlie Adlard, and inker Cliff Rathburn finds Rick and Tyreese in their first physical altercation. Leading to the violent confrontation, a significant amount of tension between Rick and Tyreese had been building for quite some time. The brutal fight sends fists flying and bones crunching, with the former linebacker overpowering Rick. The fight culminates with Rick accidentally falling from a prison balcony, with Tyreese immediately jumping after his friend as his heroic instincts take over from his fury.
In script notes included in The Walking Dead Deluxe #23 – from Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Dave McCaig – Kirkman reveals a personal childhood experience behind the resolution to Rick and Tyreese’s brief yet bloody fight. Kirkman drew inspiration from a moment that happened while reshingling the roof of his home as a teenager alongside his father. Kirkman writes:
While up there working, we had tar paper laid down to put the shingles over, and I stepped on a part that was overlapping the roof, thinking there was more roof under the paper. There wasn’t, and I fell to the ground. … I was completely fine. BUT immediately after I fell, we’re talking 3 seconds here, my dad just JUMPED off the roof like a superhero. He landed right next to me and was checking to make sure I was okay.
Tyreese’s Leap Is Based on Fatherly Love
Kirkman adds that unlike Tyreese, his father didn’t actually injure his foot in the jump – that detail was added to make the heroic moment feel more believable. The fight may have temporarily stalled the friendship, but it was not lost, and both realized they’d gone too far in releasing their fury on someone who was ultimately their closest ally. While Tyreese didn’t live to see humans retake the world from zombies, he and Rick fostered a sense of humanity and community in their group that ended up reshaping the world for the better. Tyreese’s instinct to instantly drop his animosity and leap after Rick, injuring himself in the process, is perhaps the purest expression of who the group were at their core, versus the flashes of violence and cruelty that allowed them to fight off enemies and stay alive in desperate circumstances.
The Walking Dead Deluxe continues to throw up fascinating behind-the-scenes insights for fans, from hidden celebrity zombie cameos to learning that some moments of heroism didn’t spring purely from Kirkman and Adlard’s minds, but rather from real-life acts of love and kindness.