The Awesome Way The Walking Dead Season Finale Referenced Escape From New York

Spoilers below for The Walking Dead's Season 7 finale.

Last night's episode of The Walking Dead spent a good chunk of its runtime dedicated to drawing out all the feels for Sasha and her noteworthy exit, which was a wicked clever twist on the comics. After her big walker reveal, viewers got the first big action-packed installment of Team Family vs. Team Negan, with Alexandria as the battlefield. In all of the madness, the show's producers snuck in a stellar reference to John Carpenter's classic post-apocalyptic action romp Escape from New York, and it came via Negan's weapon of choice whose name wasn't Lucille.

Negan gun snake plissken

While Negan hasn't shied away from utilizing a bevy of weapons to sate his urges, we all know he's virtually inseparable from his beloved baseball bat. And since he so rarely brings her out for death-dealing duties, it's always interesting to see what he ends up using to cut short the lives of those around him. (As well as the methods behind non-fatal maimings.) Once Shiva flew in and saved Carl from getting his brains splattered everywhere, Negan brandished the firearm seen above. Understandably, a scope wasn't all that necessary during a high-movement gunfight within an area as small as Alexandria's main drag. So it makes all the sense in the world to learn that the gun was a shout-out to one of cinema's greatest action heroes: Snake Plissken.

This factoid was shared on Talking Dead, and I had to smack my head for only giving the gun an odd look and not picturing Kurt Russell holding a similar weapon. I mean, Carl is the one with the Snake-ish eyepatch in this universe, not Negan! Kudos to those of you who did catch the reference straightaway.

escape from new york snake plissken gun the walking dead

Executive producer, director and effects mastermind Greg Nicotero is known for peppering episodes with pop culture details familiar to genre buffs, and this season only recently had a great Creepshow moment. But now that he's brought Snake Plissken into things for the Season 7 finale, the timing works out pretty fantastically for Jeffrey Dean Morgan to enter the conversation of who could play Snake in the upcoming Escape from New York remake that's moved forward recently with Robert Rodriguez stepping in as the director. It likely won't ever happen, but if producers need an extremely short sizzle reel for what it might look like if Snake were trying to escape a countrified suburban setting with his bounty -- in this case an angry redneck instead of the President -- then they need not look any further.

There's a good chance Greg Nicotero and others are already planning the next batch of movies and TV shows that will get some clever references in Season 8, which will hit AMC at some point this fall. While waiting, do some pondering with us by checking out all the questions we still have after that crazy finale, and then head to our midseason premiere guide and our summer TV schedule to find out all the shows that will be hitting the small screen in the near future.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.