Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for those who aren't caught up on the television series The Walking Dead.
Those who are strictly show-watchers got excited at the promise of a new group of bad guys. And fans who also know the comics inside and out tried to figure out what was going on.
Some fans question whether or not the Reapers are even in the Walking Dead comics. The other major Season 11 storyline about the Commonwealth is ripped straight from the pages, so it should stand to reason that the Reapers are also baddies from the source material, right? Well, it's not quite that cut-and-dry with this one.
Who are the Reapers in the 'Walking Dead' comics?
It turns out, the Reapers aren't from the Walking Dead comics at all. (Insert shocked Pikachu meme here.) Even though the show doesn't always follow the storylines from the comics, and there are some rogue characters and events here and there, the Walking Dead TV series is a dream for most fans of the comics.
For years, they've watched some intense storylines come to life. But this time, the Reapers are a total work of television fiction.
That could be a good thing, though. While we have the parallel plot with the Commonwealth, which is from the comics, both readers and watchers of The Walking Dead are in the dark with the Reapers.
There are no comic book spoilers out there about these mercenaries who also blindly follow their religious leader, Pope.
Executive producer Denise Huth told TWDUniverse (per ComicBook.com) during a Twitch live stream event in August 2021 that the Reapers are a "complete clean slate" for the writers and "that's exciting for us and the characters because [viewers] don't know where it's going either."
Unlike before, when comic book readers knew plenty about the Whisperers and even Woodbury, the Reapers mark a whole new ball game.
In the show, the Reapers are former soldiers and mercenaries who remained together as the apocalypse rolled in. Their goal, other than to blindly follow Pope, is to survive no matter the casualties along the way.
The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang recently told Entertainment Weekly that "they feel as part of their philosophy that they are in some ways chosen."
Who is the leader of the Reapers?
Angela also told the outlet that the character of Pope was written with the actor who plays him, Ritchie Coster, in mind. Pope is the ruthless leader of the Reapers. And, as he shows in the Sept. 12, 2021, episode of The Walking Dead, he isn't above turning on his men if he has to.
He's all about loyalty, and when one of his men shows he didn't save his brother in arms, Pope pushes his face into a bonfire and watches him burn alive.
We've had some big bads on The Walking Dead before. We're still dealing with Negan's very drawn-out redemption arc, after all.
Pope is something else entirely. It's hard to say if that's because he has a literal army or because he's not from the Walking Dead comics.
But if the Reapers are dangerous, then he's even worse.
Watch The Walking Dead on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.