When Negan waltzed on to the pages of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead back in 2012, accompanied by his barbwire-wrapped bat Lucille, he shook things up for our favourite band of survivors, killing off a major character and reducing leader Rick to a shadow of his former self. His entrance into the TV adaption this season was no less spectacular. Played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Supernatural fame, the leader of The Saviors – a band of roughly 70 survivors that prey on smaller colonies – looks set to take the show in a whole new direction. After all, he’s The Walking Dead’s official ‘big bad,’ a hefty title considering it took ten years for him to show up. It’s time to study up – these are 13 Things You Don’t Know About Negan (And Lucille). You might start to view this madman a little differently…
13. He’s still alive in the comic books
Sorry to everyone who was hoping Negan was going to meet his grim end this season, but if the show stays in line with the comic book story, it’s not happening any time soon. As far as issue #158 is concerned, Negan is still alive, although he’s no longer the primary antagonist. In fact, he spent a long time as Rick’s prisoner, living in a cell in the Hilltop Colony. However, Rick has since let him out and is attempting to rehabilitate Negan by letting him fight alongside the other survivors in a war against the books’ current bad guys, The Whisperers.
Despite his recent lack of fortune, at 58 issues Negan has had the longest run of any Walking Dead villain so far, outlasting the Governor (50 issues) and Shane (8 issues). He has also had the most appearances of any new character we’ve met in the third compendium.
12. Negan was a relatively normal guy before the zombie outbreak
Due to the popularity of the character, Kirkman has created a prequel series called Here’s Negan, about everybody’s favourite bat-wielding maniac before the apocalypse. Six chapters have been released so far, each with four pages, and the completed version out at the end of the year will be 48 pages in total.
Just like Rick, before the zombie outbreak Negan was a decent guy with a regular life. He lived in Virginia, had a steady job and was happily married. He was a used-car salesman, which explains his natural charisma and ability to manipulate people, as well as a high school basketball coach and a fan of ping-pong. He was popular with his students, and even invited them to play against him in his home garage, where he often received complaints from their parents for his aggressive language and punitive attitude.
11. Lucille is named after Negan’s dead wife
In Here’s Negan, we also discovered that Negan had a wife called Lucille, who his beloved bat is named after. Negan was devoted to her, despite the fact he had an affair. Sadly, Lucille was diagnosed with cancer before the apocalypse, and Negan stayed with her through her treatment. She finally succumbed to her illness and died in hospital, just as the zombie outbreak was starting to get out of hand. She was reanimated, but Negan didn’t have the heart to kill her, instead asking another survivor he had helped out at the hospital to do so.
The death of his wife is part of the reason why Negan is the way he is. Or, as he says in his own words in issue #156: “I lost someone… very close to me. It was right before all this happened. One day they were there… and then it all just fell apart. They died. And it broke me. I don’t feel anymore. I don’t feel sad… I don’t feel scared… I don’t feel happy. I’m just… here. That’s my strength.”
10. Rick and Negan are actually very much alike
As well as their similar life stories pre-apocalypse, when you get down to the nitty gritty of things, showrunner Scott M. Dimple says that Rick and Negan are not so different post-apocalypse either. After all, they’re both strong leaders who’ll do anything to survive, as well as having lost someone they loved. “Things are getting grayer and grayer and grayer,” Kirkman told IGN. “It’s not a vast gulf between those two.” In fact, Kirkman believes had we been following Negan’s story from season one instead of Rick’s, we’d be rooting for him instead: “I think with Negan it’s about positive reinforcement. He has approached the world in a certain way, and the world has rewarded him for that.”
However, the key difference between the two characters is the motivation for their actions. Rick’s behaviour can be out of line, but he does these things – such as not allowing new members into the prison – to protect those he cares about. Negan, by contrast, does things for personal gain and to maintain his power over others.
9. Negan’s comic book equivalent swears A LOT more
In the comic books, Negan is known for his clever word-play and tell-it-how-it-is attitude, and that includes a whole lot of swearing. He drops f-bombs and the c-word into conversation as much as possible, but at least he does it creatively. While the character’s excessive use of profanity isn’t much of an issue in the world of adult comics, where it’s strictly confined to the page, TV is a little more in your face. Although there are many successful shows with a penchant for bad language, such as True Blood and The Wire, AMC’s standards and practices won’t allow it, meaning Kirkman had to tone down the curse words. However, the original swear-ridden scenes will be available on other formats – on the DVD version of the season 6 finale, Negan says the f-word an impressive 23 times. But let’s face it, his epic monologues are just as effective without the swear words anyway.
8. He wasn’t originally called Negan
Originally, Robert Kirkman was going to name the leader of the Saviours Nagus, until he realized there was already a character with that name in the TV series Deep Space Nine. When asked how he came up with some of the more unusual names The Walking Dead at Comic Con, he explained the origin of Negan’s moniker.
“Every now and then I just make up a word and then I look it up and it’s a name. So he was Nagus for a long time, and then I realized that the Ferengi High Commander on Deep Space Nine was called the Grand Nagus. And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s where I got that! Oh, okay. Uhh, maybe he’s Negan.’ So that’s how that happened.”
Kirkman also toyed with the name “Negus” for a while, but Negan (pronounced Nee-gun) is just so much more powerful than either of the other options. Can you imagine someone called Nagus taking over a band of rebels? We didn’t think so.
7. The character is inspired by Henry Rollins
Jeffrey Dean Morgan may be doing a badass portrayal of Negan, but the character was actually inspired by another actor. Charlie Adlard, who illustrates the comic books, based Negan on Henry Rollins (we can see the resemblance), and unsurprisingly the 55-year-old thought he was a shoo-in for the role.
In an interview with Forbes, Rollins talked about auditioning for the part, but ultimately lost out to Morgan.
“I was up for the role of Negan because Charlie Adlard, who worked on the comic book, based that guy on me and so I was a shoo-in for an audition. The internet was wild with speculation because in the upcoming season, they were going to introduce the character. I went for the audition, and there were five pages of really cool dialogue with all these curses and it was beautiful, but I didn’t get it.”
6. Negan wasn’t originally meant to kill Glenn
When Kirkman devised the character of Negan, he was meant to be bought in at a later date. Believe it or not, Glenn was originally going to die by Rick’s hands!
Apparently, Glenn was meant to die in issue #75. Rick was going to be put in a situation where he’d have to choose between saving Glenn or Carl, and of course Rick would pick his son. However, Kirkman changed his mind as he felt that there was still more left to do with Glenn. This led to Negan being bought in early at issue #100, and creating one of the most memorable (and gruesome) death scenes in the saga’s history – Negan pummelling Glenn to death with Lucille after randomly choosing him in a game of “eenie meanie miny moe.”
5. Negan has racked up the fifth highest kill rate so far
Since his introduction, Negan has racked up the fifth highest kill-rate of living people in The Walking Dead. According to walkingdead.wikia.com, Negan has a death count of 27. This is pretty impr-ssive since we’re only on episode four, although some of these are still to come and are only evidenced by on-set photographs. By Walking Dead Wikia’s standards, a ‘kill’ of a living person only counts if the character had a name, and kills points are added for all of the following: “killing the living, killing a named walker, killing a character before reanimation or causing a death.”
Negan’s first victim was Glenn in the comic books and Abraham on-screen, although he finished Glenn off too in the TV adaption shortly after. Since then, on paper Negan has put an end to plenty of other survivors, some we’re yet to meet in the TV version.
Still, he’s got a way to go to catch up with the Governor, who apparently knocked off 139 people by the time he bit the (literal) bullet, but he’s closing in on Rick (52), Carol (38) and Daryl (35). If he keeps going the way he is, we reckon Negan and Lucille will be knocking them off their pedestals in no time!
4. He’s Razor Smart
His bullying nature might lead you to believe that Negan is a bit of dummy. After all, he relies on threats and violence to get people to obey him, which is standard practice for those possess no other way to get respect. However, underestimating Negan based on this logic would be suicide, because the man is as sharp as Michonne’s katana. He knows that fear is an excellent motivator, but he is also smart enough to know that without carrying through the occasional threat his subjects would think he was all talk – cue head bashings. But Negan’s intelligence goes beyond controlling people through terror. Negan was originally a member of the Hilltop Colony, before he got a group of like-minded followers together and formed The Sanctuary, the Saviour stronghold. That takes some brains to pull off successfully, but what is even more interesting is that The Sanctuary has a point system in place, where members can earn points based on good work. This shows Negan knows other ways of keeping his followers in check beyond brutality, and hints at (an admittedly questionable) moral code of his own.
3. He has a softer side
When he’s not torturing or attacking them with a baseball bat, Negan spends his time berating the other characters with insults that would break even the most jaded individuals. In the comic books this is no different, but it is when Negan is at his meanest that also we get a glimpse of his humanity. In fact, he’s even known to apologize for his actions.
An example of this includes when he makes fun of Carl for losing his left eye, which makes the teenager cry, and he also stops his men from hurting Olivia when she slaps him for calling her fat, as he knew he had it coming.
Going back to that moral code of his, Negan is also anti-rape – a rarity in The Walking Dead universe and one of the only positive traits to his personality. “We don’t rape” is one of the tenants of his society, and he even kills one of his own men for attempting to rape another survivor.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan seems to identify with his character’s more forgiving aspects, telling Interview Magazine: “He’s a brutal son of a b, but there are also parts about him that I find kind of endearing. We’ll see if the audience responds to it.”
2. In the comic books, Negan and Carl have a father-and-son like relationship
Shortly after killing Glenn, in the comic books Negan visits Alexandria to take supplies from Rick and co. Unbeknownst to both groups, Carl hides in the back of one of Negan’s trucks in a bid to kill him, and when he is found out uses an assault rifle to kill several of The Saviours. Instead of killing Carl, Negan in intrigued by him, giving him a tour of The Sanctuary and taking an interest in his wounded eye. At one point, he even lets Carl hold his precious Lucille, and promises to be good to Carl, as long as he remains his captive.
Initially, there was speculation that this storyline would go to Daryl in the TV adaption, as he was captured by Negan and his men in the season seven premiere. Daryl is a made-for-TV character, and is not in the comic books, so the writers have to come up with original ways to keep him occupied. However, so far all Negan has done is knock him around and torture him with bad music, so maybe they’re going in a different direction after all…
1. Eventually, there is all-out-war in the comics between The Saviours and Alexandria
Eventually, Rick gets tired of Negan’s crap, and after yet another argument during one of his trips to Alexandria, Rick and his crew attack him as he heads back to the Saviour compound. However, they quickly realize they are surrounded by Negan’s army and back off. Once Negan gets home he prepares for “all-out-war” – a huge turning point in the comic books.
On the other hand, Rick is the one who actually ends up initiating the fight, opening fire on Negan and his men at The Sanctuary. They also take out a portion of the walls, meaning zombies quickly flood the space. Negan responds by bombing Alexandria with grenades.
The next day, Negan covers Lucille and all of his men’s weapons in zombie flesh, so anyone hit will instantly be infected by the virus. They attack the colony, and Rick is shot by an arrow. After a while, Negan’s group temporarily retreat. When they head back to Alexandria, Negan is amazed to see that Rick has somehow survived. Rick manages to trick Negan into a truce before slitting his throat. But since Negan is one tough son of gun, he doesn’t die from his injuries, instead becoming Rick’s prisoner for the next two years.