Negan’s arrival on The Walking Dead has been anticipated for years, and the time has finally arrived. The leader of the Saviors is unlike anyone the audience has seen in the past six seasons, and if he’s anything like his comic book counterpart, it’s going to be an emotional roller coaster from here on out. There is little known about the television version of the character, but we’ll know soon enough; it’s only a matter of hours before fans of The Walking Dead get their first glimpse of baseball-bat wielding maniac and the internet melting his debut will apparently incur.
Here are 12 Things You Need to Know About Negan.
Needless to say, this article contains significant SPOILERS pertaining to Negan’s exploits and plots of the comic book. Keep in mind though, just because something happened in the comics DOES NOT mean it will happen in the show.
Thor has Mjolnir, King Arthur has Excalibur, and Negan has Lucille, a baseball bat covered in barbed wire and his preferred weapon of choice. Much like Michonne’s sword, it’s a weapon that requires the user to be up close and personal with the target. If there is anything in the world Negan loves, then it’s Lucille.
During a confrontation, Carl shoots and damages the bat from atop the walls of Alexandria. Negan orders him thrown down the wall for what he’s done. He uses the infamous weapon to crack Glenn’s skull in retaliation for the group’s killing of Saviors — though someone else may take his place in the season finale — as well as the skulls of countless others, living and dead. Negan regularly talks and prays to Lucille, but little is known about why he has such an attachment to the bat. Already an icon in The Walking Dead comics, she became even more so when Negan dipped Lucille in walker guts. The bat became an infection machine that turned anyone she came into contact with. She truly is one of the most terrifying weapons in the history of comics, and that’s saying something for a simple piece of wood.
11. Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Fans of the CW’s Supernatural will no doubt recognize Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the father of Sam and Dean Winchester, and others may know him as The Comedian from Watchmen. Producers announced back in November that Morgan had been tapped to play Negan, beating out other contenders such as Matt Dillon, Timothy Olyphant and Garret Dillahunt.
Morgan has a ruggedness about him that shines through in whatever character he plays, as well as a sense of humor to match. Anyone who has seen Watchmen knows that he has no problem pulling off a character with a talent for violence, but he’s also got comedic chops, including the cult film Dead & Breakfast, where he squares off with dancing zombies, and the not-so-impressive The Accidental Husband. When you bring unbridled sadism with a Joker-esque bend, you’ve got Negan, and Morgan is more than up for the challenge.
Fun fact: He nearly gave up acting entirely because of a bad experience on Star Trek: Enterprise, but changed his mind after earning the part in Supernatural. Good thing he did, because the opportunity for him to become the best villain on TV has arrived.
10. Based on Henry Rollins
Back in 2012, The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard told a crowd at the San Diego Comic Con that Negan was inspired by actor, musician and activist Henry Rollins. This sent shockwaves through The Walking Dead community when rumors about Negan’s casting began to float around. Who better to play the character than the man creators based him upon?
While that didn’t happen, it’s easy to understand why Rollins inspired the villain. Heavily tattooed and muscular, he is an imposing figure, and at the same time incredibly intelligent. In the ‘80s, Rollins fronted the punk band Black Flag and would later start The Henry Rollins Band. His stage presence has been called an intensely emotional experience. The singer has even had altercations with fans during concerts. He’s also contributed to Vanity Fair’s Politics and Power blog, hosted his own show on H2, and done spoken word tours. Rollins is a complex fellow, and it’s easy to see why he could be the inspiration behind the calculating and intimidating Negan.
9. Curses Like A Sailor
When it comes to the laws of man, Negan doesn’t follow them most of the time. He has no problem murdering and maiming or torturing, but his favorite social faux pas is cursing. In the comics, Negan turns foul language into an art form, incorporating it into every conversation. His sailor-like mouth is about as extreme as comic book character get.
There’s been concern about how AMC will handle his potty mouth. If the show was on a channel like HBO or Showtime, this wouldn’t be an issue of course, but basic cable frowns on the use of certain four letter words. Morgan has said that AMC’s boundaries will be pushed when it comes to language, and while there were instances where series like Breaking Bad managed to get away with some colorful talk, Negan’s mouth will still need to be muzzled a great deal. The Walking Dead creators supposedly worked with the Federal Communications Commission to see exactly how far they can go, so we’ll see on this one.
8. Twisted Sense of Humor
Negan is a cold-hearted psychopath with a wicked sense of humor. Throughout the comics, his turn of phrase often has a comedic, if not vulgar, edge to it. He regularly jokes about people’s weight, deformities and differences as any bully would do. What comes off as juvenile to some is really Negan showing his dominance over them. His simple language and taunts may seem foolish, but they hide a calculating mind. People tend to underestimate the funny ones, and Negan uses that to his full advantage.
Much of his humor is sarcastic, which fits his personality. When he’s locked up in Alexandria after losing leadership of the Saviors, he thanks Rick for locking him up. “I’m having a good time here. No need to boss people around… No fighting for my life against walking corpses. I should be thanking you. Wait! Thank you. From the bottom of my f****** heart. Thank you.” Negan thinks Ricks keeps him around to prove to himself that he’s still a good man, and he might be right.
7. Psychotic Sense of Justice
Negan is a sociopath with a penchant for killing, but he always has a reason. He’s the leader of an organized group filled with followers who have a cult-like devotion to him. While much of his violence is gratuitous, there is a method to his madness. For example, Glenn’s death was revenge for killing his men. At another time, The Saviors made a deal with Hilltop Colony to kill nearby walkers in exchange for supplies. He only killed and beat people if he thought the supplies weren’t enough or they were conspiring against him.
Negan also has a strange morality. He absolutely abhors sexual violence and kills anyone who attempts it. In one instance, a Savior attempts to rape a prisoner, and Negan in turn kills the Savior, apologizes, and tells the prisoner that they “aren’t monsters.” The violence done by Negan is usually either in retribution for some perceived wrong or a play for power — from his perspective, anyway.
6. Bonds with Carl
Negan’s first real interaction with Rick’s son, Carl, occurred when the latter snuck into Negan’s camp and killed several of his men. Carl is captured, but instead of killing him, the villain shows him the compound and talks with the him. He wants to get to know Carl and goes so far as to let him hold Lucille. In many ways, Negan sees a lot of himself in the boy and treats him like a son. He’s also a little scared of this kid that has no problem with killing. He still messes with and insults him, but he does that to everyone.
When Negan is imprisoned later in the comic series, Carl routinely visits and asks advice on everything from life to girls, the sorts of conversations a child in the real world would have with a cool uncle, talking to him about things he’s too nervous to talk to his father about. The dynamic between the two is an odd one, and while it still shows that Negan is a cold blooded killer, he’s not completely heartless.
5. Moments of Decency
Negan is a complex character. He’s the product of a post-apocalyptic world, and even though he kills without remorse, he still has a softer side. Negan often uses insults to demonstrate superiority, but sometimes he can go too far, something he recognizes and often makes amends for.
When in Alexandria, he privately insults a woman’s weight, but she overhears him and begins to cry. He tries to apologize to her, but she slaps him. His men immediately surround her with guns drawn ready to end her life, but Negan stops them. Instead of killing her, he lets her go. In another instance, he’s talking to Carl and asks about the injury to his eye, forcing the boy to show him the wound. Negan is disgusted and yet intrigued by the gaping hole. He insults and mocks Carl to the point where the hardened boy of the apocalypse breaks down in tears. Negan feels ashamed and tries to apologize to him, something you’d never see your average villain do.
4. He’s a Wise Tactician
An army is only as good as its general, and Negan has proven himself to be an excellent tactician. He understands how the world works better than most, and he always ensures that his group is protected. Before going to Alexandria to pick up supplies, he sends a scout team ahead to make sure there aren’t any surprises. When Rick attacks with a sniper, Negan’s boys are ready.
In another instance, Negan throws a grenade over the Alexandria wall to get the group’s attention. He tells Rick he wants to talk and, as a sign of good faith, offers to release a prisoner. Rick agrees to the conversation, but only after the prisoner is back inside the walls. Negan agrees and sends her in, but the group discovers she’s been killed and reanimated as a walker. With the Alexandrians stunned, Negan attacks. There many instances throughout the comics where he’s able to get the upper hand not only through violence, but through careful planning. He’s the most dangerous villain Rick and his group have ever faced, and his mind is his greatest asset.
3. Rick and Negan Aren’t Too Dissimilar
Rick is the leader of the Alexandria group and the focal point of the entire television series. Throughout the seasons, he’s ridden a serious roller coaster, morally and ethically, and he always finds himself straddling the line between good and evil. If Rick hadn’t been pulled back from the brink by people like Carl, Morgan and Michonne, he easily could have wound up like Negan.
Both characters are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their groups going. Rick has killed people throughout the series and justified it as necessary for the survival of his “family.” Negan doesn’t see what he does as immoral, and often complains that he’s bending over backwards to make things work. He’s more than willing to negotiate, but doles out harsh punishments for failure. When Rick banished Carol for burning the infected bodies, he did it for the good of the group. Negan would have killed her…for the good of the group.
2. He’s Not Insane
When fans first meet Negan, they’ll instinctively want to compare him to The Governor. So far, the one-eyed villain has been the biggest bad to hit the series, but while they’re both sadistic killers, Negan isn’t actually completely insane. The Governor appeared calm and collected most of the time, but secretly kept his zombie daughter chained in his house and walker heads in aquariums.
Negan is a killer and has conversations with Lucille, but he hasn’t totally lost his mind like the Governor had. He’s a man who not only likes a battle of wills, but revels in it. What might be considered crazy behavior is actually him enjoying what’s going on. The dynamic between Rick and him is not one of hatred and revulsion, like The Governor, but (eventually) one of respect. While Negan is imprisoned in Alexandria, Rick seeks his advice when faced with a difficult decision. That’s not something our fearless hero would do if Negan was truly insane.
1. Former Used Car Salesman
Negan ruled the Saviors with a mix of intimidation and manipulation. It’s how he’s able to wiggle out of difficult situations and keep his group in check, a skill he likely learned before the walkers arrived. Writer Robert Kirkman revealed to fans that before the apocalypse, Negan made a living as a used car salesman (cue gasp).
A used car salesman makes the best out of a bad situation. He doesn’t have access to new cars with all the fancy bells and whistles, but the used cast-offs other people no longer want, and he’s found himself in a similar situation with the Saviors. He’s got a rag-tag group of people in the middle of an apocalyptic situation, trying to survive. He uses the skills learned as a used car salesman to create a nearly cult-like allegiance from them. He’s a murdering sociopath, but Carl and Rick both keep coming back to him. It’s obvious, they’re buying what he’s selling.
So, will Negan be the best villain on TV by this time next year, or do you think he’s being overhyped? Who do you think will the first character introduced to Lucille? Let us know in the comments section.