[WARNING: This article contains minor SPOILERS for The Walking Dead television show and comic book.]
Six seasons in (with a seventh just ordered) and The Walking Dead shows no signs of slowing down, continuing to churn out hour after hour of gripping, intense, zombie-fueled television. The key to such intense television? Strong adversity, and no show creates more adversity than The Walking Dead, whether it be it the walkers, the threat of starvation, or simply struggling to live together amicably.
But by far the biggest adversity the survivors have faced are other people, proving that nothing is more detrimental to human survival than other humans. And nothing can prepare Rick and co. for what comes next. Forget The Governor, forget the cannibals at Terminus or the Wolves outside Alexandria’s gates, because Negan is coming.
According to THR, he’s being played by none other than Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen, The Good Wife). Negan has been rumored as coming to The Walking Dead for some time, and usually those rumors come with questions of how Negan could work on television? The Negan that debuted in The Walking Dead #100 is a foul-mouthed (we’re talking f-bombs galore!), barbwire-laced-bat-wielding madman who murders without a second thought (or in some cases with too much thought). To put it bluntly, Negan will need to be tweaked before he’s ready for prime time.
But this isn’t to suggest the Negan that Jeffrey Dean Morgan will bring to AMC will be a watered down villain with no bite. Even without his patented string of colorful metaphors, Negan is a frightening character who’s responsible for a lot of heartache. This role is a meaty one and Morgan is an inspired choice, promising that Negan will be just as unforgettable as his comic book counterpart. THR is also reporting that Morgan’s Negan will first appear during the season 6 finale before being promoted to a series regular for season 7.
As Rick and co. make Alexandria a permanent residence, the series transitions from being a story about survivors on the road to the re-establishing of civilization. Often referred to as the comic’s “medieval phase,” the arc that introduces Negan sees communities cropping up all over – and not all of them are formed by such world-weary characters as Rick and Michonne. These other survivors’ communities need protection, and Negan heads a group that provides just that – only at a price. The Saviors, as they’re called, use fear and intimidation to keep their “subjects” loyal, providing protection from the walkers in return for supplies. So basically, it’s a feudal system with Negan as their liege lord.
Ever since Tom Payne was cast as Jesus (another character introduced during this “medieval phase”) it became all the more likely the show was following a similar path as the comics. But then came the absolutely shocking and as of yet unresolved death from earlier this season, and… well, if you’re familiar with the comics, then you know why that raises some eyebrows about Negan’s upcoming involvement.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC.