It only took one appearance for The Walking Dead's new baddie Negan to become a pop-culture icon. As TV villains go, Negan has already shot to the top for pure menacing evil and willingness to unleash carnage. And if he happens to fire off the occasional bad one-liner, that's just icing on the cake.
Long before Negan, though, Darth Vader established himself as the biggest bad guy around. Vader may not be a pun-master like Negan (at least he wasn't until Rogue One), but he certainly surpasses The Walking Dead villain in ability to spread mayhem far-and-wide. But what would happen if you combined Negan and Darth Vader into one super-villain who combines all the traits of a Sith Lord with all the qualities of a zombie-apocalypse overlord?
Artist Robert Shane offers a glimpse of what would happen if Darth Vader put down his lightsaber, picked up a barbed-wire-wrapped bat, and threw on a scarf just for fun. Walking Dead director and makeup wizard Greg Nicotero shared Shane's rendering of Darth Negan on Instagram and it's the stuff of nightmares.
Instead of Rick's group, Darth Negan menaces some unfortunate X-Wing pilots who've wound up his prisoner. A group of Stormtroopers looks on as the Sith Lord/Leader of the Saviors delivers a monologue to the helpless pilots. In a nice touch, the scene is lit not by trucks but by AT-STs. The only thing missing is the famous Negan lean.
The image is flattering in its own way, demonstrating how The Walking Dead's newest villain has been elevated to the same level as Darth Vader in pop culture. The character has certainly had an enormous impact on the show, and in Jeffery Dean Morgan's hands, Negan has become an engaging and unabashedly evil character the series needed.
Vader's most recent appearance in the Star Wars universe, floating in a Bacta tank and taking on a group of very unlucky Rebel soldiers in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, certainly proved once again why the Sith lord has held on to his status as one of the greatest villains of all time. While Negan still has a ways to go before he's cemented a place at the top of bag guy food chain, his recent run on The Walking Dead is a good way to begin his ascent. It's doubtful he'll ever overtake Lord Vader as the biggest bad guy around, but Negan is nothing if not up to a challenge.
The Walking Dead continues on Sunday, February 12 @9pm on AMC.