Whether one loved The Walking Dead's season 6 ending cliffhanger or loathed it, it's hard to argue that the introduction of Negan as a character wasn't done well. One of the most infamous villains to ever grace Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead comic books, Negan is someone fans have been eager to see jump to the small-screen since early in TWD's run on AMC, and it was absolutely essential that they got him right. At least so far, there are very few arguing that they didn't.
Played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Supernatural, Watchmen) The Walking Dead's TV rendition of Negan was presented in the season 6 finale as a confident, direct, and almost affably evil leader to the vicious survivor cabal known as The Saviors. As quick with a sly smirk as he is to bash in a skull, Morgan's Negan definitely made an impression, although to some those memorable qualities just made the agonizing wait to find out who he killed with Lucille that much more unbearable. While who Negan killed is probably the most talked about question heading into the fall 2016 season, what exactly the charismatic psychopath will do next is definitely up there as well.
That said, to truly understand where Negan is headed, one should logically first understand where he's been. Thankfully, as revealed by Morgan in a new interview with EW, viewers are in for a good-sized dose of information about what lead up to Negan becoming the powerful warlord he currently is, and how he managed to not only survive but thrive during the apocalyptic zombie outbreak. Along with Morgan's comments comes a new poster for The Walking Dead season 7, naturally featuring Negan:
"We’re going to find this out. We’re going to actually find out a lot more about his world. The last six seasons we’ve followed Rick and his band of merry men. Now you’re going to find out in that time Negan has been running his own show in his own way and coming across all sorts of people and taking care of business. So he has created his army of followers and some are probably reluctant followers, and if they’re reluctant followers he has a way to deal with that as well. If you read the comic books a lot of this isn’t coming as a huge surprise, but we’ll get to see a little bit of that. So basically Negan is going to impose his will one way or another.
So in finding out more about Negan, we’ll find out how his life has been since the zombie apocalypse started, since the outbreak began, and we’ll find out sort of how Negan has come to be who he is. He rules with an iron fist and a sense of humor. He’s a very charismatic guy. But a lot of those questions will be answered and more are coming, but we’re going to find out some backstory very quickly on how the Saviors operate and how Negan operates. I think by mid-season or so a lot of those questions will be answered."
As Morgan acknowledges, what is revealed regarding Negan during The Walking Dead season 7 will likely not come as too much of a shock to readers of Kirkman's source material; although that is obviously the case when any well-known written work is adapted for TV.
That said, Kirkman has shown a tendency to try and keep TWD the show from mirroring TWD the comic completely, seemingly enjoying surprising readers by twisting established plot arcs and defying built-in expectations. In other words, it's not too hard to imagine that Negan's backstory as laid out on the show will end being up a good amount different than what comic devotees already think they know it to be. One thing seems for sure: it's unlikely Negan's past (mis)deeds will do much to generate audience sympathy for him.
The Walking Dead season 7 premieres October 23 on AMC.