The Walking Dead: Everything you need to know about Negan before season 7
With slightly over a month until The Walking Dead returns, many viewers are wondering what to expect from the new villain, Negan, who was introduced in the season six finale. Following The Governor, he is the second major recurring antagonist in the comic series and also has the longest lifespan. Though the show often deviates from the source material, it’s probable that he will have a similar longevity and impact on the narrative, and his comic counterpart may offer some insight. We delve into the comics to take a look at his character and offer some notions as to what we might expect going forward. This article is spoiler-heavy for the comics and possibly for the show.
Alternatively, for those interested in who’s Negan’s victim could be, check out our predictions for who Negan killed in the season 6 finale of The Walking Dead.
Easily the most infamous villain from The Walking Dead comics, the maniacal yet charismatic Negan was first introduced in issue #100. Leader of the notorious group known as The Saviors, he forces nearby communities into handing over half their supplies in exchange for protection in the form of keeping the area free of walkers. When problems arise, Negan and his crew often use severe measures to get their point across. Despite these instances of extreme violence used as a means to manipulate others, Negan operates by a strict code. Anyone crossing the line suffers severe consequences, including his own people.
The Saviors are a cult-like faction who defer to their leader’s every word and command with reverence, even to the point of bowing when he enters and chanting his words. The majority of his followers live by means of a points system to support themselves, with the exception of an elite few who give into his desires for a more comfortable lifestyle. Specifically, several women whom Negan refers to as his ‘wives’. Though Negan only takes wives that are voluntary, many of these women’s former partners are current members of his group, which can often lead to conflict. If caught betraying him with their former lovers, the women are given the choice to return to the point system or to remain his (though if returning to him, they must convince him of their loyalty and affection). If the women choose to remain with him, their former partners are severely physically punished for their betrayal of Negan by having their faces burned with a searing iron.
Negan’s weapon of choice is a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire, who he lovingly refers to as ‘Lucille’ and is named after his deceased wife. He professes that the apparatus has saved his life on more occasions than he can count and declares that she’s “the only bitch I’ve ever loved”. His attachment to his weapon can be considered deranged, as he expresses having had sexual inclinations toward it and even claims to have acted upon them. Though this is not the only sexual reference Negan has made toward his weapon, his confession is conceivably untrue, as Negan often uses sadistic humor to shock others and amuse himself. Regardless, it’s undeniable that he has a profound attachment to Lucille, as she seems to give him a sense of power and exhilaration that undoubtedly contributes to his God-complex and serves as an extension of his personality.
Little is known about Negan prior to the apocalypse, though it has been revealed that his wife died of cancer at the onset of the outbreak. The two were estranged, as he was openly having an affair. He ended his extramarital relationship after learning of his wife’s illness, thinking he brought the hardship upon them due to not being there for her. Negan was quite distraught over Lucille’s deteriorating health and in a state of denial over her fate. His wife ultimately died and turned at the hospital in his presence. This is all that is known about their relationship at this time, although his backstory, titled Here’s Negan, is currently ongoing. Readers have yet to learn specifically what inspired him to name his weapon after her, though it is likely to be revealed in the future. Additionally, his backstory disclosed that he worked as a high school gym coach. In an effort to gain the respect of his students, Negan held extracurricular activities such as ping-pong at his personal residence, though he would belittle and humiliate the teenagers using profanity and inappropriate humor. Unsurprisingly, it was indicated that the parents of the students were unimpressed with his antics and that he would be fired if his behaviour didn’t improve. This confirms that his twisted sense of humor and excessive use of explicatives were an inherent part of his personality prior to the apocalypse.
Despite Negan’s seemingly lowbrow humor and language, he has proven himself to be a highly intelligent individual capable of nearly anything. A dominating presence, he inspires fear and respect from those he encounters, making it easy for him to intimidate others and manipulate situations to his advantage. Moreover, he is very charismatic and convivial, giving him a magnetic personality that many are intrinsically drawn to. He is also known to be both reasonable and practical when it suits him, and even possesses a sense of honor and a belief that the strong are to protect the defenseless. He abhors sexual violence, even killing his own men for attempting it. Additionally, he is keenly perceptive and intuitive by nature, making him a bit of an enigma that is simultaneously likeable and extremely dangerous, as it’s easy for him to get people to let their guard down and confide in him. Essentially, all of his character traits make Negan wildly unpredictable and extremely entertaining, causing him to be to be adored by many and a fan favorite despite the conflict he brings.
Negan’s presence will certainly cause ongoing strife and hardships for Rick Grimes and company, and will impact the story in a profound and irrevocable way going forward. After losing a core and beloved member (or members) of their group to Lucille and being forced into giving up half of their hard earned supplies, we will eventually witness Rick’s group banding together with other communities in an epic attempt to defeat The Saviors once and for all…with an utterly unexpected outcome.
Interestingly, comic creator and The Walking Dead producer and writer Robert Kirkman has disclosed that Negan is not altogether different from Rick Grimes. He acknowledged on an episode of Talking Dead that had the story begun with Negan waking up in the hospital and followed his journey instead, that fans would likely be empathetic towards him and would view Rick and his group as the antagonists. Regardless of viewers personal views on Negan as a character, he will be a major figure (albeit a censored for tv version) that will be around for several seasons to come, bringing something fresh and exciting to the series that should be welcomed by all.
Image credits: Image Comics, Skybound, AMC