It’s that time of year again folks where our favourite television shows are making their return for their next enthralling seasons; continuing on from cliffhangers, setting the bar even higher and looking to pave the way for yet more adventures yet. Whatever your bag, it’s hard to deny that the landscape of television is so vast and impressive these days that it really does feel like an instantly magnetic medium, somewhat matching to the grandeur of the movies.
One such show that has managed to capture our hearts and full invest in its evolving group of survivors is AMC’s The Walking Dead. Having dragged itself back up from its middle season woes, the show has come back stronger than ever and sees Rick and the gang on the end of what could be a pivotal moment following the conclusion of Season 6. The person in control of events is Negan, possibly the groups’ biggest foe yet – and that’s saying something when you look back at how hazardous the fight against The Governor was. Played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Negan is a man obsessed with power, enlisting his group of Saviors to gather any resources possible – at any cost – to claim them as his own.
His introduction at the end of Season 6 was chilling and served a serious message that he is not to be messed with, but there’s plenty more you’ll want to know about him prior to the new season’s opener. With a possible SPOILER WARNING well and truly in place, check out 15 things you didn’t know about this latest big bad…
15. Negan’s First Appearance
As one of the most notable villains within the Walking Dead comics, Negan certainly made himself known upon his arrival. In issue 100, published in July 2012, the appearance of the Saviors finally introduced their leader, a man hungry for power and demanding the possessions of Rick and his followers.
Following the deaths of many Saviors, Negan and his men would take the fight to them, subduing Rick and capturing the rest of the crew for a terrifying ordeal.
Negan would introduce himself to the group, along with his signature weapon Lucille, a baseball bat covered in barbed wire. Negan would then give the group a lengthy introduction to how life around him works, with devastating consequences for the murder of his own Saviors at the hands of Rick, Michonne, Darryl et al.
Picking one member of the group to teach such a lesson, Negan would single out Glenn for death, leaving the group to witness his head smashed in by Lucille and left a bloody pulp. Negan would then warn that he would be back to claim their possessions and make them his own.
As many of you will have known before, or at least by now, Negan’s weapon of choice for delivering complete justice is Lucille. Lucille is a baseball bat covered in barbed wire that has served its purpose on more than enough occasions, whether it be meeting human or walker flesh.
Lucille, a weapon that has somewhat become an icon part of the Walking Dead canon, is actually named after Negan’s wife, whom very little is known about prior to the spread of infection and the collapse of civilization.
While initially serving as a standard weapon for delivering the most punishing of deaths, Lucille is soon ‘upgraded’ for want of a better word, with Negan dipping it in Walker guts and using it to turn foes into the infected.
13. Profanities Aplenty
Negan certainly isn’t a man to mince his words; he’ll say it exactly how he sees it, even if it does mean using multiple profanities, including that dreaded four-letter c-word. That’s right, this is a man who regularly drops f-bombs and so much more into his standard communication with people.
While this certainly pushes the boundaries and is rather acceptable on the pages of the comics, adapting this to television will surely be a bit more of a challenge.
Sure, shows such as Deadwood and the more recent Game of Thrones have their own penchant for foul language, but a network such as AMC may have more issues with handling the language. It’s a channel not particularly known for its excess in foul language so we may well see it slimmed down for Negan’s on-screen representation.
12. Negan and Rick Are Very Similar
It’s a strange one when people often compare a key villain to the core ‘hero’ of a television show or film, but in terms of The Walking Dead, the world in which these people reside certainly flips this idea on its head.
Take for instance, Rick Grimes and our newfound big bad for the latest season, Negan. These are two men who led seemingly normal lives prior to the devastating world-ravaging outbreak. Both were loving husbands who had something they love taken away from them and now they’re both leaders looking to make their way in this horrid world.
Both are seen as leaders through their strong characters and it’s undeniable that both men are cold-blooded killers, whether they believe it is for the greater good or not. One may appear to be a villain and the other simply looking out for the people he cares for and wants to survive with, but you’ll soon see that there’s very little to separate these two men from one another.
11. Negan’s Softer Side
Much like one would expect from a character seen as a key villain, Negan is all-too-often a man who doesn’t shy away from pointing fun at the expense of other characters and in the comics there have been plenty instances where he has done so.
That being said, in doing so he has upset those at the wrong end of his taunts and this is where his more human side has been brought out. Going against the grain in terms of showing his softer, Negan has often looked to apologise for his actions.
He has done this following taunts towards Carl about his eye that saw a bullet through it, after Rick’s son was seen crying following a Negan comment, and also looked to make amends for calling an Alexandrian overweight. This instance resulted in a slap, but he was soon to order his men to remove their guns from her direction as he knew he fully deserved the response.
10. Negan Is Here For The Long Run
If you thought that characters such as the Governor and Shane Walsh had their fair share of screen and comic book time, then Negan is pushing the boundaries even further. Much to our delight, it must be said.
Here is a guy who has the longest run of any antagonist within the Walking Dead’s lengthy story so far and he has made the most appearances out of any new character introduced within the third compendium.
In that long stretch he is the only villain to have taken down another antagonist along the way, the victim being Spencer Monroe, a resident of the Alexandria Safe-Zone. He’s also provided one of the only individuals to be seen as somewhat of a cult leader and the character who has arguably made the most impact of anyone who has come up against Rick and co. so far.
9. Negan’s Introduction and Run Could Have Been Much Shorter
It’s amazing when you discover the original ideas for bringing new characters into the fray and their consequent actions to make their grand entrance – Negan is no different.
While the comics introduced him in Issue 100 to a big bang and him pummeling Glenn to death in front of the rest of group with Lucille, that wasn’t originally going to be the case. Instead, Negan was going to be introduced after this specific Issue, with Glenn’s demise originally going to be the decision of Rick’s in order to save his son, Carl.
Kirkman decided that this wasn’t the right decision and instead Negan was drafted in for one of the most notorious scenes ever in the Walking Dead’s run.
8. He Wasn’t Originally Called Negan
While Negan certainly has a justifiably daunting and intimidating ring to it, the Walking Dead villain wasn’t originally called this. In fact, Robert Kirkman admitted that his initial name was actually going to be Nagus, but this actually came from him thinking of Deep Space Nine’s Grand Nagus.
Kirkman explained, “Every now and then I just make up a word and then I look it up and it’s a name. So he was Nagus for a long time, and then I realized that the Ferengi high commander on Deep Space Nine was called the Grand Nagus. And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s where I got that! Oh, okay. Uhh, maybe he’s Negan.’ So that’s how that happened.”
Following that realisation, Kirkman then moved on to think that Negan was a much better name to use. Another idea for the name was also ‘Negus’, but this idea was also shelved in favor for the name we’re all going to love and loathe in equal measure for season seven.
7. A Prequel Story For Negan Is Ongoing
A character who has clearly resonated with much of the comic book fans and is likely to take the upcoming television show’s return by storm, Negan currently has his own prequel story from Robert Kirkman.
While there are small tidbits of information that point back to the big bad’s origins and his life way before the catastrophic events of the apocalypse he now finds himself within, we still don’t know enough about Negan. But thankfully that is all changing thanks to Robert Kirkman and his team, producing a new comic series.
The prequel series is entitled Here’s Negan, with the current comic run likely to draw a plethora of fans of the comics to explore in depth this infamous villain. At this stage it is not known the extent of the television show delving into this back story, with only Jeffrey Dean Morgan stating his desire to possibly head down this more in-depth route for the character.
6. Negan’s Kill Count Is Already One Of The Highest
While most of our points so far have been focused on the comic book version of Negan, we want to give you a little tidbit of information to show the ruthlessness of the latest – and third – main big bad for The Walking Dead.
Since his introduction to the show, which has been admittedly limited so far, Negan has actually racked up the fifth highest kills (of living people) of any singular character in the whole of the show’s run so far.
A staggering statistic we’re sure you’ll agree, Negan has eliminated no less than 25 living characters, tying the long-departed Merle Dixon. Rick comes in second place with up to 40, while the Governor is the man at the top of the pile having taken out over 50 living souls.
5. Negan Leads To An All-Out War
Negan’s introduction to the fray is very different to that of the period in which The Governor made his presence felt. Sure, both guys had their own specific bases of operations, but The Governor certainly looks like a pussy cat compared to the new guy in town.
In the comics, Negan’s ongoing presence would soon lead to a period known as ‘All-Out War’, a series that ran from March 2014 through Volumes 20 and 21, and saw Negan and the Saviors look to defend their residence of Sanctuary against Rick and co from the Kingdom and the Hilltop.
As we’ve already seen from the teasers for the upcoming new season, this is a time where even more new characters enter the fray and you can guarantee that it’s a period from the comics that delivers much more bloodshed and thrills than ever before.
4. Negan is a Master Tactician
Negan isn’t just a guy with a baseball bat who likes to steal everyone’s supplies; he is so much more, especially when it comes to the tactics side of warfare against Rick and the rest of his clan.
This is a guy who always seems to be one step ahead of the game when compared to anyone else, with him ensuring that the Saviors often scout ahead for hidden dangers, prepping for any scenario that could see his gang’s plans go pear-shaped.
After all, Negan has himself used his tactical genius to draw out Rick with a grenade and the promise of one of his prisoners back in safe hands. Being the scheming opportunist, Negan followed through with the promise, with just one slight issue: the returning prisoner had been converted to a walker.
3. Negan and Carl Have A Bond
If there was one character aside from Rick Grimes that you would instantly assume wouldn’t want anything to do with Negan it would be his son Carl. Assumptions are not everything it seems though, as actually there is a rather special relationship between the pair that many would not see happening whatsoever.
Carl, being one of the younger members of the group and still growing up in the ravaged world, often requires someone to help lead him the way forward, and sometimes his father can’t do that.
Enter Negan, a person who often mocks and taunts him throughout in the comics, but also sees himself in the young man. With this in mind, the pair often have conversations while Negan is captured about everything from women to everyday life. There’s a clear respect between the two somewhere, it just may not be right there on the surface.
2. He Is Based On Henry Rollins
Like many infamous characters from the pages of comics or indeed on television and film screens, Negan is based on a particular individual from real life. On this occasion, The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard confirmed back in 2012 that Negan is actually inspired by Henry Rollins.
Being an actor himself, it was instantly assumed that Rollins would indeed be the perfect person to fit the shoes of the character upon his arrival in the show, but this would not be the case, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan eventually being cast.
Aside from being an actor, Rollins also has a music career, having been the frontman for punk band Black Flag, before moving on to create The Henry Rollins Band.
He’s a muscled, tattooed individual who would certainly intimidate many just by the sight of him, so instantly he echoes through when Negan comes to mind. Not only that, he is an incredibly intelligent man, serving as an activist and also contributing to Vanity Fair through their Politics blog, and even hosting spoken word tours.
1. Pre-Apocalypse Life
Like every character we’ve become attached to throughout the Walking Dead series, whether comic or television, there is a story to be told before their life as survivors, murderers and beyond.
Negan is no different, having had a wife named Lucille before the catastrophic events and, much to the surprise of many, he was actually a used car salesman before turning to a much darker path in life. Of course, this means that he is undoubtedly a handy person to be hanging around with, given his expertise in transportation, but it also means he has astute negotiation skills. Or in his case, give him what he wants or you die.
Aside from being a part-time salesman, he was also a High School gym coach, with billiards and ping-pong among the sports he took part in. He’s certainly a man of many talents that shouldn’t ever be underestimated.