If you’ve been watching AMC’s The Walking Dead and are all caught up and prepared for Season Eight, you might have a few questions about the charismatic, yet psychotic leader of the Saviors who made such a deadly splash in the preceding season. Negan comes onto the screen boasting nothing but confidence and mayhem, so it stands to reason you might have a question or two. Luckily for you, we are here to answer them! For this list, we dug through all 172 issues of the main series as well as the companion books, Here’s Negan, to uncover the truth about this maniac.
Be warned of SPOILERS, as the television series has remained (mostly) faithful to the comics! If this trend continues and you either haven’t caught up in the books or are expecting a Spoiler-free segue into season eight, consider yourself warned! We will be discussing details from the comics right up to The Walking Dead #172, the most recent issue published prior to the Season Eight premiere. You have been warned so if you don’t fear the spoilers and want to know all there is to know about this upcoming season’s big bad, continue reading 15 Things You Never Knew about Negan! (The Walking Dead is written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Charlie Adlard and Tony Moore.)
15. PROFANITY, THY NAME IS NEGAN!
If you thought Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan from The Walking Dead on television had a bit of a potty mouth, you clearly never cracked open one of the comics. It makes sense when you think about it: AMC may be able to get away with a lot, but dropping the F-Bomb every other word would be a stretch, even for them.
In just one book featuring the charismatic nutcase in charge of the Saviors, Negan uses words even the late comedian George Carlin would consider to be too dirty for television 23 times and that was just the F-Bomb or a very creative alteration to it. That’s not something the network censors are going to let fly. So, if you want to see what Negan’s elegant use of the English language is really all about, Skybound (an imprint of Image Comics) releases new issues of The Walking Dead every month!
14. NEGAN WASN’T KIRKMAN’S FIRST NAMING CHOICE
Negan is a bit of a strange name when you first read/hear it, but that’s probably because it wasn’t Kirkman’s first choice for the character. Originally, he wanted to name the character Nagus but had to rethink his decision when he found out that there was a Ferengi character already named that on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine who had appeared in 11 episodes.
Kirkman spoke about it at a Walking Dead panel at Comic-Con saying, “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.”
13. HE IS HENRY ROLLINS
While actors try to imitate a comic book character as much as possible, Jeffrey Dean Morgan can only go so far to try and look like the true inspiration for the character: Henry Rollins. When Charlie Adlard created the look for Negan, he decided to base him off Rollins and you can really see it in the side-by-side comparison above.
When AMC announced a casting call for Negan, Rollins thought he was an obvious choice for the role, which he auditioned for, but obviously didn’t get. “I was up for the role of Negan because of Charlie Adlard, who worked on the comic book, based that guy on me and so I was a shoo-in for an audition. I went for the audition, and there were five pages of really cool dialogue with all these curses and it was beautiful, but I didn’t get it.”
12. HE CAN BE COMPASSIONATE
If there’s one word that perfectly describes Negan, it’s bastard. He can be a real bastard, and we aren’t referring to the definition that’s become so important in shows like Game of Thrones. He treats people terribly and uses them for his own purposes. When he does this, it’s often a means to an end, which becomes evident as time goes on. There have been moments — not many, but a few — where he has shown remorse and compassion when he hurts someone.
When Carl stowed away onto Savior territory and killed a bunch of guys, Negan takes him into his lair to deal with him. He sits him down and forces him to remove his eyepatch. This was done in both the comics and the television series. In the books, when Carl cries, Negan is taken aback and immediately apologized for what he made Carl do.
11. HE WASN’T ALWAYS A PSYCHOPATH
Not everybody can remain as they were before the apocalypse and Negan is a pretty good example of how much people can change. Before everything got turned upside-down, he was a high school gym coach who worked part-time as a used car salesman. He was pretty much an ordinary guy who got on well with others and was married but had no children.
Occasionally, Negan would invite some of his students over to his garage to play ping pong — no, that isn’t a euphemism; he really did enjoy hanging out with his students. However, he would often belittle them with trash-talk and his use of profane language. That wasn’t a new development when the world went to hell. Eventually, he got into trouble with the school and some of the kids’ parents, but he was generally a nice guy and certainly wasn’t a murderous psychopath.
10. NEGAN IS 5TH FOR HIGHEST KILL RATE (SO FAR)
Since he first walked onto the series in issue #100, Negan has racked up the fifth highest number of kills, not to include dropping anyone who was already dead. According to The Walking Dead wikia, Negan has killed 27 people, which, when you think of how many people are actually left alive in the comics and on the show, is a huge number — more than most serial killers. His first kill in the comics was Glenn, who was his second after Abraham on the television show.
As we said, Negan is fifth and he stands behind Daryl with 35, Carol at 38, Rick with a whopping 52 and the Governor with the score to beat: 139! There may not be enough people still living in The Walking Dead universe for Negan or anyone else for that matter to be able to catch up to the Governor… not that any are really trying.
9. HE HAS A TWISTED SENSE OF HUMOR
Can you really blame the guy? In a world gone mad where the dead walk the Earth in search of anything living to consume, losing one’s sense of humor can mean giving up. Even when Negan is on his own and talking aloud, he can’t help but crack a joke… even when he is slamming a blade into the forehead of a former person.
Granted, most everyone else we see in the comics and the television show doesn’t seem to maintain the level of comedic undertones Negan expresses so well, but that has a lot to do with his grandiose personality. In the panels above, he is berating the dead as he puts them down and even comments to himself that he should save such gems for when people are around. Of course, it’s likely he is cracking these jokes more for himself more than anyone who might be listening.
8. LUCILLE IS NAMED AFTER HIS DEAD WIFE
Negan never comes out and says this to anyone in the comics, but it is revealed that the bat he so lovingly refers to as Lucille is named after his deceased wife. It makes some sense when you see how much he clearly loves the bat, which he personifies as much as possible.
When the bat smashes during a fight, he buries it. To be more precise, he gives it an honest Christian burial with a cross marking the grave. He even kneels above the grave and expresses remorse for his loss, which is clearly the loss he feels for his dead wife, Lucille, all over again. Recently, in issue #170, he visited the grave again with tears in his eyes saying, “I missed you so much. I know I’m pathetic. I know you’re just splintered pieces of wood. But you’re… You’re all I have…”
7. GLENN WASN’T SUPPOSED TO DIE
If you watched Season 7, you saw Glenn get his head bashed in by Lucille when Negan had to show the folks at Alexandria who was boss. It happened in the comics in somewhat the same way (without the misdirect killing of Abraham) in issue #100, but that wasn’t originally supposed to be Glenn’s fate, or Negan’s introduction.
Kirkman originally planned to have Rick kill Glenn in issue #75 by presenting Rick with an impossible choice: choose between saving Carl or Glenn. Well, it probably wasn’t an impossible choice given that Carl is his kid, but he probably would have felt sore about it for a while. Kirkman changed his mind and decided he wanted to let Glenn do his thing for another 25 issues before bringing Negan into the mix a little early. That presented the perfect opportunity to knock Glenn out of the picture and stir things up.
6. NEGAN RESPECTS RICK… AND VICE VERSA (SORTA)
Rick and Negan aren’t all that different, really. Because of this, Negan respects his rival. Both men work to protect those in their care and are willing to kill anyone who gets in their way. Think about it: Rick has killed 52 people so far, which is much more than Negan. While they have somewhat different motivations pushing them towards their goal, they are, in a sense, the same.
As the story develops in the comics, Rick realizes how similar they both are, which may be why things turn out the way they do. Negan clearly has respect for Rick and his methods, but Rick’s respect of Negan is much more muted, though he would never come out and say it. Negan, on the other hand, wouldn’t hesitate. In fact, he outright praises him on several occasions and Negan is nothing if he isn’t sincere… even to a fault.
5. HE’S HIGHLY INTELLIGENT
You might think that Negan isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but thinking that would get you killed in The Walking Dead universe. While he appears to be little more than a bully and a dictator, he knows exactly what he is doing every second of the day. Negan understands people and their motivations, a trait he likely picked up selling used cars. He can size someone up in an instant and determine the best way to handle them.
This has enabled him to reach the height of power over the Saviors, Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom, as well as other areas we may not even know about. You can only get so far with bullying tactics along, but eventually, you will lose power. When it comes to Negan, he knows his enemies, respects them and handles them in the manner best suited to each situation.
4. NEGAN SEES CARL AS A SON
Negan respects people who show their true nature and who take action. That’s one of the reasons he didn’t waste Carl the second he popped out of that truck and mowed down a bunch of his guys. Instead, he takes him into his home and has a nice talk with the boy before taking him back to his father. Granted, there was a lot of intimidation and threats along the way, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have genuine feelings for the boy.
Remember, Negan was once a high school coach, so he has a lot of experience working with kids. Perhaps he saw something of himself in Carl or he was just reminded of the kids who went to his school. Whatever the cause, Negan saw Carl as something of a son, which is interesting given that Negan never had any children of his own (that we know of).
3. HE CAN CONVINCE ANYONE TO DO ANYTHING
Let’s put aside the fact that he talked a large group of combative people into following him, letting him take their wives and girlfriends into his own personal harem, and got other groups of survivors to supply him with food, medicine and anything else he needed. Negan was able to talk down an uprising that looked to tear the survivors apart and he brokered the peace between his former group, the Saviors, and the folks living at Alexandria.
This all went down after Rick killed Sherry when she attempted to kill him. It was a sort of accident, but the Saviors didn’t agree and they came to the gates of Alexandria, guns-a-ready. Negan stood outside and convinced them to stand down, accept Rick’s leadership and re-ally with him and his group. Then he offered his condolences, packed his bags and left. That’s some moxy on this dude.
2. NEGAN IS PERFECTLY SANE
You may think otherwise, given his actions in the show and the books, but Negan is most certainly a sane man. Don’t get us wrong, he is still a psychopath, but that doesn’t take away from the lucidity of his actions, all of which he deems necessary, given the situation he finds himself in. This goes right back to how intelligent Negan is, which is clear when you analyze his actions individually.
When he needs to, Negan can be contemplative and reasonable — that’s just not something that was necessary throughout his time as the leader of the Saviors, so anyone who has been watching the show might not see him that way. In the comics, we get to see much more than is presented on screen and what unfolds is the tale of an intelligent, sane man who would do absolutely anything to survive. And we mean anything.
1. HE AIN’T DEAD IN THE BOOKS
This has to be the biggest spoiler of them all because you would be reasonable in assuming that Negan might follow the fate of the Governor, but that’s not how things play out in the books. We don’t want to get into too much detail concerning the upcoming war that is clearly going down in Season Eight, but we can tell you that once the dust settles, Negan is alive and well.
This has a lot to do with Rick’s growth throughout the series. While he would have executed him in previous seasons/issues, he finds himself deciding to let him live once it’s all over, which causes a LOT of friction between him, the remaining Saviors and the survivors at Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom, who were victimized by Negan throughout his reign. Letting Negan live is a decision that will likely have implications well into the future.
Did we miss any of your favorite facts about Negan? Let us know in the comments!
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