It’s been some time since we’ve encountered a villain quite as terrifying as The Walking Dead’s Negan. Now we know he followed up on his threat of taking out one (or more) of Rick’s gang, I guess we can surmise that he’s truly a man of his word. But what else is there to know about one of TV’s greatest antagonists?
Here’s what we know so far, from both the TV show, and the comic series. No, don’t panic - we’re not gonna spoil anything if you’ve yet to enjoy the comic. The first four facts will be things we’ve already learned about Negan so far in the show. Facts 5+ however, offer some insights from the comic series, too… so stop on Fact 4 if you’d like to keep it spoiler-free!
Just who is Negan?
Uh, everyone. Kinda. I think.
To pledge allegiance to Negan means calling yourself Negan… at least, that’s what we found out on this week’s show. So if he stomps on by, points Lucille at you and demands to know your name, you’d better answer ‘Negan’. Seriously.
While that may not endear him to you, the interesting thing about Negan is he’s not entirely without compassion, nor without morales. He rules with an iron fist, but his hold on the Saviors makes a perverse kind of sense, and his persecution of Rick’s gang is merely retaliatory. If Rick hadn’t started it, Negan wouldn’t be finishing it, right?
And though Rick and co may have him pegged as a lunatic, some folks feel Negan shares many of the personality traits we’ve seen perpetuated by the Ricktatorship...
Is that why people kneel when Negan passes by?
Yup. Did you see what happens when they don’t?
Does Negan have a wife or kids?
When Negan takes a liking to a lady, he just… well, takes her. And that’s exactly what happened to Dwight’s (ex-)wife, Sherry.
“Believe it or not, things weren’t always cool with us,” he explains to Daryl, recounting how he and Dwight became… well, friends seems a bit strong, but you know what I mean.
When Dwight’s wife’s sister became unwell and needed medication, Negan offered to help out on the proviso she took his hand in marriage. An “orange situation” ensues - Negan shorthand for someone daring to quit the camp - as D tries to escape with his wife, sister-in-law, and the medication the latter desperately needs.
Though Sherry and Dwight pushed back a little on the unarranged marriage, it took an iron pushed against the side of D’s face to bring him around to the idea… (which at least explains how D’s face got messed up since we last crossed his path).
Some would say fair enough - Dwight has done nothing but prove himself to be a douche so far - but it shows exactly what Negan had to do to bring D into line. Everyone has a weakness, it seems, and Negan’s pretty adept at finding them…
Why do people stay if he’s such a lunatic?
In fairness, not everyone wants to hang around.
People who try and escape (seems there’s been plenty of Orange Situations) Negan sends out a recovery team, and when he says it costs an arm and a leg to go after someone, he ain’t lying.
Though savage, severe and a possibly a stitch short of the tapestry, to Negan’s credit most of his crew appear well fed and taken care of courtesy of his point-based system, and though his rules are brutal at best - barbaric at worst - they’re crystal clear. (After all, when he offered up a sexy time freebie to Dwight, it was on the proviso the lady in question was consenting.)
When D came back, tail between his legs, and begging Negan’s forgiveness, Negan graciously accepted. And though Lucille was “itching” to make Dwight pay, when Sherry begged for Negan to marry her in place of killing D, Negan agreed. It worked out better for Negan anyway - she was “super hot”.
SPOILERS from here on in!
Why is his bat called Lucille?
While many have lost family and loved ones to Walkers, Negan’s most catastrophic loss predates the apocalypse. Just.
While Walkers were making their first shuffling steps in the world, Negan was in a hospital room watching on as his wife slowly lost her battle with cancer. A high school gym teacher who also dabbled in car sales - one who frequently upset parents with his coarse language and humiliation tactics - he failed to keep his trouser snake caged and, struggling with his wife’s declining health, indulged in an extramarital affair. Despite his infidelity, however, his wife, Lucille, stuck by him, and so he returned the favour, sitting by her bedside. When she turned - making herself the first Walker Negan encounters - he can’t take her down himself.
Was this responsible for turning him into the man we seen today?
"I lost someone... very close to me. It was right before all this happened. One day they were there... and then it all just fell apart. They died. And it broke me. I don't feel anymore. I don't feel sad... I don't feel scared... I don't feel happy. I'm just... here. That's my strength,” Negan says in issue 156.
“That's why I'm alive. You tell me I have to crush a field of babies to keep breathing? Sure. You say people who rely on me aren't going to live unless I turn someone's head into a bowl of gravy? I'm there. I don't feel bad about it. I don't think about it. It just is what it is. It's survival. But like I said... I'm broken. That's not living. I can't feel things. No matter how hard I try. Not after what I lost. I'm dead to this world.”
I hear Negan cusses like a sailor but he doesn’t seem worse than anyone else. What gives?
As explicit as the language - and effects - The Walking Dead is, not even MA rated TV can contain the true colour of Negan’s most memorable monologues. They’ve been captivating comic readers for 50-odd episodes now, and if you thought he was terrifyingly loquacious on the show, that’s nothing to what we’ve seen of Negan so far in the comics.
To ensure viewers of the show get the full impact of Negan’s f-bomb glory, producers are filming two versions of important scenes - one for TV, and one for subsequent home movie release, including that scene from the opening of Season 7.
Does Negan finally get what’s coming to him?
Negan remains Rick’s greatest antagonists, and there’s no signs he’s going anywhere just yet. While we’ve just been introduced on the show, in the comics he’s been alive since #100, which means he’s been around for over a third of the entire comic series.
While we know he was temporarily incarcerated by Team Grimes, and frequently blurs the line between friend and foe, he remains alive and kicking, and probably still cradling the shattered pieces of Lucille, which was fatality busted in the comic storyline.
The Walking Dead season 7 airs every Sunday at 9pm on AMC in the US, and every Monday at 9pm on Fox UK in the UK.