Spoilers ahead for The Walking Dead!
In the realm of television villains, Negan already ranks among the most evil — and he’s only appeared in a handful of The Walking Dead episodes. He’s brutalized Glenn and Abraham, terrorized Daryl and the Alexandria Safe-Zone, and systematically broken Rick Grimes down to a shell of his former self. He’s also served as a divisive figure, as his introduction to the fray has in many ways marked a new era for the series. So, you know, he’s kind of a big deal as far as TWD universe is concerned.
Despite all the hype and hullabaloo surrounding Negan, we haven’t actually seen him in action all that much — at least, not yet. But we do have a way to try and guess where his story might be heading, thanks to The Walking Dead‘s source material — Robert Kirkman’s comic series. Negan first appeared in Issue 100 back in 2012, and ended up becoming a major player over the course of nine volumes. He’s become such an important character in the comics that Kirkman even created a spinoff miniseries called Here’s Negan to address his backstory.
So, as you may have guessed, Negan’s story on the TV series is just beginning. While the AMC series’ showrunners could significantly change things up as they adapt the character for the screen, we’re likely to see at least some of what transpired on the page brought to life. And given how seemingly invincible Negan seems now, you might be surprised at where he ends up.
He does a lot more damage
By now, you’ve probably heard that Negan’s violent introduction to The Walking Dead‘s core characters was eerily similar to the comic book’s plot. But his murder of Glenn in the comics was the first of many violent deaths that he either directly or indirectly contributed to. During his time as tyrant-in-chief in the comics, Negan was responsible for the deaths of dozens of people, including characters like Spencer, Abraham, and Denise.
He also proved to be just as vicious toward his own Saviors as he was to the Hilltop, the Kingdom, and Alexandria. He didn’t just punish the people who stepped out of line — he humiliated, tortured, and scarred them, both emotionally and physically.
Leading through fear was always Negan’s modus operandi — but he was also a pretty decent strategist. In The Walking Dead Volume 19, he revealed to Rick that he always employed a back-up team for his supply runs, to ensure that he wasn’t getting screwed — or that his people wouldn’t get overrun. He also proved that there was at least some method to his brutal madness.
In Volume 18, Carl managed to cross enemy lines and come face-to-face with Negan, whom he formed a dysfunctional relationship with. Though Negan could have killed Rick’s son, he returned him unscathed, proving that he was capable of mercy. As it turned out, that was probably one of the smartest moves he ever made — because eventually, he found himself on the receiving end of Rick’s wrath.
He’s not always in charge, though
For several volumes, Rick worked with Hilltop and the Kingdom to find a way to overpower Negan and the Saviors. In Volume 21, he finally manages to appeal to his adversary — and ends up finding his weak spot. In the midst of a bloody confrontation between the warring factions, Negan and Rick meet face-to-face, and the former sheriff implores his enemy to think about combining their efforts, rather than battling one another.
Though Negan has shown little regard for the greater good up until this point, he seems to take Rick’s words to heart and lets his guard down. Rick, of course, was simply trying to disarm him — and he slits Negan’s throat. Though the wound doesn’t kill the Saviors’ leader, it effectively ends his reign of power.
Negan spends the next two years in a prison cell, under the watchful eye of Rick, a glowering Carl, and other Alexandrian citizens. Though he finds his role and Rick’s reversed, he does eventually end up finding a common ground with him. In Volume 25, he advises Rick, who is concerned about the threat of the Whisperers. Negan is eventually broken out of his cell by Brandon Rose, who holds a deep grudge against Alexandria’s leader and wants him to suffer under the Whisperers’ wrath.
But Negan, surprisingly, ends up striking a shaky truce with Rick, even after being faced with a chance for freedom and retribution. He agrees to fight the Whisperers on the front lines in exchange for living outside of his prison cell — and as far as we can tell, he’s committed to the task at hand.
It’s hard to know exactly where Negan’s story will end. He could just as easily betray Rick at some point as he could become a trusted ally. But given his bloody origins and the prominent role he’s played in the comic series to date, it’s safe to say he’ll be sticking around AMC’s hit series for quite some time.
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