The character made his presence known on the series by bashing in the skulls of two beloved others, one of which had been with the AMC series since its earliest episodes. However, killing Glenn and Abraham was not enough to get fans to truly hate Negan. His extravagant charisma and endless dark charm have fans falling in love with the manipulative oppressor of Alexandria.
Speaking to a packed house in Los Angeles for PaleyFest on Friday, The Walking Dead's writer and creator Robert Kirkman weighed in on fans' responses to his most violent creation. As Kirkman's description goes, Negan is "this awful person doing these awful things to characters that we love but he has this, but he has this spark to him that is really engaging, really entertaining and really lovely.”
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Part of the "lovely" description is credited to Jeffrey Dean Morgan's portrayal of the character which had significant groundwork laid in the comics, teeing up a home run for the actor. “Jeffery portrays him so well, there is a warmth to him while he is doing absolutely horrible things that you want to hate him for," Kirkman said. "I don’t know how he pulls it off but it is absolute magic to watch him do it.”
Combining Kirkman and Morgan's efforts with the character, audiences' responses have been exactly what the writer was aiming for. "The thing with Negan that I always wanted to accomplish, especially in the comics, is he’s so likable, he’s personable," Kirkman said. "I’m sorry, he does horrible things that you don’t like, but at the end of the day that thing he said was kinda cool.”
Fans of the comic can attest to Negan being likable, seeing as the pages which saw Rick having an opportunity to kill him had many rooting for another outcome. In the latest issues, the villain has transformed into an anti-hero of sorts, even going so far as literally saving Rick's life and having Rick return the favor.
“I was burning inside when I heard Robert [Kirkman] talk about how charming [Negan is]," Cohan said. “It bugs me, it bugs me, it bugs me!”
Still, Cohan can see where everyone else's opinion is coming from.
“I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan, so, I get it," Cohan said.
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