Spoilers for The Walking Dead comics follow.
Since being introduced in The Walking Dead issue #100, Negan has become the face of Robert Kirkman's comic book series. The loud mouthed villain best known for killing Glenn with his baseball bat named Lucille has survived almost 70 issues to date with no signs of bowing out any time soon.
Originally, Negan was never supposed to become the phenomenon he is today. Kirkman originally planned on offing the character from his books in issue #108 which, as we know now, would become the first appearance of King Ezekiel and where we learned Dwight was ready to betray his leader. According to the writer, the new plans for the characters just came along as he worked on The Walking Dead's storylines.
Kirkman opened up about the issue in the Letter Hacks section of The Walking Dead issue #167.
"Both of those stories developed as I wrote the characters. Dwight double-crossing Negan during All Out War sort of grew organically as I wrote, and was no planned from the beginning. Negan was originally going to die in issue 108, so he'd have been in the book for... nine issues only. But I liked the character so much I just kept coming up with more for him to do.
"I know fans seem to want to know things are planned out from the beginning because that makes things seem more well-written. It's hardly ever the case. Vince Gilligan has done writers a huge service by constantly talking about how Breaking Bad was a series of them setting up crazy future sequences, and then figuring out how to get to those moments. I plan a lot on Walking Dead, I always know where I'm going... but having the freedom to change your mind and alter stories you have planned, honestly... it just makes things better. I'm certainly not just making the story u as I go along... but the times where writing gets dangerous and new and you have to figure out in the moment how to make it.... well, that's when writing is the most fun and rewarding, and I feel, more often than not, it makes the stories better."
If Kirkman had killed Negan so quickly, fans would have likely developed some villain fatigue as lots of evil faces have come and gone through the years of The Walking Dead. Having a threatening villain evolve into the anti-hero he appears to be becoming in the most recent issues has been one of Kirkman's best received storylines.
Heading into the All Out War storyline on television, fans of the AMC series shouldn't expect Negan to go anywhere if the show continues to follow its source material as accurately as it has in recent years.
MORE WALKING DEAD: TWD Actor Teases Epic Return From Season 1 / Five Comic Book Moments Coming In Season 8 / Why Rick Will Never Bow To Negan Again / When Does TWD Season 8 Premiere? / Three Things TWD's Time Jump Will Skip / FTWD Renewed For Season 4 / TWD Showrunner Joins FTWD
The Walking Dead will return for its eighth season in October of 2017. The first trailer will arrive at San Diego Comic Con in July. For complete coverage and insider info all off-season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.