"I think he really does truly believe he is saving people," Kirkman said of Negan's methods on live after show Talking Dead.
"Negan's worldview is psychotic, but he's based in a reality that he at least understands," Kirkman explained. "He's lived through some things — that hopefully we'll eventually get to see on the show — that have given him this mindset of, 'there is a very regimented way to keep people alive and I know how it is and if they would just do it, everything would be okay.' I think he does truly believe by coming in and killing a few people, he can keep more people alive."
"What we do, saving people, it is hard, but it damn well works," Negan tells right-hand-man Simon in 8x10, "The Lost and the Plunderers."
Negan — who has dubbed his cache of followers "Saviors" — is forging a new world. It's not a put on: Negan believes his subjugation and his terrorizing of neighboring communities, his enforcing of an authoritarian rule, is saving people.
During a terse standoff with Rick over walkie-talkie, Negan throws his worldview in Rick's face.
"What the hell are you doing, Rick? Why are you fighting? Why are you making this so hard? Carl is dead because of you. Because you couldn't leave shit well enough alone," he states. If Rick had just rolled over and let the Saviors do their thing, Negan says, things would be different. "You set this course, Rick. Who's next?"
Rick spits his answer into the walkie: "You are."
"No. But someone is," Negan says. "You see, I stop people from dying. I am the answer. Now, it may have taken a hard lesson for you to hear it, but you should hear it now. It's time. Do not let any more of your shit decisions cost you to lose anyone else you love."
Negan believes it, but Rick isn't buying.
"You could have just let me save all of you," Negan tells him. "I mean, that's why I killed your friends in the first place."
To Rick, Negan is one big leather jacket-wearing obstacle in the way of the new world — something to be disposed of before everyone else can move forward.
It's a viewpoint shared by Carl actor Chandler Riggs, who said Carl didn't see Negan as a threat, but instead viewed him as "an annoyance getting in the way of a better world."
The now-dead Carl wrote Negan a letter, but how much that plays into Negan's actions moving forward remains to be seen.
Kirkman doled out information about Negan's origins in Here's Negan, a 16-chapter mini-series exploring Negan's life immediately before the zombie apocalypse and his earliest steps in a world gone that has gone bye.
Here's Negan saw the birth of Lucille and the rise of the Saviors, and even saw Negan meet Dwight — who would later come to serve the bat-wielding bad guy -- and get a half-burned face.
The mini-series also revealed tragic aspects of Negan's personal history, including more about the wife he mentioned to Father Gabriel when the two were trapped together in episode 8x05, "The Big Scary U."
During a Walker Stalker Con Atlanta appearance ahead of Season Eight's debut in October, Negan actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan said this season "we're going to find out a lot more about Negan."
The television won't show any of Negan's backstory — yet — with more of Negan's background being expressed through dialogue, as it was in his emotionally honest confession with Father Gabriel.
"There is a lot of Negan's backstory out there. We haven't filmed any of that, but there are conversations with a few characters where we'll find out a little more about him," Morgan said. "We'll have some quieter moments this year, some one-on-one interactions where you'll learn more about where he's from. Even if you hate Negan, you're gonna start to understand how he became the man that he is and why he does the things that he does. I'm learning more about Negan every time I put on my leather jacket."
Speaking to YahooTV last summer, The Walking Dead executive producer Scott M. Gimple said he was tentatively attached to bring Negan's story to screen "in the future."
"You know, I’m always careful about this, [because] things can absolutely change," Gimple said. "There’s a loose plan in place I have."
For now, Gimple takes Here's Negan "as the backstory," he said. "There’s some aspects of it that will probably be cool [on the show]. It’s some fairly far-flung stuff… in the future, you will see some stuff from that."
Gimple has since been promoted by AMC to chief content officer for the entire Walking Dead brand, a move that will see him vacate his position as showrunner on the flagship series.
Producer and writer Angela Kang will take over as showrunner for The Walking Dead Season Nine, but Gimple told The Hollywood Reporter he's interested in expanding the Dead universe with more spinoffs as well as shortform digital series like Flight 462 and Red Machete.
Future productions will be a mix of "traditional stuff, non-traditional stuff, stuff people don't expect," Gimple said.
"We're going to have cool new Walking Dead stuff," Gimple explained, promising "we have a bunch of different things in mind. Some things that are really complimentary to the stuff we're doing now, and some stuff that's far afield and very different."
Could we see a live-action Negan mini-series?
With Gimple setting his sights on a Walking Dead connected universe, so it seems, a mini-series featuring a character audiences are already familiar with isn't out of the question.
If anything, Morgan's schedule and terms of pay could prevent AMC from tackling an eight-episode mini-series exploring Negan before he met Rick Grimes and his merry band of survivors, but the possibility is there.1comments
Morgan has since re-signed for Season Nine, expected to debut this October on AMC.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.