Audiences Aren’t Ready for “Surprising” New Negan in The Walking Dead Season 10

A semi-unleashed Negan in The Walking Dead Season 10 will “surprise you in ways that you’re not gonna be ready for,” teases star Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

“It’s gonna be a really busy year for Negan. He’s been allowed to have a little bit of freedom within the community, and that doesn’t mean a lot, other than the fact that if you think about the fact Negan has been in jail,” Morgan said on Sunday’s Walking Dead Season 10 Preview Special.

“Now he’s out, and he’s kind of amongst the community. Meanwhile he’s on lockdown at night, so he still sleeps in his jail cell, which I think he’s okay with. But yeah, he’s getting more and more freedom, and with that comes more interactions with some of our favorite actors on this show.”

The first Season 10 trailer revealed a tense encounter with Daryl (Norman Reedus) from behind bars, and more prodding from Negan when Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) are forced to keep the ex-Savior leader under their supervision.

“He’s going to surprise you in ways that you’re not gonna be ready for as an audience,” Morgan teased. “Whether that be good things or downright awful things, that’s the beauty of him. You don’t know what you’re gonna get. That’s why I’m still here, Season 10, as an actor, because how lucky am I?”

While Morgan doesn’t characterize Negan’s Season 10 story as a redemption arc, showrunner Angela Kang says the long-jailed bad guy’s flirtation with heroism when saving Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) amid a harsh blizzard in the Season 9 finale plays a pivotal part in his continuing development.

“I think we started an arc last year, which was really interesting for him, which Jeffrey really killed. He’s just trying to figure out, where is his place in this new world? Negan is a guy who likes to be in the middle of things, and being in a jail cell means he’s definitely not in the middle of things,” Kang said.

“When he saved Judith, that was an unexpected bit of redemption for him. He could have taken the opportunity to try to run, who knows what he could have done, and he kind of acted the hero, which is not necessarily what people would have expected. So he’s certainly started that way, he’s out and about in the community, that means a lot of different things.”

Even as Negan cozies up to the Alexandrians, he won’t lose his sharp tongue or his tendency to troll.

“I think what’s always really fun for us about Negan is, Negan always has a bit of edge. Negan is Negan,” Kang added.

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“Negan certainly is not exactly the first person he was when we met him on the show, but that doesn’t mean that element of danger and the dark ways he can think about the world is totally gone. So I think what’s gonna be fun for us is just to kind of play with that and see how Jeffrey’s bringing it all to life, and unleashing the Negan a bit.”

The Walking Dead Season 10 premieres Sunday, October 6 on AMC.