Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan has served as the big bad of The Walking Dead since the final moments of the series' season six finale, where he terrorized Rick Grimes and his tight-knit group of survivors — mercilessly murdering Abraham and Glenn to establish his dominance and subjugation of the group.
In the apocalypse, Negan is a leather jacket-wearing a—hole with a barbwire-wrapped baseball bat he's affectionately named "Lucille." But who was the enigmatic Negan before he became the unchallenged ruler of the Saviors? It's a question the show has yet to answer — until tonight.
"The great thing about this year, that I can tell y'all, is that we're going to find out a lot more about Negan," Morgan stated during a Q&A panel at Walker Stalker Con Atlanta.
"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. 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."
While Negan's backstory won't be seen in season 8, the show will unveil more about Team Family's arch foe through characters like Eugene, the Alexandrian-turned-Savior who accepted a position among Negan's lieutenants. "The little slivers of backstory that we're hopefully will find out, it's important to have someone like Josh, or Eugene, on Negan's side," Morgan revealed. "Eugene wants to know things. So, it's been a good conduit."
Robert Kirkman's comic books delved into Negan's secret past in Here's Negan, a limited series flashback special that revealed exactly who the dictator was before the outbreak — a series that showrunner Scott M. Gimple accepts as the backstory for Negan's live-action counterpart.
According to the executive producer, audiences will see Negan's origin story sometime in the future. "There's a loose plan in place I have," Gimple said. "There’s some aspects of [Here's Negan] 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."
In the show...
In the show, Negan sees himself as a benevolent ruler and someone who, in his own way, is helping people. (His loyal band of extortionists are called "the Saviors," after all, despite their predilection for forcibly removing neighboring communities of their much-needed supplies and murdering people to keep their "subjects" in line.)
Negan has an infatuation with Lucille, his go-to weapon of destruction that he's previously treated — and talked to — like it was a person, suggesting some kind of intimate and emotional history either with the bat or its name. Despite the murder, torture and terror he inflicts on others, Negan has been shown to extend mercy when he's deemed it necessary, and has even exhibited a soft spot for kids — even Rick Grimes' children, Carl and Judith. And though Negan coerces women into sexual relationships as his "wives" in his one-sided monogamy, he's anti-rape, even killing one of his own men who attempted the barbaric act on one of Rick's people.
Audiences know Negan only through his actions and not his actual past — a past we've not yet been made privy to. Negan is currently holed up in a trailer with Father Gabriel following the alliance's attack on the Sanctuary, trapped by a flood of the undead.prevnext
In the comics...
In Robert Kirkman's comic books, Negan is a mountain of a man and a foul-mouthed brute, whose vocabulary is unrestricted by archaic television regulations: there, Negan is best known for murdering Glenn in issue #100 and for his liberal and creative uses of the "F-dash-dash-dash word."
Negan is also revealed to have been a former used-car salesman and high school gym coach who was reamed out for his disrespectful and belittling attitude towards his students. Negan had a wife who was hospitalized just before the outbreak, with Negan learning she had cancer — a prognosis Negan was visibly upset over when he shared this fact with his mistress.
Negan was visiting his wife at the hospital when the outbreak began, refusing to leave his wife's side even as the area was being evacuated. Negan's wife succumbed to her illness, died, and reanimated, causing a horrified Negan to yell out, "Lucille!"0comments
With Lucille dead, Negan eventually ventured out into a chaotic world where he would relieve a man named Paul of his Louisville Slugger and first join up with the crossbow-wielding Dwight, who would later serve Negan as one of his followers. Having assumed control of a fresh group of survivors, Negan's Saviors were born.
Negan makes his return in the extended sneak peek for episode 8x05, "The Big Scary U," airing tonight at 9/8c on AMC.prev