The Walking Dead has teased a redemption arc for Negan throughout Season Nine as his interactions through prison cell bars and a choice to go back to them voluntarily have shown a friendlier side. It's a story which comic book fans are familiar with, though some slight deviations seem to be coming to the TV series by comparison. According to The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang, Negan's redemption arc is only just beginning while the former villain still has some tricks up his sleeve going into the show's tenth season.
Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season Nine finale follow. Major spoilers!
When a snowstorm took over the Alexandria area, Judith went missing when a search for Dog pulled her away from the group. The only character who broke away from the chain of survivors in an effort to find her: Negan. His heartfelt interactions with Rick and Michonne's daughter was an interesting flip for the character who once bashed the skulls of Abraham and Glenn.
In fact, the entire time jump following Rick's exit in Episode 9x05 may have been influenced by the redemption arc for Negan centering around one of Rick's kids.
"Definitely for Negan, we knew that we were going to be jumping time in a way that the comic book doesn't," Kang told ComicBook.com of a possible redemption arc. "We had a bigger time jump. We knew that one of the things that was an interesting dynamic in the comic book was Negan and Carl. Carl's not in our universe, but Judith very much is, and we were really excited about seeing, okay, what is Negan's interaction with the 10-year-old Judith, who, in some ways, would remind him of Carl, but in other ways, she is completely her own person. And so that was just a connection that we thought was interesting to explore, and because of the great passage of time, it kind of gave us the opportunity to tell stories about what happens to this person who's been in prison for this many years, and has gone through the darkest moments of his life in there? What has he been doing, what has he been thinking about?"
In the comics, Negan's jailbreak saw him infiltrating the Whisperer camp in an effort to kill their leader Alpha as a pledge of his allegiance to Alexandria. Whether or not that is coming to the AMC series remains to be seen.
"I do think the way that Negan is, and I think sort of is in the comic book, he's like, 'Hey, man, I'm a joiner,'" Kang said. "He wants to be important to the situation, so this is very much inspired by what's in the comic book. We've just pushed it further along in time, and I think it's been interesting for us to play with a version of Negan, who... He's still Negan. Negan always has an edge. That's always my role for him. Negan can't ever fully go soft because then that isn't who he is. However, it's interesting to see what are the steps that he takes to try to redeem himself? What are some of the other aspects of his character that we haven't seen before?"
Kang has done an impressive job of balancing elements unique to the TV series and straight from the comic books. She will continue to do so with Negan's future.1comments
"As somebody who's working at ComicBook.com, you know what comes in the comic," Kang said. "There's some really interesting story for Negan moving forward, and we're going to kind of play with our version of it, but we just thought what is the way in which Negan gets out of prison in our world, and how is that similar to or different from the comic book version? So this all plays in his story moving forward."
The Walking Dead returns for its tenth season in October. Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fifth season on June 2. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter and watch ComicBook.com's After The Dead each Sunday night following new episodes on Facebook.com/ComicBookNOW.