Negan is one of The Walking Dead's most despised characters. After being introduced in issue 100 of the comics and the Season 6 finale/Season 7 premiere of the TV series, fan are having trouble forgiving him for the brutal murders he commited right off the bat.
After all, he did take out one of the most innocent and beloved characters who had been with the series since its earliest days.
However, Negan's road to becoming the leader of the Saviors was surprising. The villain rose to power through a series of events which would surprise fans who love the villain, hate him, or love to hate him. It was a journey which forced him to conquer weaknesses, or at least hide them, and disconnect from people around him in favor of survival.
He wasn't always the violent showman fans of the series met. By the time readers and viewers met Negan, he was waving a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire and spewing deragotory phrases at every character in sight. It's an evolution prompted by the apocalypse and, in fact, one which showrunner Scott Gimple admits is not too different from Rick's.
"I think if we followed Negan we might even be in the same place that we are with Rick where we're like, 'Whoa. What you're doing there seems like the behavior of a bad person,'" showrunner Scott Gimple said in an interview with ComicBook.com. "What's interesting is, I think for Rick's experience, he's justified in what he's been doing. The world has formed him this way and what he's done has generally been a reaction to being threatened and trying to make sure that his people live. Things are getting greyer and greyer and greyer. But I think the things that Rick has done you can hold up against the things that Negan has done and it's not a vast gulf between those two but the way that they operate is very different. Their philosophies are very different and that's maybe where we see one person being the hero and one person being the villain."
So, what lead Negan to become the egotistical menace fans have come to know?
Prior to the world's disintegration, Negan was married to woman named Lucille (there's your bat's name).
However, during his marriage, Negan was having an affair to his wife's knowledge. When Lucille was diagnosed with a terminal disease, Negan immediately cut ties with his mistress and tried to make up for the lost time with his spouse.
While it never appeared to be enough, Negan spent every last moment by Lucille's side, pushing her in her wheelchair, attending doctor visits, and eating when she was able to. However, in the moments which saw the zombie virus unleashed on the world, Lucille's life faded away. Negan was in the room to not only see her die but also catch her reanimating to his shock and confusion. Meanwhile, the world burned around him and Rick Grimes was in a coma in Atlanta.
Ahead of the end of the world, Negan was a deeply conflicted character, always trying to impress people and be something he may not have necessarily been.prevnext
Then came the end of the world.
The loss of his wife prompted Negan's further disconnection from emotions, which clearly already existed given his willingness to participate in an affair to her knowledge. Hurting people's feelings was never something he was too concerned with but the loss taught him a lesson.
To pay tribute to his wife, the former gym teacher named the baseball bat he protected himself with after her and eventually went on to bury it, apologizing for doing something so irrational.
In the time after the world went down, Negan was introduced to several new faces on his journey of survival. Most of them died and he became more disconnected from human life as they cowered in fear on their way out. He took on the opinion that survival at any cost was the only way to live, which meant surrounding himself with weak people could only bring him down.
This mentality lasted for some time...prevnext
Negan's rise was dark but also triumphant.
The villain met Dwight, the character many fans have come to know for having his face burnt by Negan, and eventually became the leader of Dwight's camp. This all came as the villain displayed the compassion and skills necessary to keep the group safe. While Dwight wasn't happy to lose be moved out of the leadership position, Negan's choices were often smarter and more efficient.
Negan suddenly cared for the people in his group who were looking up to him. While there are still details to be revealed over the next few months, the most recent reveals see Negan standing up for the women in the group surrounding him. Where savage men see an opportunity for rape, Negan saw an opportunity to protect.
Negan's leadership was undeniable. Prior to adopting the belief of killing humans to send messages, the man offered all of the right traits to the people nearby. He appeared genuine and equipped. People were magnetized to his orders and compassion as the character was almost unrecognizable by comparison to his Issue #100 introduction.
Somewhere along the way, Negan ended up a selfish and self-centered power-hungry leader and nicknamed his group the Saviors. It's not exactly surprising, looking at his roots, but it is also not hard to see why so many people rallied behind him in the early days of the apocalypse. With four installments left in the Here's Negan saga, those finals details will be revealed.prevnext
More Walking Dead
To read the Here's Negan origin story of The Walking Dead's greatest villain, pick up the last year's issues of the Image+ preview magazine. The next 4-page installment is set to be published next week.0comments
MORE WALKING DEAD: TWD's Five Worst Characters / New Photo Of Johnny Depp's Dead Head Prop / Negan's Backstory Reveals Completely Different Character / Watch Negan's Alternate Kills / TWD F-Take Clips With Rick And Daryl / Major Criticism Fixed For Season 8 / TWD Casting Two New Characters
The Walking Dead will return for its eighth season in October of 2017. The first trailer is expected to arrive at San Diego Comic Con in July. For complete coverage and insider info all off-season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.