The Walking Dead director and executive producer Greg Nicotero once asked then-showrunner Scott Gimple if Maggie (Lauren Cohan) could shoot or kill Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in the Season 8 finale, where Negan is spared before he's taken prisoner by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). In "Wrath," directed by Nicotero, the militia's feud against the Saviors ends when Rick slits Negan's throat, keeping him alive to honor the wishes of late son Carl (Chandler Riggs). Maggie, wanting to avenge murdered husband Glenn (Steven Yeun) but held back by Michonne (Danai Gurira), calls for Rick to "make it right" by killing Negan.
"I said to Scott Gimple, the showrunner, 'I think Maggie should shoot him. I think Maggie should either kill Negan or shoot Negan or do something, because she's right there,'" Nicotero told Collider's The Witching Hour. "I said, 'It's really a hard moment to shoot knowing that Maggie collapses to her knees because Rick spares Negan's life.' I sort of pitched this idea to Gimple, 'Why doesn't Maggie shoot him? Why doesn’t Maggie kill him?' And obviously, Negan's character had more of a journey, there was a lot more going on."
In creator Robert Kirkman's comic book, Rick similarly makes the unilateral decision to spare Negan and imprison him for his crimes. Another comic book scene would be adapted in Season 9 episode "What Comes After," where Maggie confronts Negan before deciding against his execution.
The filmmaker also addressed criticism aimed at the Nicotero-directed Season 8 premiere, "Mercy," where Rick, alongside Hilltop leader Maggie and Kingdom leader King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), unite their communities for a joint attack on the Sanctuary, Negan's base.
"I kept saying, 'Can Negan get shot in the leg? Can he get shot in the arm?' You have a hundred people there, and none of them actually shot anybody," Nicotero said. "Even Jeffrey was like, 'Come on, man! Give me a bullet hole in the shoulder or in the leg, or something!' I was like, 'I would love to shoot you.' Andy was like, 'Can I just shoot him?' I'm like, 'Yeah, we should!'"
He continued, "When we were shooting that episode, I went, 'I know I'm gonna hear about it [online]. I'm gonna hear about a hundred people outside the Sanctuary, not one of them actually hit anybody.' And we did."
Now in its tenth season, which has yet to air its season finale also directed by Nicotero, the show is "really in a great place" under showrunner Angela Kang, who took over that role from chief content officer Gimple starting with Season 9.
"I think Angela's done an unbelievable job," Nicotero added. "Samantha [Morton] and Ryan [Hurst] and all of the actors, Jeffrey and Melissa [McBride] and Norman [Reedus] and everybody, the last two seasons have been really fun."0comments