"We survive. We provide security to others. We bring civilization back to this world. We are the Saviors." When telling Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) untold origin story in "Here's Negan," The Walking Dead tees up another backstory: how he became the bat-wielding leader of the Saviors. A flashback to 12 years earlier reveals the first future Savior when Laura (Lindsley Register) hands Negan the eventually barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat he'll name after his late wife Lucille (Hilarie Burton Morgan), but "Here's Negan" ends before Negan takes control of the "cult of personality" that forms around him: his followers who believe "We are Negan."
In the comic book origin story of the same name, Negan becomes the de facto of a group of survivors where he meets married couple Dwight and Sherry. Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Sherry (Christine Evangelista) don't appear in TV's "Here's Negan," but showrunner Angela Kang has revealed original plans had Amelio in a similar role to Laura's.
TV's Negan eventually meets his right-hand man, Simon (Steven Ogg), and together they take over a factory they call the Sanctuary. There Negan appoints his most trusted lieutenants, including Laura, Dwight, Gavin (Jayson Warner Smith), Arat (Elizabeth Ludlow), Gary (Mike Seal), and Regina (Traci Dinwiddie). In time, Negan's Saviors grows to hundreds of loyal followers who help him subjugate other communities.
Kang says more Negan backstory is unlikely to make its way into the eleventh and final season of The Walking Dead, but the beginnings of the Saviors is a story that can potentially unspool in another spin-off or the upcoming anthology series Tales of the Walking Dead.
"There's a ton of story in terms of what happens between ['Here’s Negan'] and his very first murder monologue and when our characters cross him [in the Season 6 finale],” Kang told Entertainment Weekly. "So I really hope that that is a story that is told at some point, but it will probably not be on the Walking Dead mothership series."
In November, Morgan said "no doors are closed" on a second Negan prequel after "Here's Negan" and that he's a "great character with many stories to tell." Morgan has repeatedly expressed an interest in a Negan film or another kind of continuation set before or after the character's time on The Walking Dead.
The Final Season of The Walking Dead premieres Sunday, August 22 on AMC. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD.