The Walking Dead's eleventh and final season could see Daryl and Negan turn from "frenemies" to family, according to stars Norman Reedus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. After conspiring with the widowed Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) years earlier to kill Negan for his crimes, including the murder of Maggie's husband Glenn (Steven Yeun), Daryl voted against execution when Negan committed manslaughter while rescuing Lydia (Cassady McClincy) from attackers. When Daryl tracked down a fugitive Negan secretly set loose by Carol (Melissa McBride), Negan saved Daryl from Whisperers loyal to him after the death of Alpha (Samantha Morton). Daryl repaid that debt by maiming Beta (Ryan Hurst) and saving Negan from certain doom in the final battle of the Whisperer War.
"I'm excited for Daryl and Negan to start working together more," Reedus said during virtual New York Comic Con, pointing out the "big redemption arc in Negan's character."
"He's taking care of Lydia, he's proven he's not the old Negan," Reedus added. "He's a new guy. And I think he's kind of finding family with our group now. So I'm hoping to have more scenes with Jeff, for sure."
When Reedus ribbed Morgan about Negan's failure to get a swing in against Beta, Morgan replied, "I baited him for [Daryl] to be the hero, is what I did."
In "A Certain Doom," Negan stayed behind when Daryl and a team of survivors waded out into the walker horde unleashed by Beta. "You want to be a part of this," Daryl growled, "you gotta put your ass on the line. Just like everybody else." Negan warned ex-Whisperer Lydia that they're never going to earn trust, but each of them ultimately put their asses on the line to silence the Whisperers for good.
Earlier in Season 10, executive producer Denise Huth cast doubts on a full-fledged Daryl and Negan friendship but acknowledged the growing respect between the two after their Whisperer team-up in "Look at the Flowers."
"I don't think Daryl will ever really be able to look at Negan, [and] be able to fully say, 'He's cool,'" Huth said in a behind-the-scenes video. "But it is a moment for Daryl to see, 'Okay, he did the right thing.'"
Showrunner Angela Kang previously told Entertainment Weekly that Negan's good deeds make for a "complicated relationship" with Daryl, pointing out the difficulties of washing away bad blood spilled during the Survivor-Savior war.
"For viewers who'll remember back to Season 9, he was the one that was really all in with Maggie on executing this plan of maybe taking him out. And so, for Daryl, all of it is a complicated relationship, but Daryl's a pretty pragmatic guy and he sees this guy — he did do some stuff that was good, and so I don't think that that's lost on Daryl," Kang said. "But at the same time, is he ready to call this guy his best friend? I don't think so."