The Walking Dead ended Season 10 with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) surviving the Whisperer War by the skin of his teeth, but he faces a reckoning from the returned Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan). Seven years after Maggie confronted Negan over the murder of her husband, Glenn (Steven Yeun), Negan is a free man: Carol (Melissa McBride) unilaterally commuted his life sentence when sicking him after Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton). After infiltrating the Whisperers and rejecting becoming their new alpha by saving Daryl (Norman Reedus), Negan had that debt repaid when Daryl spared Negan from certain doom by finishing off Beta (Ryan Hurst) to silence the Whisperers once and for all.
Carol initially reneged on her pact with Negan, who agreed to assassinate Alpha in exchange for Carol going to bat — so to speak — for Negan. Dianne (Kerry Cahill) is among the distrustful survivors side-eyeing Negan for participating in the attack that burned down Hilltop, bringing him even closer to Alpha's disowned daughter Lydia (Cassady McClincy).
"You want to be a part of this, you gotta put your ass on the line," Daryl tells Negan. "Just like everybody else." Negan urges Lydia to slip away and avoid the looming shitstorm headed her way, telling her, "They're never gonna trust me or you. Doesn't matter what we do now." He can do the same, Lydia says, to which Negan responds he "ain't no hero."
When Lydia helps Carol dispose of the walker horde unleashed by Beta, she's surprised to see Negan among the camp of survivors. "You're still here?" she asks. Flashing a sly smile, he answers, "For now."
Negan's response sets him on a much different path from his comic book counterpart, who is conscripted to fight on the front lines of the Whisperer War and earn his freedom per an agreement with Rick Grimes. With the war ended and the Whisperers silenced, Rick upholds his end of the bargain, and an exiled Negan starts a solitary life away from Alexandria.
Staying on with Lydia, Daryl, and the Alexandrians means Negan needs to survive Maggie's wrath now that she's returned to Virginia after several years away. Both Maggie and Negan will open a new chapter in the eleventh and final season of The Walking Dead.
"We know there's still Negan to contend with," showrunner Angela Kang said during the Walking Dead Universe Preview Special. "He's just kind of been on this redemption arc, making some progress, and now that she's back, they were never expecting to be in the same community together again. So obviously, that's going to have a big ripple effect into the season to come."