The Walking Dead is known primarily for its gory effects and macabre scenery. But the post-apocalyptic sensation has also created some of the most memorable characters on TV in recent years.
Not far down on this list is Negan, the main antagonist of the show. Introduced in the 100th issue of the graphic novel, which functions as a loose basis for the show, Negan has been a focal point of the series for the past couple seasons.
Known for his combination of brutal authoritarian tactics and vulgarly hilariously one-liners, Negan has become somewhat of an enigma in the Walking Dead universe. Fans have seen him berate and dominate the main protagonists like no one else in the series’ history. However, his charm, wit, and commanding presence have made him the type of baddie that fans love to hate, and in some cases, hate to love.
The fifth episode of season eight saw Negan trapped in a trailer with Father Gabriel, a character who has gone from hated heel to beloved fan-favorite over the course of several seasons. Surrounded by zombies and unsure of their fate, the two shared some discussion about their take on the current state of the world. Gabriel, being a priest, used the opportunity to create a type of ‘confessional,’ which was a convenient way to break through the tough-as-nail’s villain’s psyche and dig into his history.
Two things were revealed about Negan in this episode. The first was that he had previously worked with children. Despite his brutal tactics and love of obscene language, Negan seemed to take a liking to Carl, one of the main characters on the show. Negan noted that he believed in raising children properly, so they don’t turn out poorly – though his choice of words was a bit obscener.
The scene also revealed that Negan had a wife, whom he lost when the zombie apocalypse began. The character is known for his love of polygamy, a trait which carried over from the comics. But despite having a number of women who he calls ‘wives’ in his community, he noted that his first wife was the only one he considered real.
Negan revealed he’d treated his wife somewhat poorly, and couldn’t put her out of her misery as she clung to life in her final days. He claimed this was his weakness, and it was one of the only times he’d acknowledged any type of shortcoming for his character.
The episode also delved into Negan’s mentality regarding leadership and civilization. While he acknowledged his love for killing, he noted that it was other people who got his victims killed. He also claimed (in a roundabout way) that his ability to provide resources and order for his people justified his actions.
The show has been known to reveal characters’ backstories episodes or even full seasons after the characters debuted. This creates an interesting conflict for the viewers, as their preconceived notions about a character’s personality may be altered after learning what got them to that point.
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