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Has Negan Delivered in The Walking Dead Season Seven?

December 12, 2016 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

This first half of The Walking Dead‘s Season 7 has been pretty memorable for a number of reasons. At the end of Season 6 we were left with the mystery of who was on the receiving end of Lucille’s fury and introduced to the newest bad guy, Negan.

Season 7 answered a lot of questions and introduced a new dynamic to the show, including new characters like Ezekiel. The Walking Dead also caught some flack for it’s inconsistent storytelling, lack of forward progression, and padding episodes.

Not surprisingly, the main attraction and point of conversation has centered on Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s portrayal of Negan.

In the comics, like the show, Negan is the leader of The Saviors and uses his authority and resources to subjugate other communities, like the Hilltop, The Kingdom, and the Alexandria Safe-Zone, into paying tribute in exchange for protection against the walkers

“But like I said… I’m broken. That’s not living. I can’t feel things. No matter how hard I try. Not after what I lost. I’m dead to this world. You? Look at you… you’re just pretending. You think it makes you strong to pretend emotions aren’t real. That you’re all animals and you value strength above all else. It’s all a game, Alpha… and you’re not fucking winning.”

—Negan from the comics

In the comic, Negan is savage, yet has a strange charisma about him. He lives by his own code of honor and presents a commanding counterpoint to Rick. When it comes to the TV series, Morgan’s portrayal has been received with split reactions. He revealed one fan reaction he had to deal with after Negan was introduced on the show:

“I was out with Norman the other day. We drove our motorcycles to get a coffee somewhere and we’re sitting outside drinking our coffee and some lady—and she’s probably 70-years-old—comes up and she just looks at me and goes, ‘You asshole.’ And of course Norman falls on the ground laughing. And she’s like [to Norman], ‘Oh, I love you.’ And then she looks at me again with just hate in her eyes and she goes, ‘I wanna know where you live.’ And he starts telling her! I think I have to prepare myself for kind-of more of that fan reaction.”

There’s no doubt that Morgan has taken great relish in his version of Negan. He spoke about the idea of Negan being The Walking Dead‘s protagonist instead of its villain, arguing that his character would be considered to be “so funny and sweet” if he had been cast as the hero.

He does have a point, when you compare his actions to some of RIck’s over the series.

Speaking to ABC News, Morgan was asked about how his character might have been viewed if they had started with Negan as its central character. “Negan would be our hero, and no-one would be angry or scared of Negan right now,” Morgan considered. “Instead, people would think: ‘Wow, what a guy. Look at how he keeps everyone alive. He’s so funny, he’s so sweet. I love his baseball bat!”

It’s always about perspective. But at the end of the day, it’s about how audiences react to what they’re shown. How do you grade Morgan’s Negan in The Walking Dead so far?