The TV show The Walking Dead (TWD) has been on since 2010. It chronicles the lives of a group of people surviving a zombie apocalypse. This group, led by Andrew Lincoln’s ‘Rick’ has, for 6 seasons, been through it all. The characters have had to see loved ones die at the hands of zombies and humans for that matter. They have loved, and they have lost. For the most part TWD is a decent show but during season 5 and into the first 8 episodes of season 6 the show was on a decline.
The first 8 episodes of season 6 had some calling for the cancellation of the show. The stories were becoming stagnant and the usual water cooler talk went from ‘Wow, did you see last night’s episode?’ to ‘That was pretty boring!’
Now before anyone worries, I am quite aware ‘Negan’ is a character portrayed by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and not a real person, but we will get to that in a moment.
The back half (or last 8 episodes) of season 6 started with a bang. We were back to entertaining television on TWD. Early into those episodes we started hearing about a character named Negan. We didn’t see him but we kept hearing about him. Rick and his group were pitted as adversaries against him and his group ‘The Saviours’. Rick’s group attacked Negan’s compound and killed many of his men but Negan avoided being captured or killed. It wasn’t until the Season 6 finale that we saw the true strength of this new character.
While Rick’s group was on a supply run for one of the main characters who desperately needed medicine, Negan’s crew cut off the road at virtually every turn, making it impossible for them to reach their destination. Rick’s group was captured by Negan’s and this new villain instantly wanted retribution for the attack on his people.
In the Season 6 finale Negan created a level of terror that The Walking Dead had never seen. I submit that while these characters had faced a room full of zombies they had never encountered such a dangerous foe.
Season 6 ended on a cliff hanger. Remember those? Negan was poised to kill one of Rick’s friends with a barbed-wired baseball bat, affectionately called Lucille by Negan. He engaged in a maniacal game of eeny-meeny-miny-moe to decide who would be his victim. The audience had to wait 7 months to discover the victim’s identity.
While I am not making the argument that TWD is the best show on television, I do believe that Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s ‘Negan’ is perhaps one of television’s most entertaining characters and he could do what no other actor on the show has done in its 6 seasons: be nominated for an acting Emmy.
This character is the ultimate villain. He is sadistic, psychotic and at times very entertaining. The start of the seventh season saw the show earn its highest ratings ever as people tuned in to see who would lose their life at the hands of Negan. Since the premiere we have seen the show slump back into the same decline we saw at the beginning of Season 6. I find the writing on the show inconsistent but they seem to save the best lines and material for Negan and Mr. Morgan blows it out of the park.
Now you may have noticed earlier that I didn’t list Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the fascinating one, because quite frankly he isn’t the one I find fascinating. I don’t mean any disrespect by saying that. I think he’s a great actor. He was very good in roles in P.S. I Love You, The Losers, and The Watchmen – and of course my female friends would smack me if I didn’t mention Grey’s Anatomy! He was even on an episode of Monk! (Such an underrated show). He’s a very good actor but it’s this character of Negan that deserves the credit. With a nod to the writers, Negan provided a much needed shot of excitement into this show.
There are those who would love to see Negan get his comeuppance and be killed but then what? We go back to how it was? No thanks. As evil and sadistic as this character is the show needs him and so do the fans.
Negan is a cruel, complex character that came along and breathed new life into a show that desperately needed it. We no longer tune in to see what Rick’s group will do but to see what Negan will do.
The Walking Dead used to be a show about surviving the zombie apocalypse but now it’s a show about surviving Negan.
Negan is the most interesting character on television. His portrayer Jeffrey Dean Morgan has landed, perhaps, the role of his career and has rejuvenated my interest in a show I was rapidly losing interest in.
There are the reasons why I find Negan fascinating.