Hot Take: Negan Was Better When He Was The Real Villain

Little Pig, Little Pig! Let me in!

Remember when Jeffrey Dean Morgan made his debut on The Walking Dead in the season 6 finale? We saw the culmination of that debut in the first episode of season 7.  The fear that Negan elicited that episode as he led the Alexandrians and the viewers on a long journey of suspense and torture. Albeit the violence in that episode was gratuitous – however, it was a character that the story led up to and it paid off. That episode let us know that not only was Negan not one to mess around with, but that Rick and his crew had met someone who could easily outsmart them.  It felt like being stuck between a rock and a hard place, without any way to break free.

The Show Didn’t Allow Him to Be a Bad Guy For Long

Photo Credit: AMC

Since Negan’s introduction, he has gone from the intimidating bad guy to a sympathetic, misguided, and misunderstood anti-hero. As his character developed, it felt like the writers didn’t know what they wanted Negan to be. Is he the big, scary, and imposing villain or is he not a bad guy? Negan strongly opposes sexual assault, yet he forces women to leave their husbands and be his wife – where he has sex with them. He almost kills Carl a couple of times, yet blames Rick for Carl’s death and proclaims that he felt that Carl was the future.

Negan’s Motivation Was Flawed to Begin With

Negan’s whole thing of “people are a resource” also felt out of place. As well as claiming they were the “Saviors”, meanwhile, he kills people from each group and forces them to give him most of their supplies. It felt like both Negan and the writers never knew where they wanted Negan to land on the moral compass scale. I think the biggest moment that pointed out Negan’s hypocrisy was when he told Simon that their methods worked. And Simon rightfully pointed out that they don’t – because they were never designed to work out. They never made sense and that is a big problem with Negan.

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What Happened?

Photo Credit: AMC

Since then, Negan has been reduced, at times; to a broken man. He’s atoned for past sins, seemingly became close to other characters, and has almost become a father figure to Judith? He had a weird relationship with Alpha. While the Here’s Negan episode was emotional, it only sunk this character further away from the big bad that the show had teased in the second half of season six. Of course, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is doing what is given to him. This in no way reflects his acting ability. The fact, though; that Morgan was able to give us such a terrifying and menacing performance as Negan, in the beginning, is what makes me wish that the show wouldn’t have tried as hard to humanize him. Of course, the show refers to the comics where similar redemption arcs are in place. And TWD has always shown that the bad guys all had motivation for going in that direction, but still.

We Still Love JD Morgan

Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

This could just be me. I know that characters must evolve. Perhaps it’s a little hypocritical of me to criticize him. I love characters like Loki and I loved the Joker movie. Somehow, though; what they’ve done with Negan feels more like a disservice than a compliment or an evolution of his character. I wish they had kept him more in tune with how they did in season seven. And added only small amounts of a softer side than they had.

What do you think about Negan’s progression in The Walking Dead?

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