Negan is a violent, foul-mouthed hate-tornado who's better suited to pay cable than the more family friendly AMC. So how do The Walking Dead showrunners plan to keep both the network and fans happy in bringing this bigger-than-life presence to the small screen? Turns out, there is already an initiative in place. But the full logistics of it have not been fully confirmed for air just yet.
As played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Negan won't appear until The Walking Dead Season 6 finale, before becoming a series regular in The Walking Dead Season 7. But fans already know he's on the way. And they couldn't be more excited about his arrival. The finale is said to be a heartbreaking one, which left most of the cast upset after they read the script. And most speculate the cause of this tragedy will be Negan himself.
Some fans have been questioning just how AMC and the show's creators will realistically bring Negan's leather-jacket-clad persona to life without losing all the things that make him such an iconic presence in the comic books. Especially when it comes to his use of foul language and his tendency to drop F-bombs. The guy is a lunatic. And with that comes some very bad, not ready for Prime Time behavior. Nearly every word that comes out of his mouth is a curse. Back in December, Jeffrey Dean Morgan had this to say about portraying the R-rated comic book character in the PG-13 world of The Walking Dead.
"Look, it's a speed bump. I'm not going to say it's an issue because they're working on it. We're going to push AMC - the plan is to push them as far as they can because it's who Negan is. He uses some colorful language. And I use some colorful language. And reading the comic, it's important. So we'll see where that lands. It's our intention that this character is going to leap off the pages of the comic book. It's very important that that's who it is. Some of the characters there's much more leeway, but Negan is a guy that you want to keep as true as possible, and that would be how I want to play him as well."
FX recently surprised everyone when it allowed the use of 'Mother F*cker' on a prime time episode of The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. And AMC is under no regulations by the FCC, as a cable channel, to ban such language itself. Though, the network has its own internal policy about swearing, and doesn't plan to break it. Enter, the alternate cut.
The Walking Dead is no stranger to utilizing alternate scenes. In The Walking Dead Season 4 finale, Rick's final line as he is locked away in the Terminus train car is, "They're screwing with the wrong people." When this season finally arrived on Blu-ray, fans were met with a slightly altered scene that had Rick instead saying "They're f*cking with the wrong people." It sounds like this is the plan for Negan. At least for the time being. Robert Kirkman, Comic creator, exec producer, had this to say about Negan's use of foul language and how it will be handled in The Walking Dead Season 6.
"I would say that there are certain words that try as I might, we are not allowed to say on AMC, and those are certain words that Negan likes to say. So those words are going to be filmed, and people are going to be able to get those words, but there are definitely some broadcast limitations that we're going to have to deal with. We're sorting that out now, but I will say that, worst-case scenario, the extras will be extra-special on Blu-ray. I mean, we're trying to explore some other more interesting options, but that's the bare minimum of what we'll be doing."
Showrunner Scott M. Gimple doesn't want fans to think that alternate scenes on the Blu-ray are the only option for the time being. The logistics of Negan's on-screen persona are still in the planning stages as The Walking Dead Season 6 finale is continuing to be tweaked. He explains.
"I'm still finishing up season 6, so there are still aspects of these questions that I'm figuring out. But I will say that my goal is for, at the very least, in some way - might not be all the time, and it might not even be directly through your TV box - that people will be able to get full-octane Negan. I'm still playing around with it, but I will say I do have the material two ways right now. I'll see what I can do with it. One way or another I want people to see full-octane Negan. Will I be able to shoot every scene like that? Probably not, but to tell you the truth, I think we will get as close to the version of full-octane Negan as we can through some version of the show or another."
Director and executive producer Greg Nicotero hints that all of Negan's scenes are being shot twice. Once with the foul language. And another with the more tame, AMC-apporaved dialogue. About shooting alternative scenes, which will be seen on the Blu-ray later, he says this.
"That would be a very good guess. We've talked about that. Even back when Michael Cudlitz was cast as Abraham we were like, 'Damn, how are we going to deal with Abraham's dialogue?' And I think Gimple went, 'Yeah, Abraham's dialogue is fine. It's Negan that we're going to have problems with because every other word of Negan's is f-.' There is a rhythm to it that even in some of the takes that we did. What I affectionately call the 'f- takes' have a completely different rhythm to them and a completely different feel. So while editing it, I was very careful to make sure that I preserved a lot of the performance without getting myself into trouble with the profanity."
So, as Negan makes his big entrance on the show, we can expected a slightly watered down version to appear on AMC. But fans who really want to experience full-octane Negan will be able to do so when the Blu-ray and DVD debut just a few short months later. Are you disappointed that you'll have to wait to experience classic Negan? Or will it be jarring to hear a character say so much foul language when we haven't ever really heard that on the show before to begin with? Sound off in the comments below.