Whether you like it or not, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) will finally be introduced in The Walking Dead's Season 6 finale, Something to Fear, airing Sunday, April 3 at 9 PM ET on AMC. The title of this episode was taken directly from the volume of Robert Kirkman's comics where Negan debuted, in the 100th issue. In that story, Negan makes for a shocking arrival, taking the Alexandrians by surprise and choosing one random person to kill, deciding on Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun). Entertainment Weekly caught up with The Walking Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple, who teased that Negan's debut on the show will be both the same, and different from his comics counterpart.
"Let me put it this way: Whatever it is, it's really just all in service to being faithful to the comic book inasmuch as one can. That's always going to be relatively subjective as to what that means. But taking inspiration from the moments of the comic book and playing them out to the ends of what it can be, it's all just like taking that moment from the book and figuring out a way to turn it up to get those feelings that it gave you and those emotions that it gave you that much more. Sometimes we have things from the book that people who read the comics maybe see coming a mile away, and we try to adjust that so that we can give them the same feeling they had when reading the book, which might have been shock or surprise or fear, any of those things. It might be wildly different, but it's all to get the same sort of feelings that you got when you read them. So will it be different? Absolutely. Will it be the same thing? Absolutely. So much of the changes of what we do in the comic have to do with that. Sometimes things happen to completely different characters. It wasn't Lizzie who killed Mika. Carl was the one involved that story when it was Billy and Ben. But I think we still got that same sort of emotion and horror that we got from that moment in the book. So we want to tell the story of the book but from an emotional standpoint first, and that does often create the changes that we do."
It's worth noting that in last week's episode, Twice as Far, the show changed an iconic death from the comics. In the 98th issue, Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) are walking outside the walls alone, when an arrow pierces Abraham's skull and kills him, leading to the Saviors capturing Eugene. In the show, it was Merritt Wever's Denise Cloyd who was killed by Dwight (Austin Amelio), using the crossbow he stole from Daryl (Norman Reedus) earlier this season.
With that being said, is it completely possible that Negan could kill off a different person when he finally arrives in two weeks, with Scott M. Gimple and the writers proving with the Denise/Abraham switch and several other instances, that they're willing to change things up from the comics. Then again, it could all be a ruse to lull fans into a false sense of security, only to have Negan kill off Glenn anyway. While we'll have to wait two weeks to find out for sure, Scott M. Gimple added that Negan is unlike any villain we've seen in pop culture over the past few decades.
"The pat answer is he's unlike anybody we've seen on The Walking Dead, and further, I think he's unlike anyone we've seen. He is a singular character, I think, of the last 10 to 20 years of popular culture. I find him to be a fascinating character. When I was first reading about Negan in the books and talking to [Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman] about it, I was blown away with this character. Through another lens, he's not a bad guy at all in the comic. He does some horrible things, but our people do some horrible things. He is, though, this unrepentant a-hole. He is somebody who is the ultimate bully. The worst kind of bullies in high school, and junior high, and elementary school, and kindergarten, pre-school, and the womb were the bullies that were funny. That was the worst because the bullies that were funny were show people. I'm not going to say show men because there are a lot of girl bullies in school, too. They were funny and yet they were awful. That's such a combination. And Negan is the ultimate version of that bully. And he is an incredible strategist. He can often appear capricious. He is pure id. He is this force of nature. He's charismatic. A lot of villains on shows and comics and everything, it's like, "Oh they're the villain that you love to hate." I think Negan is the villain that you hate to love. But you just love him. And he does some horrible things, but he has a reason for them. He's not a psychopath, and in some ways, he has this bizarre sort of empathy to him. It's bizarre that he actually does have some empathy and he does have a system and he does have, in some ways, even reason. There are a lot of moments that are so terrifying because you can't reason with him because he's made up his mind on something. But he does reason things out. He isn't just some psychopath. He's such an enjoyable character to read. He's been an enjoyable character to write, although a lot of it is Robert's writing from the book. I would just say you haven't seen anything like him on The Walking Dead."
Last week, Steven Yeun himself teased that Negan's introduction may not be exactly the same as in the comics, but he wouldn't divulge any details as to who will live, and who will survive. Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan will be a series regular in Season 7, and it's worth noting that his character is still alive in the comics, so we could be seeing Negan sticking around for the long haul. Do you think Glenn will be killed in the season finale, which was recently extended to a 90-minute episode? Let us know what you think, and stay tuned for more on The Walking Dead.