Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Walking Dead's latest episode, titled "The Big Scary U."
Ever since he first showed up in The Walking Dead's Season 6 finale, Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan has been one of TV's most uncomfortably pleasant villains, with his unswayed swagger complemented by his ever-present baseball bat Lucille. Perhaps surprisingly, when "The Big Scary U" showed audiences what went down between the temporarily trapped Negan and Father Gabriel, the episode also gave us our first big look into Negan's past. He shared the true story of Lucille, who was his wife when the zombi-pocalypse started. Not that he was the most doting husband...
The oral history -- which is what I'm sure Negan would prefer his story be called -- came after viewers got to see what went down during Gregory's stint at the Sanctuary, which strengthened Negan's worldview that "people" are still the most important resource, even if public murder still has to factor into it in some way. Skip forward to Negan and Father Gabriel holed up together, which is when the subject of Negan's confession comes up. (Was anybody else slightly creeped out by Father Gabriel's face when he made that declaration?)
Negan's wasn't about a confession at first, but he did share some interesting tidbits about how he'd never killed anyone who didn't deserve it -- we're skeptical -- and that the person leading The Saviors before him "wasn't in charge of shit," and that he allowed people to be weak. Negan claimed whenever he took control of The Saviors, they were a "loose confederation of assholes," which sounds about right. And Gabriel almost got himself killed when directly asking Negan if he had a "first" wife who predated all of his Sanctuary wives, but that didn't happen.
The real meat was later shared through a closed door, meant to resemble an actual confession between a parishoner and a priest. Gabriel confessed to letting his congregation get murdered, which shook something loose in Negan, who finally shared the story about how Lucille was actually his wife back in the day. And that he was not a good husband to her, having cheated on her and lied about things. Negan shared that Lucille was sick when everything went to hell, and that he wasn't strong enough to kill her himself, which he still thinks is his biggest weakness. It didn't exactly draw out sympathy, but at least we can understand part of his psyche a little better, at least as far as why he loves his weapon Lucille so much.
Negan's backstory has often been a topic of discussion amongst fans of The Walking Dead TV show, similarly to how comic readers had placed their own bets on what his life entailed both before and after he found his iconic and indispensable weapon. After the character's history came to light (sans flashback, surprisingly), I'm pretty sure no one was surprised to learn that Negan was an egotistical dickhead before the world ended, too.
On the page, Negan's whole backstory didn't actually show up in The Walking Dead comics themselves, but rather in the Image Comics magazine Image+, where the tale was split into 16 different sections. It was later collected as released as the standalone volume Here's Negan, which actually just hit stores in October. Interestingly, comic fans had to wait nearly four years after Negan's introduction to get this fleeting look at the villain's life before he crossed paths with Rick's group, while TV viewers only had to wait 19 months for it. One wonders how much of that was genuinely a creative decision, and how much of it is because TV audiences haven't been on board with Negan the way that comic readers were/are. We've seen less of him this season than I'd expected, so that might also be connected.
Either way it goes, it'll be interesting to see if and how this newfound knowledge will affect things moving forward, and what other details will come up. Since we still have yet to find out some details that were shared in Here's Negan, such as who Lucille's first victim was, and how Negan's instantly recognizable leather jacket entered the picture.
Will we get to see even more of Negan's past in upcoming Walking Dead episodes? And can we get some more input about Simon's backstory, too? Find out every Sunday night on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what new and returning shows are on the way in the coming months and beyond, head to our fall TV premiere schedule and our 2018 midseason premiere schedule.