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Why Jeffrey Dean Morgan Doesn't Read The Walking Dead Comics Anymore

negan getting out of cell the walking dead

A lot of times, when something is adapted into a movie or TV show, the stars are good about learning the source material inside and out as a way of informing the performances. The Walking Dead's Jeffrey Dean Morgan had different ideas about setting up his Negan portrayal, in that he apparently stopped reading the comic's issues once Negan showed up for the first time. In his words:

I stopped reading after introduction. Wanted to form my own reactions. And also not fall in love with comic storylines and then not follow.

Taking the flip side of the traditional philosophy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan has chosen not to unwittingly pepper his performance with foreknowledge about what happens in the comic books. Instead, he prefers to take on TV Negan as if there are no reference points, so that he can make the performance his own, as opposed to merely being a puppet barking out Robert Kirkman's comic dialogue verbatim. (Well maybe not strictly verbatim, what with all the F-bombs.)

That's fully understandable, but Morgan's other reason for not reading is even more justifiable, as the TV series continues to divert its narratives away from how Robert Kirkman planned them all out in the source material. Basically, the star hasn't wanted to hit upon a brilliantly crafted Negan storyline on the page, only to be majorly disappointed if the showrunners and writers would take things in a different direction. What Morgan doesn't know can't hurt him or Negan, though The Whisperers can.

For what it's worth, Jeffrey Dean Morgan definitely doesn't plan on avoiding The Walking Dead comics forever, since he does have the entire collection for his avidly reading son. Here's what else the actor said in his Twitter post.

I own them all. Gus reads. I will look at particular scenes if we film... but I'm saving them for when Negan is no more. Or show ends...ha!

Given where Negan is in the comics -- i.e. not dead -- the TV show would probably have to bring about another drastic change in order to take the former big bad out of the picture. With Rick and Carl already gone, the precedent has been set for any and all decisions to be largely feasible, so Negan may not be as immortal as he'd like to sometimes believe.

Even the decision to slot the solitude-embracing Daryl as Negan's pseudo-buddy, a role that the gone-from-TV Rick held in the comics? We obviously don't know if that would ever happen, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan is into that idea.

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Spoilers below for The Walking Dead's midseason finale, so be warned!

Fans who do read the comics are definitely wondering what's going to happen next with Negan, since "Evolution" ended with him presumably leaving his cell behind after it was left unlocked. Will he make a legitimate escape attempt, or has he got something else in mind? Showrunner Angela Kang told me Negan's escape will play out in a way that's "unique to the show." She also said:

But, you know, it is something that will tip off the start of a longer story for Negan as a whole.

So while Jeffrey Dean Morgan might not have the biggest clue where Negan's story is heading, readers have an inkling. As the trailer for the back half of Season 9 showed us, Negan is back to his whistling as he arrives at his "home sweet home." It looked like he was holding another weapon that wasn't Lucille, though, so it'll be interesting to watch him try to track his beloved bat down.

Are you guys ready to see Negan kick some ass again for Season 9? Do you think Jeffrey Dean Morgan should just hurry up and read all his comics now? How fun would a car ride be with Daryl driving and Negan in the backseat?

Find out what happens with the potentially redeemed villain when The Walking Dead returns to AMC for the rest of Season 9 on Sunday, February 10, 2019, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what else will be popping up before that time, head to our fall TV rundown and our midseason premiere schedule

Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.