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:
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.
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.
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:
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?