Spoilers below for The Walking Dead's official Season 10 finale, "Here's Negan," so be warned!
The extended six episodes from The Walking Dead Season 10 have added up to a grab bag of character development, slow-burn world-building and one-off introductions. One of those temporary characters gave much-needed depth to Daryl's emotional journey, while the other gave much-needed depth to the backstory between Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan and his wife Lucille, as portrayed in the finale by Morgan's real-world wife Hilarie Burton. Thankfully for all, Burton and the Walking Dead creative team brought Lucille to life in a way that far exceeded Robert Kirkman's original comic book character.
With the entire episode dedicated to present-day Negan reflecting on his ups and downs with Lucille both before and during the walker-pocalypse, The Walking Dead really honed in on some very tender and human moments between Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Hilarie Burton, much of which was absent in the source material. Maybe they're not a top-tier TWD couple from this episode alone, but it was convincing nonetheless. So let's break down some of the biggest ways the live-action Walking Dead surpassed its comic predecessor in bringing Lucille to audiences.
Hilarie Burton's Lucille Is A Fully Rounded Character
To be perfectly honest, The Walking Dead TV show wouldn't have had to do THAT much with Lucille to give her more dimensions than she had on the page, where she was largely a silent entity limited to specific moments. Readers learned enough to build opinions on, though detailers were shown almost entirely through Negan as a prism, shading things accordingly. Hilarie Burton's Lucille doesn't suffer any of the comic's limitations, and gets to live, breathe, talk, smoke weed, and geek out on James Bond with all the agency the character deserves.
Because these extra Season 10 installments were the first to be produced with COVID-safe protocols, they're more limited in storytelling tactics than others. Still, I think "Here's Negan" gave audiences a near-perfect amount of Lucille, and was able to justify both Negan's deep affection for her and his tortured memories surrounding her cancer diagnosis and final days. While the comic book did a fine enough job of showing readers how twisted up Negan was over Lucille, the TV show effectively put viewers right in Negan's boots. Lucille deserved such a better life, but at least she was happy some of the time.
Lucille Made Negan Relatable Without Exalting Him
One of the bigger challenges inherent in telling The Walking Dead's ongoing tale, both on TV and in the comics, is convincingly turning Negan from a vulgar, despicable and unforgivable monster back into an actual human being. All without losing any of the elements that made him such a fascinating beast to watch in the first place. While it's entirely possible that comic mastermind Robert Kirkman purposefully limited Lucille's presence in the comic book so that he readers could keep that emotional distance intact, it's been clear for a while that Angela Kang's creative team wanted to allow Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan a more earnest attempt at redemption and compassion. (Even if part of that redemption involved him banging Alpha, and it's now weirdly awesome to think about the connection between her and Lucille's bald heads.)
However, for all that The Walking Dead added layers to its former villain with "Here's Negan," the episode doesn't attempt to whitewash or ignore Negan's sins. Indeed, the TV series keeps the comic version's infidelity intact, revealing he was engaging in an affair the day that Lucille was diagnosed, as well as his violent, bullying nature. But viewers have seen Negan do so many awful things that there wasn't much reason to hammer those points home. If anybody deserves to get hot sauce burning their junk like Jeffrey Dean Morgan recently did, it's Morgan's own murderous character.
Lucille Died By Her Own Accord
In The Walking Dead's comic book, Lucille succumbs peacefully to her cancer in a hospital, which is arguably not the worst way she could have shuffled off this mortal coil. But things go quite differently for Hilarie Burton's character in the TV show, since she never made it to the hospital and was being cared for at home. Once her medicine ran out and it became extremely clear that the end was nigh, Lucille waited until Negan left for an ill-advised scavenging trip and took matters into her own hands, ending her life with a combination of pills and a plastic bag. Not the coolest thing for Negan to arrive home to, to say the least, and arguably one of this show's most powerful deaths for such a limited-use character.
Once Lucille rose up again as a walker in the comic book, Negan was too unsettled to put her down, and instead found a 13-year-old kid to do the dirty work. He's also unable to go through with killing her directly in the TV show, especially after ripping open the plastic bag and seeing her walker-fied visage. Though Negan curiously wrapped his to-be-iconic baseball bat in barb wire before going back into their house, he didn't appear to actually use it on Lucille before burning the entire house down. Probably better for his already fractured psyche that way.
Lucille's Memory Changes Up Negan And Maggie's Eventual Confrontation
The wraparound story for "Here's Negan" is how The Walking Dead quietly hinted at more comic book differences coming in the eleventh and final season debuting on AMC later this year. Carol made it clear that, despite Negan's efforts in helping take down the Whisperers and rebuilding Alexandria, he's not welcome in the community. And it's once he's been banished that he has visions of his leather-wearing persona and starts delving even deeper into his dark past. By the end, Negan appeared to have found closure regarding Lucille, which would normally be a good thing, except it inspired him to return to Alexandria to defend himself. And there was something a little too unhinged about that sparkle in his stare when he locked eyes with Maggie.
Negan was indeed sent out to live freely on his own by Rick in the Walking Dead comic book, where he did indeed come to mental terms with Lucille both as a wife and a weapon. But on the page, Negan is tracked by Dante and Maggie, who eventually paid a visit with the initial purpose of killing him. However, after Maggie heard him beg for death as a release from his loneliness, she decided that having him live with his misery was a punishment worse than death, and she spared him. Clearly the TV show is already setting up something different by having Negan return to Alexandria outright, which will no doubt lead to something unexpected when he and Maggie finally have it out in Season 11.
The Walking Dead is now heading for another months-long hiatus, with Season 11 set to debut on AMC and AMC+ at some point in the summer. The franchise isn't missing a beat, though, with Fear the Walking Dead returning for the back half of its critically acclaimed Season 6 on Sunday, April 11.
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.
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