The Walking Dead's Jeffrey Dean Morgan Explains Negan's Decision With Maggie In Season 11 Premiere

jeffrey dean morgan's negan shocked in the walking dead season 11
(Image credit: amc press)

Spoilers below for The Walking Dead's Season 11 premiere, so be warned if you haven't yet watched!

Woo, doggie — or just DogThe Walking Dead kicked off its long-awaited Season 11 with tons of seemingly dormant (and definitely gross) walkers, some updates from our friends in the Commonwealth, and a selection of intense exchanges between Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan and Lauren Cohan's Maggie. The two characters barely interacted following Maggie's return in Season 10, with the guarantee that the new season would bring new layers of discomfort. And it only took ONE episode for Negan to name-drop Glenn and then leave Maggie behind to potentially become walker chow. I mean, gawDAMN.

Considering The Walking Dead's Season 11 promos have given us footage of Maggie that clearly wasn't represented in the premiere, titled "Acheron: Part 1," the cliffhanger was less a question about Maggie surviving, and more a question of Negan's WTF motivations. There's no one better to explain it than Jeffrey Dean Morgan himself, and he talked to TV Line about just how aware of his actions Negan was in that moment when he chose not to help Maggie climb up atop the subway car and away from the walkers below.

I don’t know that he thinks he’s going to get away with it, but… Look, he knows that she’s out to kill him. So he just doesn’t lift a finger to help her, because he knows goddamn well that she wouldn’t lift a finger to help him. If anybody turns their back, he thinks that Maggie’ll put a gun to his head, and that’ll be the end of it. . . . Yeah, he’s keenly aware of [Maggie’s feeling about him]. So the play makes sense. If she makes it, she makes it; if she doesn’t, she doesn’t. He knows there’s going to be repercussions if she makes her way out of it. He’s prepared to deal with them.

To give Negan some credit here, he made a choice during what appeared to be an opportune moment to possibly ensure both his survival and a future without Maggie's seething hatred hanging over his head at every given moment. Knowing that she'll almost definitely survive doesn't quite change that, although it does add a load of backseat-driver criticism to the regrettable decision. He should be trying to give her fewer reasons to skin him in his sleep, but I guess any lesson learned is a good one.

maggie staring negan down on the walking dead season 11

(Image credit: amc press)

And to be honest, Negan's last-minute non-action might not have been SO egregious to Maggie (and presumably soon Daryl and more) had Negan not gone and dropped a G-bomb by referencing Maggie's murdered hubby. Especially since he brought him up by self-referencing the way that he, Negan, so ruthlessly shattered Glenn's skull with Lucille:

Because I am not gonna let you drag me through the mud, filth and slime to put me down like a Glenn was.

Sure, that audacious name-drop earned Negan one of Daryl's fists upside his face, but that's the kind of knife-twisting comment that will no doubt have residual consequences attached. Even on top of whatever happens to him next for leaving Maggie behind. Wouldn't it be something if The Walking Dead went full Seinfeld finale and put Negan back in jail under the Good Samaritan law?

Jeffrey Dean Morgan thinks that Negan's biggest fans will understand his thought process when it comes to leaving Maggie to die. But it's hard to tell if that really makes the move not that villainous, or if it means Negan's biggest fans are down with villainous behavior. It's probably a lot of both, but let us know what you think in the poll below!

The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET, with new episodes streaming a week early through AMC+. While debating Negan's actions, be sure to keep track of all the big shows debuting during the 2021 Fall TV season.

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Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.