Negan is coming. We repeat, Negan is coming. Not since The Governor has there existed a character from The Walking Dead’s source material that fans have wanted to see brought to the TV show as much as Negan and his group of Saviors. Appearing on AMC’s Talking Dead, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman explained how Negan’s arrival on the show is going to mark a major dramatic shift for the series:
The fact that we're getting to that point in the show now where this catalyst is going to be thrown in at some point in the future, I can't say which episode but clearly he's been cast so you guys know he's coming up, that's just going to fundamentally change everything that we're doing in a really interesting, drastic and very scary way.
Negan’s arrival on the series essentially means that all bets are off for the Alexandria survivors. In the graphic novels he made his mark early in his appearances by causing some of the most heart wrenching and dramatic deaths the book has ever delivered; it would seem a safe bet to assume the same will occur in the rapidly escalating Season 6 and beyond. Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick also remarked on the casting of actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan as a stroke of brilliance, referencing the actor’s previous turn as Watchmen character The Comedian to exemplify his ability to inhabit the simultaneously charming and disgusting sensibilities of a comic book villain.
The character has a foul mouth, a twisted sense of humor, a leather jacket, and a barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat that he calls “Lucille.” In his own demented way, Negan has a sense of justice and order, despising sexual violence and punishing those he views as criminals with severe forms of corporal punishment. This elevates him above simple black and white perceptions of good and evil, which is the kind of ambiguity that The Walking Dead already excels at.
Beyond Negan’s own demented sensibilities, the arrival of The Saviors will make for a major shift in the way The Walking Dead handles the space outside of Alexandria. In the comics, The Saviors operate very much like a mafia, providing protection to settlements in exchange for supplies. For the most part, the series has made Alexandria feel like an island in a sea of walkers, but now it looks as though a greater emphasis will be placed on the politics between various settlements that have been set up in the Virginia area – such as the Hilltop Colony -- in a way that has not really been addressed since Woodbury and the prison went to war in Season 3.
We don’t know when, and we don’t know how, but Negan is coming. Having already made his presence felt in the world of AMC’s The Walking Dead, we will just have to wait and see what Jeffery Dean Morgan’s Negan is really like at some point after The Walking Dead returns on February 14, 2016.