Now that The Walking Dead has found its way to the Alexandria Safe-Zone, there is the illusion of safety for Rick and the rest of the survivors, which is pretty huge, considering it’s been quite a while since they had even the illusion. But conflicts and turmoil are still on the way, and none of them are bigger and bolder than the maniacal Negan. Though there’s still relatively a lot of comic story to go before Negan arrives, star Andrew Lincoln has raised our expectations, hinting that the danger is far closer than we imagined.

Speaking with THR, Lincoln spoke of the characters’ futures in Alexandria and coyly mentioned the baseball bat-wielding leader of the Saviors.
There are astonishingly brilliant and thrilling characters that I am convinced we would be idiots not to meet in our journey; I would be very surprised if we don't see Negan on the horizon in the not-too-distant future.

Considering Season 5 of The Walking Dead will be completely wrapped up by the end of March, the not-too-distant future is already upon us, and the horizon seems continually within reach. On tonight’s episode, the group settles into Alexandria, presumably with all the smoothness of anything that Rick & Co. accomplishes, and we probably shouldn’t expect Negan to get introduced right as we’re meeting a slew of other new characters.

But let’s not forget that the season finale is a super-sized episode, which means that big things will be happening. And the most important event during this era of the comic series is when Negan and the Saviors enter the narrative. Because TV is sometimes a predictable medium, I’m guessing that Negan will pop up in the final minutes of the episode without any major massacre accompanying him. Of course, he might show up at the beginning of the episode, taking down a bunch of characters to make a statement. Such is the joy of unpredictable psychos.

Lincoln goes on to talk about Season 6 of the show, which definitively lets us know that Negan will be affecting this storyline by the end of this year.
What struck me, that I've always been excited about, is we're coming into the sixth season of this show ... and it's the medieval part of The Walking Dead comic, where you realize that there are these isolated communities but don't really know other ones exist. But they're all building and forming themselves with their own image. And then there's a clash of those communities. That, to me, is really interesting and when it gets really exciting with all the action. It turns into this insane, near-apocalyptic landscape that we've never seen before.

Lincoln’s words about Negan come in direct opposition to comic creator and show writer Robert Kirkman, who said last year that the story’s pacing is such Season 12 could get here before Negan is ever introduced. But he’s kind of a joker that way. And anyway, we’ve been getting some pretty overt Negan-istic clues within the context of the show itself, although non-comic fans might not even realize what’s happening.

For one, we’ve seen Glenn come close to getting his head bashed by a baseball bat, and later in the season, he even picks up a bat himself. Then there was the poster released before the midseason premiere, which featured a pair of smokestacks poking up over the trees, which is almost definitely a reference to the industrial Sanctuary that Negan and his Saviors call home.

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When do you guys think/hope Negan will show up?

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