Fans of The Walking Dead, both on and off of this website, have spent months theorizing and hypothesizing where the series is heading in Season 5 and beyond. Tonight’s excellent season premiere sent the Internet into a tizzy several times, and one of the biggest questions people are asking involves the possible inclusion of the Walking Dead comics’ biggest and baddest villain, Negan. He appears to show up in a flashback scene at the end of the episode, but I’m sorry to have to break it to you guys: that wasn’t Negan.
That’s what creator Robert Kirkman has to say about it, as you can read below.
In the pre-credits final scene, as Gareth is telling his mother that everything is okay, a hulking figure steps from the shadows and into more shadows and says, “No, it’s not,” as he gets violent with his club. Now, because the scene is shot in almost complete darkness, you can’t really see what the guy looks like; only that he has slicked-back black hair and muscles. Both of those qualifiers certainly describe Negan, but this guy also had face tattoos.
You might remember seeing the guy earlier in the episode who leaped hysterically out of a Terminus boxcar, only to immediately get mauled by zombies. He was one of the people who took over Terminus for that temporary period before the cattle became the butchers. It’s the same guy in the flashback, as also confirmed by effects master Greg Nicotero on Talking Dead following the premiere.
We do that know Negan is coming, as showrunner Scott Gimple is planning on bringing the vicious murderer to audiences at some point during the series' run. But as far as we know, they’re still in the process of finding an actor for the role. The Strain star Kevin Durand recently shared that The Walking Dead reached out to him to see if he’d be interested in taking the part. Not being familiar with the comic, he didn’t seem particularly enthused about it, though he would be excellent in the role.
Personally, if Gimple and Kirkman are as confident in this season’s effectiveness as they have been post-Season 4, I see no reason to rush into Negan’s storyline midseason. Like the Governor, he’s a character whose fear factor is directly tied to his lack of morals, but Negan is an absolute maniac, whereas the Governor knew his manners. He'll be a superb character to root against, but let’s get all the way through the Terminus storyline before heading to that epic story arc. And anyway, Morgan!