War has arrived on The Walking Dead, and one of the belligerents is the scarf-wearing, bat-swinging warlord known as Negan. Played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the apocalyptic sociopath has become the insurmountable force that has devastated Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his tight-knit band of survivors all throughout Season 7. It takes a lot to reduce someone like Daryl (Norman Reedus) to a miserable pile of meat, but Negan managed to do just that. So in Season 8, it’s time the show took him down.
Comic readers know that Negan remains alive and well long after the war, which ended when Negan and the Saviors came to a “truce” with Alexandria, Hilltop, and the Kingdom. Heck, Negan manages to stay breathing through the next major war against the Whisperers, though nothing felt as big as the “All Out War” where alliances had to be formed to bring an end to the Saviors.
Because the AMC drama has departed plenty of times from the comic book source material, it’s not unreasonable to think that Negan’s time is limited on the show. Although watching an imprisoned Negan giving advice to Carl (Chandler Riggs) would be a touching moment (however bizarre), there doesn’t seem to be room for that sort of drama in a series critics and fans agree there’s just too much talking and build-up, which often climax into nothing. The finale to Season 7 was a rare instance of The Walking Dead assuring viewers: “Fuck yeah, we’re going somewhere.” It’d be a disappointment if all that energy was wasted in sparing Negan, who has shown no reason he deserves mercy in a lawless world.
In the TV show, Negan is written like an intolerable, sexually sadistic heel straight out of an old school pro wrestling league. That is enticing for TV viewers who are eager to see Negan get what he deserves. But in the kooky world of pro wrestling, it works if characters live to fight another day. In the equally-scripted world of dramatic TV, characters without that kind of focus overstay their welcome.
The Walking Dead will return for Season 8 this fall.