Warning: Spoilers for The Walking Dead follow...
According to his Fandom page, Negan of The Walking Dead has directly or indirectly caused the death of approximately 200 people (excluding Walkers, plus a dog, boar, and possum). However, the barbed-bat-wielding murderer-turned reluctant ally—played by Jeffrey Dean-Morgan—has been coming around in recent episodes, earning himself something of a redemption arc by saving (and killing) the right people.
Still, it isn’t easy for certain characters, like the recently returned Maggie (Lauren Cohan), to let bygones be bygones. It’s not difficult to understand why: Her husband Glenn suffered a particularly brutal execution at the hands of Negan, and his trail of misery extends far beyond the bodycount listed above.
With The Walking Dead returning to AMC on Sunday night with six new episodes to finish out the show’s 10th season, now is a good time to revisit Negan’s greatest hits (sorry Glenn). Check out our list below and use the link at the bottom of this page to subscribe to Sling Blue with AMC. To watch all-new episodes of The Walking Dead early and commercial free, be sure to add AMC+ to your Sling package today!
To understand why Negan is so despised by Maggie, we have to take a trip back to the season 7 premiere when he and his trusted companion Lucille—the aforementioned barbed-bat named after his beloved dead wife—bashed in the skull of Maggie’s husband (and fan favorite) Glenn. It was as tragic as it was gross.
From there, he kept the Alexandria community tormented as he and his crew, the Saviors, shook them down for resources in exchange for protection from...you know. This is Negan at his worst: Torturing Daryl, branding rule-breakers and deserters, and taking the mattresses from an entire town, only to burn them.
So yeah, pretty bad dude. However, after a couple of setbacks, Rick and his Militia stage a successful coup to end Negan’s control over the Saviors. But for...reasons, Rick spares Negan’s life, instead sentencing him to spend his days imprisoned. Maggie was none too happy about this decision, and she goes to kill Negan in his cell, but after realizing that he hopes to be put out of his misery, she spares his life. Having now reconnected with her old friends after six years, you can imagine Maggie’s surprise to see Negan mingling amongst them.
Negan’s gradual redemption begins with his connection to Rick’s daughter Judith, who he appears to forge a genuine connection with while in his cell. Their bond is further tightened after he saves her (and a dog) when they run off in a blizzard.
Still, kids will bring out the best in us and Negan doesn’t fully earn the trust of the larger group until he saves Aaron and Lydia, then goes undercover with the Whisperers to take out their leader Alpha. But the moment that Negan redeems himself to us—if he even can, (RIP Glenn, #NeverForget)—is, ironically, when he kills Brandon. Assuming that a free Negan will go back to his sinister ways, Brandon tries to impress him by taking out a mother and her son. Negan pays him pack in kind and it’s a fitting redemption, at least for now: the last episode of the season is titled “Here’s Negan” and it will adapt a spin-off story from the original The Walking Dead comic. While showrunner Angela Kang promises, “there’s a lot in our adaptation that will be original to the show,” the stand-alone episode will give us a glimpse into Negan’s pre-apocalypse life with the original Lucile (played by Jeffrey Dean-Morgan’s real-life wife Hilarie Burton) along with his rise to power with the Saviors. So even if Negan remains redeemed in the show’s forthcoming final season, we’ll get one last chance to see the brutal bastard with the bat.
New episodes of The Walking Dead return Sunday, Feb. 28 at 9pm ET on AMC.