Maggie and Negan are unlikely to be friends in The Walking Dead: Dead City, but a huge question mark hangs over whether Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s ex-villain might actually slip into old habits. Few characters evolved quite as drastically as Negan in The Walking Dead. The character began as a murderous, baseball bat-swinging antagonist, then gradually morphed into a sympathetic family man who felt genuine remorse for past sins. By the end of The Walking Dead, Negan was essentially a hero, begrudgingly accepted by the survivors he once found glee in tormenting, and this set up The Walking Dead: Dead City.
This Walking Dead spinoff sees Negan and Maggie travel to New York to rescue the latter’s son, Hershel. Broadly speaking, this premise makes sense. Negan and Maggie became an unlikely two-person strike force in The Walking Dead season 11, and Negan still owes Hershel for squishing his father’s head. However, Jeffrey Dean Morgan claims Negan will return to “old habits” in The Walking Dead: Dead City, and a behind-the-scenes video shows him fighting brutally with Maggie. This seems a far cry from the Negan in The Walking Dead‘s series finale, and more akin to Negan from season 7.
Annie’s Death Could Bring Back Bad Negan
If Negan’s darker streak does return in The Walking Dead: Dead City, the spinoff must justify this character reversal. Throughout The Walking Dead‘s final seasons, Negan worked tirelessly to find redemption and earn respect from fellow survivors, culminating in an emotional scene that found a vulnerable, kneeling Negan in the same terrifying position he once forced Glenn into. If Negan merely slides back into villainous ways without a proper explanation, that would be a hugely disappointing way for The Walking Dead: Dead City to retcon his development. Instead, Negan needs a reason to break bad again, and Annie’s death is the obvious solution.
In the Walking Dead series finale ending, Negan and Annie had found a quiet home on the outskirts of the protagonist communities, and were, presumably, raising their child following the one-year time skip. Even if Negan later decided to help Maggie rescue Hershel in New York, his ending left no reason to revert to the wicked ways of seasons past. If Annie died between The Walking Dead‘s finale and the spinoff, however, Negan’s personality walk-back would make perfect sense. It was, after all, the death of previous wife Lucille that turned Negan bad in the first place. The death of Annie could tip him over the edge once again.
Annie’s Death Could Complete Negan’s Walking Dead Redemption
By the finale of The Walking Dead, Negan’s redemption appeared complete. All signs of villainy had been expunged, the Commonwealth gave him a taste of his own medicine, and Maggie came as close to forgiving Negan as she physically could without dry-heaving. While there may appear to be no additional steps on Negan’s atonement journey, however, overcoming Annie’s death in The Walking Dead: Dead City could be the final test of his transformation.
If The Walking Dead: Dead City sees Negan resume old habits in response to Annie’s death, but then somehow finds a way to move past that without taking his rage out on innocent people’s heads, his journey would be truly complete. Negan would have proved to himself, and to Maggie, that even losing another wife will not break him the way it did with Lucille. There would definitively be no way back for Negan as a Walking Dead villain at that point. Without a strong angle to explain Negan reverting to his sinister self, however, The Walking Dead: Dead City would just be trampling over his hard-earned character journey.
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