A Different (Likable?) Negan & Other Big Changes Headed to The Walking Dead

It’s a time of transition for The Walking Dead in more ways than one. In fact, in a revealing interview with TVLine, new showrunner Angela Kang promises that season nine will be “a new chapter” for Rick Grimes and the gang — and from the sound of it, that might include a highly unexpected twist regarding big bad villain Negan. 

As much as we can’t imagine it being possible, it appears there is a chance we may even (*gulp*) come to like or respect TWD’s resident bad guy. (Warning: Spoilers for last season ahead.)

More: Finally, the Walking Dead Season 9 Spoiler We Need

Take a minute to process that if you need to. After all, you’re probably still recovering from last season’s most shocking turn of events: the loss of Rick’s son, Carl. Because this proved to be a departure from the graphic novels that inspired the show, everyone was at a bit of a loss as to what would become of Negan. 

Although TWD stayed true to the arc involving Rick imprisoning his archnemesis, the future gets fuzzy from that point. Why? Well, in the books, Carl and Negan become uniquely bonded, with the young man visiting the villain for frequent conversations and a strange sort of companionship. 

It would stand to reason that TWD’s writers are going to have to figure out a way to fill Negan’s imprisonment with something other than the original dialogue. According to Kang, the show ran with the notion of Negan’s newfound isolation. 

“That’s part of the story — [incarceration] being mind-numbingly boring, especially for someone like Negan who’s used to being in a position of leadership,” Kang told TVLine. “What does that do to him? The community thinks of him as sort of the monster in the basement.” 

More: The Walking Dead Is Ending, & the Creator Knows How

When TVLine jokes that all fans essentially hold that viewpoint of Negan, Kang dropped an intriguing clue. “But I think he’ll surprise fans,” she said, laughing. 

Hmm, hold up. Are we picking up what Kang is putting down? Is the implication that, since we think of him as the monster in the basement, Negan could make us consider him in a new light? 

Only time will tell, and, thankfully, it’s flying by. Although, truth be told, we probably won’t be too stoked when October does roll around — and with it the premiere of what will be Andrew Lincoln’s last season as Rick Grimes. 

But since we’re in total denial about his departure, we’re choosing to focus on other emerging facts about the new season. Like, for example, that Maggie (Lauren Cohan) will still play a central part in what’s to come. 

“When we start off, life is good for Maggie. But Negan still lives in her mind, and [the fact that Glenn’s murderer wasn’t put down] weighs on her. So she has to figure out what she has to do to set that right for herself,” revealed Kang. 

When Rick made the decision to spare Negan, he did so in honor of the future that Carl envisioned… one in which people retained their humanity no matter what. Now that he’s committed to that vision, Rick will be working to build a peaceful civilization. 

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This is TWD, though, and you know nothing comes easy. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kang points out that the survivors are dealing with a new big bad — depletion. The series will return after a time jump, and the apocalypse has taken its toll on resources. 

“We’ll explore what happened as man-made objects and structures break down,” Kang told EW. “Infrastructure like roads and bridges are changing and crumbling. And we’ll also explore what happens as resources are getting low.” 

That includes Michonne leading survivors on horseback, carriages instead of cars and more primal weaponry. “There’s a real grittiness to it that I think will be fun and fresh for the viewers,” Kang teased. 

And can we just say, sign us up! Michonne kicking ass atop a horse while Rick tears down a road illuminated only by a flickering oil lamp? We’re all in. 

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