We all know Negan as the ruthless and sadistic leader of the Saviors on The Walking Dead? But how did he get that way? What was his life like before?
Rick Grimes and his group have met a lot of interesting people on The Walking Dead. Surviving a zombie apocalypse is hard though. By the time we meet these people, they’re usually already scarred and changed from prior events. But who were they before? What exactly happened to make them the people they are now?
One person who’s backstory we don’t know a lot about is Negan. When we meet him, he’s the brilliant and ruthless leader of the Saviors. How did he get that position, though? What was his job in the real world?
Prior to Negan, the only real recurring villain on The Walking Dead was the Governor. Thanks to novels like Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga, we actually do know quite a bit about his previous life. He was a meek, mild-mannered man, who only succumbed to his carnal instincts after suffering alone in the wild.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan on Negan’s Past
So what about Negan then? First, what does the actor who plays him think? EW talked to Jeffrey Dean Morgan to get his thoughts:
“I think he was probably a little bit of an a–hole and a little bit of a bully,” says Morgan of pre-apocalypse Negan. “I don’t think this all just came about after the apocalypse. It would be fun to do a prequel to who Negan was. I know [creator Robert Kirkman] has been writing this before-we-know-Negan graphic novel. He’s releasing little pieces of it now.”
“I think he has always been the dick you went to high school with,” says the actor. “But he also has a razor sharp sense of humor, which goes hand-in-hand with this sort of bullying he does — it’s all with a sharp wit. Here’s the thing with the character: He’s going to make you laugh. Even through the worst of it, you will find yourself smiling against your will. And I think that’s exactly how he was as a kid and through high school and stuff. That’s how we’re playing him, anyway. That’s how I’m going at it. He didn’t turn into this in one day. He’s been working at it for a while.”
The “before-we-know-Negan” graphic novel Morgan is talking about is called Here’s Negan! It’s a 48-page origin story for Negan, released four pages at a time. Since April, the small chapters have appeared in the Image+ preview magazine each month.
So far we’ve actually learned a decent amount about his life before the Saviors. He was a high school coach who worried about not being “cool” enough for his students. When his wife is diagnosed with cancer, his life turns upside-down. He breaks off his relationship with his mistress to be by his wife’s side. As he sits by her in the hospital, he learns that everyone is being evacuated. Negan refuses to leave his wife’s side and barricades them in the room. When his wife turns and falls from the bed in an attempt to attack him, he finally calls her by her name: Lucille. He finally bids her farewell and sets out to escape the hospital.
That’s all we’ve learned so far. What do you think Negan was like before The Walking Dead?