The Walking Dead is one of the most unapologetically gruesome shows out there. After running for nearly a dozen seasons, there’s hardly anything audiences haven’t yet seen. From heinous violence to heartless betrayal, the story has addressed it all – and that’s without even mentioning the flesh-eating zombies.
With that in mind, fans were understandably surprised to learn that AMC actually toned down a scene shot by season 7 director Rosemary Rodriguez. The scene in question, Rodriguez told Undead Walking, takes place in the seventh episode, and has to do with the amount of skin shown on screen.
When Negan (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) gives series protagonist Rick Grimes’ teenage son Carl (Chandler Riggs) a tour of his settlement, he shows off his many wives. Given that Negan is a ruthless sociopath who took advantage of the chaos caused by the apocalypse to create a new society with himself on top, Rodriguez initially tried to make this moment more unsettling.
Specifically, the director wanted Negan’s wives to be dressed in “crazy sexy sh-t.” She then added that, as her production was policed by the execs, that sh-t was eventually watered down to black, semi-skimpy, but still somewhat prudish uniforms: a far cry from her original vision.
“Part of the conversation, for me — which I didn’t quite win, to be honest with you — was what they were going to be wearing,” Rodriguez explained. “Because I like extremes and because I’m not really afraid to dive into whatever it is, even if it’s politically incorrect or evil or dark, I just want to go as far as we can with that.”
Interestingly, her vision would have more closely resembled the scene as it was originally laid out in the comics. The panels, created by comic book artist Robert Kirkman, show the middle-aged Negan introduce Carl to an array of woman clad in lingerie.
“I struggled a little bit because I think one of the lines was about … Carl sort of gawking because he hasn’t really seen women like this before, and so I really wanted a reaction from him in seeing women in really sexy [outfits],” Rodriguez added. “Like really seeing them, their cleavage, and really being a little bit more explicit. Particularly for the show, because it’s so out there and not what we do, that I thought it was an opportunity to do that.”
Although the final version is more politically correct, it’s arguably less realistic. A megalomaniac who has little to no respect for his fellow human beings, The Walking Dead‘s Negan – who we’re told worked as a high school football coach before the apocalypse began – would probably not have cared much about the dignity of his spouses.