Negan is one of the most popular villains in The Walking Dead canon, there’s no doubt about that. And you can’t deny that Jeffrey Dean Morgan was the best guy to bring him to life in the TV show (even though Matthew Lillard would have been interesting in the role). That said, season 7 and season 8 are probably the most divisive years of the series, with many criticizing the over-emphasis on the character and how over-the-top he was.
It seems that Negan himself agrees with these criticisms somewhat. During an appearance at Walker Stalker Con Atlanta, Morgan admitted that the villain was “very one-dimensional” for his first two seasons. The actor feels that he wasn’t able to explore too many new facets to the character after he was introduced in the final scene of season 6. This is why he’s “really grateful” that season 10 is going deeper into who Negan is than ever before.
“I thought the first couple of years that we knew Negan was very one-dimensional. To me, when Negan came out of the RV for the first time, we didn’t learn anything about him for two years, three years. And that was hard. I felt like everything that I said coming out of that RV is sort of what I said for the next two years, and never shifted. I think with the introduction of Judith, and that relationship, we got to see a little different side of him.”
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Inspired by Negan’s connection with Carl in the comics, the former villain and Judith have an unlikely bond which has been developing since season 9. In perhaps his first heroic act on the show, Negan rescued the girl from being caught in the blizzard in the ninth season finale, when he could’ve fled and saved his own skin. Since then, he’s been allowed greater freedom in Alexandria and is no longer confined to the cell he’s been living in for the past eight years.
Morgan has previously described the character in season 10 as a “new Negan” and not quite the same man fans have known before now. We’ve already got a feel for this in the first couple of episodes, but showrunner Angela Kang has promised there’s a lot more of his dimensions to explored yet on The Walking Dead.