Jeffrey Dean Morgan‘s reformed villain Negan had a difficult transition from comic to small-screen when the baseball bat-wielding despot made his debut in The Walking Dead’s Season 6 finale. The AMC ratings hit suffered serious fan backlash following Negan’s brutal killing of Abraham (Micheal Cudlitz) and fan-favorite Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) with ratings during The Savior Arc beginning to fall following the Season 7 premiere.
With the flagship show drawing to a close, The Walking Dead continues to expand into the world of tie-in novels, games, theme park attractions and spin-off shows Fear the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, Tales of the Walking Dead, and at least three new shows including the unlikely pairing of Negan and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) in limited series The Walking Dead: Dead City.
Despite the rough ratings start, Negan has become a popular addition to the ever-expanding cast of characters in the post-apocalyptic show since he started walking his path to redemption. Nowadays, he is less of a douche, still delivers immensely quotable dialogue, and is a tad morally ambivalent but overall, he is a really quite likable guy, if you can overlook his dark past of extortion, face-ironing, mistress-hoarding, and mass-murder. And boy has Negan racked up a high-body count since he was first introduced. Below are some of his best kills.
The majority of the Alexandria Safe-Zone were a bunch of ill-equipped, weak people who only survived through dumb luck and a nearby quarry trapping thousands of walkers. Spencer Monroe (Austin Nichols) was the most spineless of them all. The only surviving member of the Monroe family, Spencer was a spoiled young man with an entitlement complex who undermined Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) at every opportunity and stole food and alcohol from the community’s dwindling supplies. In the Season 7 mid-season finale, over a game of pool with Negan, he tries to pitch the idea of him replacing Rick as the community leader and attempts to convince Negan he’d be an invaluable asset to The Saviors. A man of integrity, Negan is appalled by Spencer’s duplicitous nature and calls him out for his cowardly behavior. This is followed by Negan reprimanding him for having no guts and disemboweling him in the street. Turns out he had guts after all. We’re not saying he had it coming, but…
With every mid or season finale of The Walking Dead, you are guaranteed at least one death. In the Season 7 mid-season finale, we got two. Olivia (Ann Mahony) was a minor, ineffectual character who for some weird reason was left in charge of Alexandria’s cache of dangerous weapons. After Rosita’s (Christian Serratos) failed (from a few feet away) assassination of Negan, he orders another high-ranking member of The Saviors, Arat (Elisabeth Ludlow) to kill someone. Arat picks out poor Olivia and shoots her in the face.
King Ezekiel’s (Khary Payton) CGI-rendered tiger Shiva might be the most ludicrous detail in The Walking Dead’s seventh and eighth seasons. After Rick’s militias waged war on Negan at the beginning of Season 8, both sides suffered heavy losses. King Ezekiel and Carol (Melissa McBride) led The Kingdom to a battle with The Saviors and Ezekiel were operating under the mistaken belief that they had prevailed. Until a straggler they’d missed opened fire, decimating Ezekiel’s entire crew. Ezekiel and Carol survived and fled after a brief skirmish. Surrounded by walkers, Shiva pounced and managed to distract them long enough for the king and queen to escape, but unfortunately for Shiva, she was overrun and eaten alive. Negan may have not eaten Shiva, but he was indirectly responsible.
7. Dr. Emmet Carson
Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is now a prisoner with The Saviors and proving himself useful. Dr. Emmet Carson (R. Keith Harris) works for Negan but looks down on some of his methods. Sherry (Christine Evangelista), Daryl (Norman Reedus), and Dwight (Austin Amelio) hatch a plan to escape and Dr. Emmet gets suspicious. Dwight frames him and Negan beats the doctor while his army watches and secures a confession under duress. He taunts him by taking out the iron to burn the doctor’s face — only to offer a reprieve at the last minute. He then throws him inside an inferno and holds the screaming man as he burns to death. Pretty horrible.
Brandon (Blaine Kern III) was one of these characters that seemed to materialize out of thin air after a few scenes and take on significance. The purpose of Brandon was to serve as a plot point to illustrate how far Negan had come in his redemption arc. Brandon was a Negan groupie and wanted to be exactly like his idol. Negan returned from collecting firewood and Brandon had beaten a young woman and a little boy to death, to prove himself. Negan picked up a rock and reduced Brandon’s head to pulp.
Nobody really wanted to see an underutilized character with potential leave the show. But this is exactly what happened for the mandatory season finale death. Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), still pissed about Abraham, decided to take the fight to The Sanctuary. She enlisted her frenemy Rosita to tag along and help kill Negan. They reconcile over their love for Abraham and Sasha storms the compound while Rosita escapes unharmed. Sasha is reunited with turncoat Eugene, and together they come up with a plan to kill Negan. Sasha wants a gun or a knife to finish the job, but Eugene pushes a sachet of poison under her cell door. In true showman style, Negan plans to deliver Sasha to Alexandria in a coffin. Unaware she has drank the poison and is in the process of dying and reanimating. He opens the door, and she lunches out, biting and scratching. This immobilizes Rick’s group, and they get the upper hand in the fight.
When she took over as showrunner, Angela Kang revitalized the show during its ninth and 10th seasons with the introduction of Alpha (Samantha Morton), cult leader of the zombie-skin-wearing barbaric The Whisperers. The Whisperers lived among the dead and learned to control large herds by disguising themselves in their skin. Negan (with a little help from Carol) infiltrated their group and gained Alpha’s trust, and they briefly became lovers. He assisted The Whisperers in bringing most of the communities to their knees. Negan staged a kidnap of Alpha’s daughter, Lydia, bringing her to a remote location where he claimed he’d tied her up in a shed. Alpha shared a kiss with Negan and made her way to the shed with every intention of murdering Lydia. She opened the door, and only realized at the last second, that it was a ruse and Negan slyly slit her throat, bringing her reanimated, walker head to Carol. Samantha Morton recently reprised her role in Tales of the Walking Dead as Dee/Alpha.
Once he discovers Alpha’s head on a pike and his leader dead, Beta (Ryan Hurst) vows revenge on the communities. The already unhinged second-in-command of The Whisperers spent some quality time with Alpha’s severed head before putting her down and making a new mask from her face. In a former life, Beta was a successful recording artist and plays some of his songs to lure the dead. Leading the horde to Alexandria, he is dismayed to find nobody in and eventually finds the location where they are holed up. In a battle between Negan, Beta, and Daryl, our heroes get the upper hand, blinding Beta and leaving him to be torn apart by walkers.
Abraham’s death may have not proven as unpopular as Glenn’s, but he still had a pretty big fan base and the creators lost a lot of goodwill with fans after his death. Negan’s game had come to an end and his baseball hovered over Abraham’s head. Negan brought it down once, and Abraham got right back up. Negan then beat him to death severely.
The death of Glenn was unnecessarily violent with some of the most graphic content we’d seen on the show until that point. Glenn was a character loved by fans and his brutal departure from the show outraged people. Negan used Lucille to beat him to death and his last words — with his eye hanging out skull crushed — are to his traumatized wife Maggie.