Why ‘The Walking Dead’ Definitely Shouldn’t Explore Negan’s Backstory

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: AMC)

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is always more than happy to talk about his character in The Walking Dead.

Negan has proven a big hit from the moment he debuted at the end of season six, but the character has proven to be something of a bittersweet addition to the show, coming, as he did, at the point when audiences started to lose interest in the show en masse.

Negan is awesome, but he showed up just in time for The Walking Dead to fall into a bit of a slump.

We’re all crossing our fingers that season eight picks up the pace a bit, and part of the plan for that seems to be to focus more on Negan and to make him a more well-rounded character, rather than just a scary Big Bad that everyone is afraid of (and who gets occasionally mauled by a tiger).

Negan The Walking Dead
Source: AMC

To that end, Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been teasing that we’ll be seeing a little more of Negan’s backstory, learning about who he was before civilization collapsed and he rose to prominence as one of the most terrifying humans left alive.

Said Morgan:

“There is a lot of Negan’s backstory out there. We haven’t filmed any of that, but there are conversations with a few characters where we’ll find out a little more about him. We’ll have some quieter moments this year, some one-on-one interactions where you’ll learn more about where he’s from. Even if you hate Negan, you’re gonna start to understand how he became the man that he is and why he does the things that he does.”

As with everything about Negan, there are good things and bad things to learning more about the character.

It would be interesting to hear a little more about where this man came from, and what he was like before the events of the show. There’s a hint in his backstory that he was once a completely normal guy, and prequel comics have filled in some of the chain of events that turned him into the man he is now (no spoilers, but it’s pretty heartbreaking).

Negan Comic
Source: Image Comics

That said, as intriguing as the character’s backstory may be, it’s a good thing that Morgan hasn’t shot any flashback scenes that might be used to fill in some of the things we don’t know.

That’s an unwritten, but oft ignored rule in media, that prequels are never as much fun as they sound on paper.

Whenever you take an amazing character with a mysterious past, and start filling in the blanks, the character loses a lot of intrigue and mystery.

The classic example is Darth Vader, but popular culture is littered with scary villains that become a lot less interesting the moment they become humanized by a tragic backstory. Sometimes not knowing is better than having all the information about a popular character.

Hopefully The Walking Dead season eight won’t go too far in spoiling everything about how Negan came to be, and future seasons won’t ruin things further.

A little teasing can be a lot of fun, but there’s nothing worse than a show that tips its hand and gives away every nitty-gritty detail about a mysterious character.