Should Negan have died in season 8 of The Walking Dead?

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC /

Rick allowed Negan to live at the end of The Walking Dead season 8, but director Greg Nicotero suggested a different ending for the controversial character.

**Spoilers ahead for seasons 8, 9, and 10 of The Walking Dead. Be warned.**

The character of Negan has had something of a problematic redemption arc on The Walking Dead, to say the least.

Over the course of seasons 9 and 10, a redemption arc began for the once brutal dictator. After escaping and realizing that his empire was gone, and so were the Saviors, he returned to Alexandria committed to showing them that he could be a productive member of the community.

He saved Judith in a blizzard. And he was the one who ultimately took Alpha down with some help from Carol. Now he seems committed to helping Lydia deal with her losses and figure out her path forward. But none of that would have been possible if Rick hadn’t told Siddiq to save Negan after Rick cut his throat in the season 8 finale.

Should Rick have killed Negan? Should Maggie have killed him? Director Greg Nicotero recently admitted that even he pushed back against the idea saving Negan when he was directing the season 8 finale.

According to Collider he said:

"“But in other instances, there have been things that I vehemently disagreed with. You know, like in the original comic book when Shane dies in Season 2, Carl’s the one who shoots Shane and when we did the TV show, I remember it wasn’t Carl that shot Shane and I remember having a conversation with Robert Kirkman and saying, ‘Dude, I remember that moment that it was Carl, this little kid who had the gun who ended up shooting Shane.’So there have been times when I kind of pushed back against some things and a lot of times, yeah, it works great and other times, it’s like – you know, like when Rick cut Negan’s throat, I directed that episode and I had said to Scott Gimple, the showrunner, ‘I think Maggie should shoot him. I think Maggie should either kill Negan or shoot Negan or do something because she’s right there.’I said it’s really a hard moment to shoot knowing that Maggie collapses to her knees because Rick spares Negan’s life. And I sort of had pitched this idea to Gimple; I’m like, ‘Why doesn’t Maggie shoot him? Why doesn’t Maggie kill him?’ And, you know, obviously Negan’s character had more of a journey and there was a lot more going on.”"

Negan definitely had a role to play in later seasons of The Walking Dead and it’s still possible for him for him to contribute to the community’s survival, but there’s also a pretty good case to be made that Rick should have allowed him to die or that Maggie should have killed him.

Why Negan Should Have Died

It would have made a lot for sense for Negan to be killed at the end of “All Out War”. Even though Negan does survive in the comics and goes on to be a valuable member of the community, the show has often deviated from the source material by allowing characters who died in the comic to live and killing off characters who lived in the comics.

While the comics are good source material for the show, the show has never shied away from doing its own thing. So the argument that in the comic Negan survives isn’t a strong case for why he deserved to live. Carl’s death was supposed to the impetus that drove Rick to spare Negan’s life, but fans universally condemned the decision to kill Carl. Carl’s legacy should be much more than just Negan being allowed to live. Carl’s legacy is his love for his family and his community.

It’s understandable that a grieving father wanted to try and honor his son’s memory but letting Negan live wasn’t the way to do that. Negan very nearly killed Carl and probably would have had Shiva not intervened. It seems and odd way to memorize Carl by saving the man who tried to kill him. Let’s not forget that the night Carl revealed to Rick that he’d been bitten they were hiding in a sewer as Negan and the Saviors bombed Alexandria.

And last but not least, Negan was a terrible person. His list of crimes is extensive and brutal. He tortured and murdered his own people. He stole from and enslaved other communities. He signed off on the slaughter of hundreds of innocent people. And he coerced women into marrying him just to survive, or to save their loved ones.

No one’s hands are clean in an apocalypse, but Negan’s are irreparably stained with blood.

Keeping Him In Prison Was A Waste Of Resources

Possibly in the beginning of his story keeping Negan in prison made sense because Rick did want to send a message to the Saviors and try to get them to work with the other communities. But they didn’t want that. They continually caused trouble until they eventually either died out or left because they absolutely would not work with the other communities.

A few of them found sanctuary as members of the other communities but most did not. After Rick’s disappearance there was no point in keeping Negan alive. His imprisonment was a burden on a community already struggling to survive.

And wasting resources on someone who didn’t contribute to the society was a mistake.

Justice For Glenn And Abraham

From the beginning The Walking Dead has stuck to the archetypes that are present in all great stories. The hero’s journey, the importance of humanity, and justice are all themes that are represented again and again. Villains ultimately fall, and they are punished for the bad things they do. The Governor eventually died for his evil actions. So did Alpha. But Negan never faced any true punishment for the things he did. He never was held accountable for the murders of Glenn and Abraham. Maggie deserved to be the one to kill Negan.

It would have been interesting to see how the Whisperers arc would have played out without Negan, had he actually been killed at the end of season 8. Carol could have taken down Alpha on her own, which would have been justice for the murder of Henry. It will also be interesting to see how Negan’s development continues.

At some point it would feel like justice if he has enough empathy to realize the suffering he caused and he has to live with the burden of that. But considering the lack of empathy he’s shown in the past he may not be capable of that.

In the apocalypse world of The Walking Dead as in life things aren’t fair, and sometimes bad people triumph. That’s the case with Negan. He shouldn’t have been allowed to live, but he was. Whether or not he will be able to do enough good to make up for the evil he’s done remains to be seen.

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What are your thoughts on Negan? Should he be dead already? Let us know in the comments.