Robert Kirkman Explains Why He Changed His Mind About Maggie Killing Negan On ‘The Walking Dead’

Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s The Walking Dead character, Negan, continues to live on in the AMC television show. There is no reason to believe he will not continue to survive, especially as Jeffrey Dean Morgan is increasingly the face of the most popular television franchise on cable. However, had Negan been killed off in Robert Kirkman’s comic-book, his open-ended existence on the television show may not have been as logical. If Maggie had killed Negan in the comics — as Robert Kirkman had originally envisioned — fans of the series, and especially of the comics, might have had a harder time swallowing Negan’s redemption arc.

It very nearly came to pass, too, that Maggie would shoot and kill Negan, finally avenging her husband Glenn’s murder at the hands of Negan and his baseball bat, Lucille. In “Negan Lives,” a special stand-alone issue of Robert Kirkman’s comic arriving a year after he ended the comic series, Kirkman explains why he did not kill off Negan after he wrote the issue and sent it off to his illustrator, Charlie Adlard.

Adlard responded the Negan’s death with an email that convinced Kirkman to change his mind. At the end of the “Negan Lives” issue, Kirkman reveals the contents of the email. In the email, Adlard tells Kirkman him that he felt “unconvinced” by Maggie’s decision to shoot and kill Negan, that it “feels a bit forced”:

As I said, the more I got to know Negan — especially over these last few years — the more I wished he’d stayed around till the end. I wish redemption would’ve worked for him. This is absolutely no criticism of you at all, but more a criticism of western [at least] literature/entertainment, where, because the majority of us find the death penalty — therefore an eye for an eye adage — abhorrent, we carry it out in fantasy. Hardly any western villain gets away with not dying at the end. We, as an audience, always demand the ultimate punishment for our fantasy bad guys. It’s a shame we didn’t break the mould with Negan… the baddest of bad guys, but very far down the road to redemption and forgiveness, who pays the usual ultimate price — death. Imagine, if he lived, what we could say about our society?

That’s interesting, and it tracks some of what Carl said before his death, words that inspired Rick to spare Negan’s life. In a scene that mirrors the comics, Maggie also nearly had an opportunity to kill Negan in jail, but then Rick “died” and all hell broke loose. With Maggie coming back next season (whenever that is), it will be very interesting to see how well she and Negan play together.

In the meantime, “Negan Lives” is on comic-book stores now — and only in comic-book stores, because Kirkman wrote it and is given it away to comic-book store to kickstart their business in the wake of the pandemic. The issue covers Negan’s whereabouts in the comics between the moment Maggie decided to spare his life in Issue #174 and the final issue, #193. Because Kirkman had originally planned to kill him off, and because he had already mapped out the comic to the end by then, he didn’t want to introduce any more Negan stories. This covers that period for Negan, and while it does not advance Negan’s story beyond Issue #193, Kirkman is not completely ruling out that possibility.

“I’ll never say never,” Kirkman said.

In the meantime, The Walking Dead season finale is expected to air sometime this fall, along with the new spin-off series The World Beyond.

Source: The Insider