In season 6 of The Walking Dead, Negan was the boogeyman. No matter who Rick’s group met or interacted with, Negan would usually be mentioned in some form. In the season 6 finale, we finally met Negan and he was everything that had been promised. Jeffrey Dean Morgan brings the exact right type of energy to Negan, being both charismatic and terrifying. But as we’ve seen more of Negan, a problem has begun to emerge with The Walking Dead‘s resident villain. By being too sadistic, too simplistic, and entirely too chatty, Negan has become the worst part of The Walking Dead season 7.
Lot of Bark, Lot of Bite, No Character
Jeffrey Dean Morgan remains as excellent at playing Negan in season 7 as he was in season 6. The only reason Negan is not an entire disappointment as a character is because of Jeffrey Dean Morgan‘s performance. The veteran actor elevates Negan to something special. In reality, everything else surrounding the performance doesn’t support him. Negan simply isn’t that interesting as a character.
Before Negan, the biggest baddie on The Walking Dead was The Governor. While the consensus among comic fans seems to be that Negan is a far superior villain to The Governor, that’s not the case on the show. While The Walking Dead arrived at the point with the Governor where he was eventually riding a tank into battle, the show started off slow with its previous big villain.
You could argue, quite successfully, that The Walking Dead took a little bit too much time developing The Governor. Still, by the time that The Governor hopped into that tank, the audience knew exactly what had driven the character to that point. Negan has started off on his own metaphorical tank and it’s even more extravagantly violent and ridiculous.
Negan isn’t so much a character on The Walking Dead as he is a violent force of nature. There is no seeming inner psychology to Negan, no deeper meaning to anything that he does, he is just an awful, vile person. While some fans might enjoy this because it makes Negan immediately unlikable, The Walking Dead should treat its villains with more care.
Negan is everything that was wrong with the big kills that opened the season. He is there just to shock and disgust the audience. There is no emotional weight to Negan because he doesn’t seem real. He’s not there to be a fully-fledged character or anything close to resembling a human being. Negan exists to be hated and that is the laziest thing that The Walking Dead could do with a villain.
The Short End of the Stick Bat
If you compare Negan to other new characters, it is immediately clear how short he comes up in comparison. In one episode The Walking Dead managed to show off many different sides of “King” Ezekiel. Ezekiel is over-the-top but at the same time kind, smart, and more than a little dangerous. The Walking Dead took a larger-than-life character like Ezekiel, a man who owns a pet tiger, and made him into a full person in one episode. Negan has been given twice, maybe thrice, the screentime of Ezekiel and the only thing that has been added to his character is that he “doesn’t enjoy killing women.” (Negan does enjoy forcing “consensual” sex out of women though.)
Even when you compare Negan to other Saviors he still looks insanely poorly written. The best Saviors that The Walking Dead has introduced are Dwight and the short-lived Paula from season 6. In both Dwight and Paula, The Walking Dead gave the audience reasons for what actions those characters have taken. Paula and Dwight might have both done monstrous things but they, themselves, are not monsters. They might be unlikable but they are still understandable. Negan is just a one-dimensional wrecking ball of a character. No depth, no emotion, just killing.
The Walking Dead has been against flashbacks but in the case of Negan, the show desperately needs to flash back. The audience really needs to learn why Negan became the way he is and have confirmation that he isn’t as poorly written as he seems. Negan can’t be this awful for no reason than other being a villain. It’s boring and repetitive. Negan has only been in four episodes and already his long profanity-filled monologues about violence are growing stale.
The Walking Dead has to prove there is a reason behind Negan’s actions other than shocking the audience. It doesn’t even need to be a flashback. Negan goes on so many long, obnoxious monologues that he could tell someone his entire life story and it wouldn’t seem out of character. No matter how The Walking Dead gets there, they need to prove that there is a reason to care about Negan beyond how well he can kill people with baseball bats.
What do you think of Negan? Does The Walking Dead have a problem with the character? Do you want Negan to show more layers or is he interesting enough now? Is it enough for you that he just likes killing people?
The Walking Dead season 7 airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. Want more news? Like our Facebook page!
(Images courtesy of AMC)