For the past few years viewers of The Walking Dead have been patiently waiting for revenge for Abraham and Glenn’s deaths, or at least a resolution to the all out war storyline. Negan has been given the title of the villain that you love to hate. See, that statement right there is where the disconnect happens; love to hate. Fans love him for a reason, and the reason is simple. Negan isn’t the villain! There I said it; someone had to. You see fans want him dead for killing some of our favorite characters and being Rick and Company’s antagonist. However, if you look at who Negan is you’ll find that he isn’t actually the bad guy.
Let’s start with how Negan is introduced to see where he gets the “Big Bad Wolf” rap. We first learn of Negan from the Hilltop and the deal they struck with them; half of everything they own. This seems oppressive but if you consider the fact that the Hilltop is a bunch of farmers who have no combat skills except for Jesus then you can understand why they would barter a deal in order to receive protection from the Saviors. This comes even further into play when you take into account that their leader is Gregory. He is a spineless political type who weasels his way through every situation he’s put in just to ensure his own survival and comfort. He’s proven time and time again that he is an untrustworthy individual as we watch him attempt to worm his way through at every side. He convinced the Hilltop to make him leader and he convinced the Saviors to work with him for a deal which seems only he benefits from. Once he defects, he works directly with the Saviors and when he returns to Hilltop and Maggie imprison him, he works with the captured Saviors. Finally once he gets free, he goes back to Simon to work with the Saviors once again. This guy has more flip-flops than the Jersey Shore boardwalk! I’ll be honest, I’ve wanted this guy to die way more than I ever wanted Negan to.
Anyway Gregory strikes a deal with Maggie and Rick to kill the Saviors, who were protecting them by the way. Rick and Company go to the outpost and kill everyone there, in their sleep none the less. Who’s the villain now? Daryl, Sasha and Abraham encounter some of these men on the road and blow them all to smithereens with an RPG. Now granted these guys were definitely nasty and at the time they deserved it, but it attributes to the fact that our group of survivors has now killed more of Negan’s men than they themselves have lost during the entire run of the show up until this point.
When Negan makes his introduction to the show he tells them that they killed a lot of his men, more than he is comfortable with. Let’s face the facts, Negan only wants to kill one person from Rick’s group, for revenge. The fact that our survivors took out an entire outpost proves Negan is vindicated here in wanting some blood. If he was to let it slide it would be a major sign of weakness. Let’s look at this from the other side. We’ve been rooting for Rick for 6 seasons at that point, but what if he had gotten to Alexandria earlier? What if he had branched out? Most importantly what if he had an entire outpost of his slaughtered in cold blood? If we had followed Negan from the beginning instead then Rick would be the villain. We all know Rick Grimes would have eradicated everyone involved, so Negan only killing one person is a little more than fair. “BUT HE KILLED GLENN!” Well actually he killed a random person. He doesn’t know Glenn, he doesn’t know that he did it in front of his pregnant wife, he just picked someone at random; if we go from the comics perspective at least. For the show he picks Abraham. Now they make it seem totally random here, but think about this from his perspective. You can’t kill Rick, he’s the leader. These people won’t work for him if he does. He needs to break the leader. Killing Carl would have caused Rick to kill Negan right on the spot. However, who would have been the obvious choice for someone to give Negan a problem. I don’t know maybe the biggest guy there who clearly looks like he has a military background. Abraham was a big strong dude. Killing him first was Negan’s only move. “BUT WHAT ABOUT GLENN!”, yes I miss Glenn too. However Glenn dies on the show because Daryl hits Negan. Like he said, “I’ll shut that shit down”.
The bottom line is that Rick would have slaughtered all of the Saviors right then and there had the roles been reversed. Back when our group escaped Terminus we watched it happen. They crossed Rick and his group killed them all, in a church no less. Rick did this to ensure his survival, just like he killed the Saviors in the outpost. He saw the greater good for HIS people. Rick isn’t bad, he’s just a guy who will do whatever it takes to ensure his group’s survival. Negan is Rick but just from a different perspective. He watched as his group was nothing but a bunch of lawless psychos destroying without any order. He took over and put rules in place. When the Sanctuary thinks he’s dead, the workers (the lowest people on the totem by the way) start looking for him. When he shows back up they kneel to him and thank him. He protected the Hilltop from Walkers. I’d say the only one’s who lost out so far is the Kingdom. However Negan strong arming the Kingdom was just a way for him to provide for his people. Which Rick and Maggie attempt to do to the Hilltop. I would say Ezekiel got the short end of the stick on that deal but Negan had a reason. Once Rick and company show up the kill count goes up but they are the middle of a war at this point. All of Negan’s kills had purpose. Abraham as revenge and a show of authority. Glenn to show authority and prove he wasn’t playing around. Even Spencer had a purpose. Spencer was trying to overthrow Rick’s authority! Negan used to work with kids prior to the apocalypse and helped guide them. If you think about it, he’s been doing this his whole life. He’s a little off the rails now do to losing his wife but so is Rick. While Negan does have some bad tendencies, he’s just trying to protect his group and go out to create a new world order; to save people. Sure he runs with psychopaths but as he puts it, people are a resource. Besides you need some tough people to survive this universe. Rick’s right hand man is Daryl and I’m sure if you ask the people that encouterd him they’d say he’s a psycho. It all becomes subjective to which side you are on. That’s the point. Negan isn’t the bad guy, he’s just the other side of a coin with Rick Grimes’ face on it.