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AMC's #TheWalkingDead is shuffling toward its war-torn eighth season, and the network is promising that the fight is far from over yet. While ratings may take a knock, TWD will always be known for making great #comicbook villains. Whether it be a man with an eyepatch, a woman who talks in riddles, or a Comedian from Watchmen practicing his best baseball swing, there is always somebody to boo and hiss at.
However, as the show advances in its years, there is no denying that the line between hero and foe has become somewhat blurred. The Walking Dead is one of those shows in which one minute your are tied and gagged, the next minute you are biting a man's Johnson just to stay alive. We have followed the arc of #AndrewLincoln's Rick Grimes and watched his methods become increasingly bloodthirsty to protect his own. So, with #JeffreyDeanMorgan's Negan the latest Big Bad, we have to ask, "Is he really such a bad guy after all?"
Comicbook.com caught up with showrunner Scott Gimple to ask if the show's two leading men are chalk and cheese, or if they have actually been cut from the same cloth:
"I think if we followed Negan we might even be in the same place that we are with Rick where we're like, 'Whoa. What you're doing there seems like the behavior of a bad person.' What's interesting is, I think for Rick's experience, he's justified in what he's been doing. The world has formed him this way and what he's done has generally been a reaction to being threatened and trying to make sure that his people live."
While the Wolves, the Hunters, the residents of Terminus, and the madcap Governor were all out for blood, Negan seems to have a softer side under there somewhere. Remember as well, it was Rick and co. who first launched an attack on the Saviors' transmission station. As Negan would rightly say, shouldn't it be a case of an eye for an eye, Rick (sorry Carl)?
Only last season, we saw Rick and his group barrel into the Oceanside community and forcibly remove their supply of guns. Sure, they did it relatively peacefully, but it is the most recent event in a long line of Rick Grimes's misdeeds actually being a bit of a prick. Look back at peaceful Alexandria before our hardened band of survivors turned up and meddled in their afternoons of fresh lemonade on the porch. Nowadays it finds itself in the middle of a war zone, with poor Deanna's plans for a safe zone lying in tatters.
The Benefit Of The Doubt
Also, looking back at the Season 7 finale and Negan's little chat with Sasha, we saw the leader's willingness to not just be another psychotic dictator. Elsewhere, Eugene's recent stay at the Sanctuary has showed that life under Negan can actually be all pickles and cuddly toys instead of irons and furnaces. As for Rick, we can only see him become increasingly dogged in his survival tactics, and somewhat losing the shine off his sheriff's badge:
"Things are getting greyer and greyer and greyer. But I think the things that Rick has done you can hold up against the things that Negan has done and it's not a vast gulf between those two but the way that they operate is very different. Their philosophies are very different and that's maybe where we see one person being the hero and one person being the villain."
For those who follow the comic books of the same name, beyond the current "All Out War" storyline, we see Negan become an antihero of the piece and even become an instrumental part of the group in battling the next band of bastards on the horizon.
One of the main criticisms of Morgan's portrayal so far is that Negan seems a little too nice. We don't know how the show will play out in comparison to the comic books, but is Negan a character miscasting, or is Gimple purposefully giving us a more mellow madman for the ages? For those who still don't agree that Rick and Negan are two men from the different sides of the track, just wait until Season 20 when Rick is bashing in some poor kid's head with a baseball bat and walking around in a leather jacket.