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The Walking Dead: That big comic-to-TV change in Negan’s origin story explained

By Josh Weiss

The Walking Dead's 10th season closed out last Sunday with the sixth and final entry in its undead roster of bonus episodes filmed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The finale (entitled "Here's Negan") provided an origin story for the baseball bat-loving Negan, who is played to nuanced perfection by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. If you've read the Walking Dead comics by Robert Kirkman, then you know that the Saviors began with a meeting between Negan and Dwight.

The show deviates from the source material by having Negan meet Laura (Lindsley Register) who knocks the character out with — what else? — a baseball bat as he attempts to steal medicine for his dying wife, Lucille. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Angela Kang admitted that the original plan was to bring back Austin Amelio to play Dwight. Sadly, it didn't work out due to a combination of the pandemic health crisis and the shooting schedule for Fear the Walking Dead, in which Amelio now co-stars as a regular.

"It wouldn't have worked to bring him over," she explained. "We were like, 'Okay, well let's think about our other Saviors and who is a sympathetic former Savior. And most of them are not really, but Laura was always a Savior that you go, like, 'She doesn't seem that bad.' And then she joined our heroes until Beta killed her ... She just seemed like the right person that fits that story where you'd believe that she had a benign start to the apocalypse, and basically Negan admired her for her strength, and that's how she came to cross with him."

The Walking Dead Here's Negan

While Kang was a little disheartened that they couldn't be super faithful to the comics, she was pleased with the end result.  

"At the end of the day, I actually really like that it wound up being Laura, because it helps me understand how she came to cross with Negan and be friends with him. And yet it was so easy to turn her back to our hero side," the executive producer said.

Production on the 11th and final season is now in production, with AMC planning to start rolling out the last batch of episodes in late August. Season 11 will air between late 2021 and early 2022 before spinning off into a brand-new series that centers around the road adventures of Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride). Aso of note: According to Morgan, the main show was not originally supposed to end with the upcoming season.