The Walking Dead

Why Negan Returned Explained By Walking Dead Season 11 Showrunner

The Walking Dead season 11 showrunner Angela Kang explains the reasoning behind Negan's unexpected return to the show in episode 13.

The Walking Dead season 11 showrunner Angela Kang explains Negan’s return to the show. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s bad-guy-turned-good appeared to have exited TWD forever after wandering into the woods following Maggie’s Reapers massacre in the season 11B premiere. But season 11, episode 13 executed a twist by having Negan return under the most unexpected circumstances.

The Walking Dead season 11’s timeline indeed is becoming somewhat convoluted and hard to follow, but the main story of episode 13 “Warlords” takes place six months after Negan’s departure. The action this time centers around the Commonwealth recruiting Gabriel and Aaron to make contact with a community of religious fanatics holed up in a crumbling apartment complex. It’s soon revealed however that the “make contact” ploy is a cover for some secret Commonwealth activities cooked up by the shady Hornsby and his crony Carlson. Amid the ensuing chaos at the complex, Negan suddenly comes bursting out of the woods with a woman named Annie, and sends a message to Maggie via a fleeing Jesse to come and help Gabriel and Aaron.

Negan’s unexpected arrival on the scene may have been good news for Gabriel and Aaron, but there are some TWD fans who may think it’s bad news for the show to have Negan back. Appearing on Talking Dead after the airing of “Warlords,” showrunner Kang at least gave the reasoning behind Negan being back in the story as a member of a new group (via

“When we left Negan, and he walked off and he left Maggie, we really felt like that was finishing the arc of, ‘I want to be a joiner now, I want to be part of this group, let me redeem myself, let me prove myself.’ Everything really changed when Maggie came [back]. I think if you’re Negan, why would you trust Maggie after what she did at Meridian? We felt like with that headspace, he really went into the world feeling like, ‘I’m just going to start over,’ whatever that looks like. But we know that Negan is a social animal, he really likes to have people to talk to, so it felt to us like he would fall in with a group.”

Kang went on to explain more about how Negan’s throwing in with the apartment complex group plays into his ongoing redemption arc:

“He would probably pretty quickly make himself invaluable to some people. It felt like if he falls in with a completely different group and there’s no baggage there, he really is in a different headspace where he realizes, ‘If I can wipe the slate clean, can I make some choices that are different this time around? Can I? Have I changed? Can I change?'”

Of course the notion of Negan changing is laughable to some TWD fans after the level of evil he demonstrated while leading the Saviors. It’s truly hard for many to grasp how Negan could ever be redeemed after he so brutally murdered beloved characters Glenn and Abraham. And it’s even harder for some to swallow Maggie forgiving Negan after she witnessed him pummeling the father of her child to death right in front of her eyes.

But it seems Kang and the brain-trust at The Walking Dead have committed to the idea of reversing course on Negan and making him a good guy. Indeed this plan has gone so far, they’ve even whipped up a future spinoff that will send former mortal enemies Maggie and Negan to New York City to battle zombies side-by-side. Everything that happens with Maggie and Negan from now until the final episode of TWD should probably be viewed as set-up for this spinoff show. That being the case, it was not only vital that Negan make his unexpected return to The Walking Dead, it’s crucial that the show continues to convince fans he’s actually someone they should root for now. But there are doubtless a lot of Negan-haters who will never be brought around to thinking he’s one of the good guys.

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