For morally gray characters of The Walking Dead universe, a redemption arc is par for the course. But do they all really deserve one? Apparently, the creatives behind both The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead feel that even the most unforgivable characters, such as Negan and Victor Strand, deserve a second chance.
Despite both of these villains enjoying their crawl to redemption, the two had very different beginnings. Both were introduced to their respective shows as slimy figures who will do anything to survive, but had very different approaches in doing so. Negan was a highly respected, yet feared leader of the Saviors and enforced a god complex that put him on a higher pedestal than everyone else. Needless to say, he was a violent and unapologetic tyrant. Strand, on the other hand, was much more subtle in the beginning. Strand helped Madison and her family to safety but constantly flipped from friend to foe by manipulating them to get what he wants. So which one deserves a shot at redemption more?
Negan’s Most Crucial Mistakes in TWD Still Go Unsaid
One of the many faults within Negan’s redemption arc is the fact that he hasn’t apologized for any of his mistakes. The determining factor for Negan’s redemption is Maggie, who ultimately admitted to starting to trust Negan in the Season 11B finale, but there’s still a lot that’s been left unspoken.
Negan fans have often used the excuse that he can be forgiven for brutally murdering Glenn and Abraham because Rick started the conflict by murdering multiple Saviors in their sleep. This argument is still a debated topic today in The Walking Dead fandom, despite the fact that Negan has enforced that he doesn’t regret it and would do it all over again by “killing every last one of them.”
Killing Glenn and Abraham is still the heart of Negan’s redemption controversy, but the writers of The Walking Dead have ignored what truly makes Negan an irredeemable character: his wives. The wife storyline is so hideously swept under the rug in The Walking Dead that it constitutes the idea that fans want to forget that what Negan did was a form of sexual exploitation. The central idea of Negan’s “wives” is that women (as young as 19) would marry Negan and have sex with him so they wouldn’t have to work as slaves or die. It’s a disgusting ultimatum that has only been acknowledged through Sherry’s trauma on Fear the Walking Dead, but The Walking Dead overlooks it to set Negan’s redemption in motion.
Fear the Walking Dead’s Strand Flipped Like a Switch
One of Fear the Walking Dead‘s many issues with Season 7 is Strand’s villain arc. It makes sense why Strand would ultimately become a villain in the show; he’s always been hard to read and was an unforeseeable force of nature. But Season 7 makes him someone he’s not; he becomes a hardened leader that sends assassins to murder innocent children and laughs at people falling to their death. The Strand from Seasons 1-3 was none of those things.
What makes matters worse is Strand wasn’t even a villain for long. The fan-hated episodes 14 and 15 of Season 7 already give him the Negan treatment when Alicia saves his life from the burning Tower, ultimately forgiving him. It feels like Fear the Walking Dead skipped over a few plot points to get there, and it’s entirely unpredictable where Strand fits into this story going forward without Alicia having his back.
Strand Somehow Deserves Redemption More Than Negan
Strand’s journey to forgiveness might have hit the fast-forward button, but he’s entirely regrettable for his actions. Like The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead has ignored the worst of his actions (killing a literal child), but there’s still a sliver of goodness to work with there. Negan’s atonement story just feels undeserving because no one wants to face the uncomfortable truth about the wives.
Fear the Walking Dead is by far a sack of dirt compared to The Walking Dead, but it’s miles ahead when it comes to acknowledging the trauma of the wives and Strand’s questionable leadership. Focusing squarely on Glenn’s death makes Negan’s development from zero to hero so incredibly unjust, which strangely means that Strand is the winner here. It’s odd that this is the one thing that Fear the Walking Dead has managed to succeed at compared to The Walking Dead, and it just feels like a process of elimination.
The Season 7 finale of Fear the Walking Dead airs Sunday, June 5 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on AMC and will be available to stream a week early on AMC+. The Walking Dead Season 11C is expected to return in 2022.