He was built up all through the second half of Season 6, and then in the dying moments of The Walking Dead Season 6 finale, Negan was finally introduced with a savage attack which changed the face of the show forever.
With #TheWalkingDead Season 8 looking like it's headed towards war, we're bound to see even more of Negan than we did in Season 7. But who is this man and how did he become such an evil bastard? Take a look below and get to know the nastiest Big Bad seen on TV in a long time.
Note: the second half of this article contains spoilers from Here's Negan/The Walking Dead comic series.
From The TV series: What We Know About Negan
At some stage in the apocalypse Negan formed (or took control of) a group of people collectively known as the Saviors. The Saviors are a large group, and on top of having a main base, also seem to have at least three outposts (the main Sanctuary, the base Simon lives at and the one #RickGrimes and co attacked in Season 6).
Negan and the Saviors established their dominance in the area after visiting smaller communities and demanding half of their supplies in return for not destroying their walls and leaving them to be overrun with walkers. To make sure the communities know Negan is serious about the arrangement, he often kills a member of the group as a warning to the others, murdering a 16-year-old named Rory from the Hilltop, as well as Glenn and Abe from Alexandria. We also know that the Saviors kill big group of survivors when they break the rules set out by Negan and his men, including all the men and boys of Oceanside.
Negan's weapon of choice is a barbed wire-covered baseball bat which he calls Lucille. He uses Lucille to kill Glenn and Abe at the end of Season 6. However in Season 7 we learned even more of Negan's cruel punishment tactics, including his fondness for burning the faces of the Saviors who break his strict set of rules, explaining Dwight's heavily-burned face.
Season 7 also saw Negan maintaining his tight grip over the communities, ruling with fear and not hesitating to kill people like Spencer to set an example. We also learned that although Negan has many wives, he does not condone rape and even killing a potential rapist, showing his shaky moral code.
Not accustomed to groups being a significant threat to his Saviors, Negan was more than perturbed when it came to his attention in the Season 7 finale that many of the communities he thought had been working for him had actually formed an army to fight him. After coming up against Alexandria, Hilltop and the Kingdom in the finale and being forced to retreat (along with Jadis' "filthy garbage people"), Negan made his way back to the Sanctuary where he made it clear to his Saviors that they'd be going to war.
From The comics: Life Before The Apocalypse
In the comic series Here's Negan (which is still being released), readers are finally being given some of Negan's backstory. While the TV series may or may not choose to reveal Negan's backstory, if they do there's a good chance they'll use material from Here's Negan.
So far in the series we've learned that prior to the apocalypse Negan was a gym teacher. He was also married, and his wife — who was named Lucille — was diagnosed with cancer some time before the outbreak. Negan was unfaithful to his wife, though in the end chose her over his mistress, and cared for her tenderly through to her last moments in hospital. Shortly before Lucille died, the hospital was being evacuated because of the outbreak, though Negan refused to leave her side and soon after had his first encounter with walkers.
Following Lucille's death and the apocalypse, Negan adjusts to the new world, though gradually becomes hardened after continually making connections with survivors who are then promptly killed. Eventually he's found by Dwight, who welcomes him into his camp of survivors (which includes Dwight's wife, Sherry) and over time Negan establishes himself as the leader.
In The Future: What Next For Negan?
With war declared it looks as though we can expect the comic book storyline "All Out War" to take place over much of Season 8.
As with any war there will be casualties on either side, though ultimately fans of The Walking Dead will be hoping that the TV series follows the comic series, which provides a fairly satisfactory ending for those who detest Negan. However the show hasn't been afraid of deviating from the comics in the past, so only time will tell if this Big Bad triumphs over Rick and co, or is forced to admit defeat.