Eye patches and wire-wrapped baseball bats, wow, Robert Kirkman sure knows how to create a colorful villain. The pages of The Walking Dead comic books have been brought to life by AMC with some truly messed up bad guys, however, the show can be split into two eras: the reign of The Governor and the reign of Negan. But which of them comes out on top?
Forget Hulk vs. Wolverine, we want an #AMC Rock'em Sock'em Robots where Negan and The Governor go head to head for general assholery. While Jeffrey Dean Morgan himself says that Negan would kick The Governor's (a.k.a. Philip Blake) ass, we aren't so sure. Let's look at the facts to see who the biggest bastard at the end of the world is.
What Does He Do For Fun?
The end of the world can be a boring place, it isn't like LOST where you can play golf in Hawaii all day long. The constant threat of cannibals and corpses means that your average colony leader has little time to himself. However, even The Governor and Negan find time in their busy schedule to unwind with a little fun. Whether it is creating your own aquarium or doing the ironing, these two have some unusual hobbies.
If collecting trophies of your victims in fishtanks doesn't class you as criminally insane, nothing will. TV in an apocalypse may be hard to come by, but settling down at the end of the day to watch bobbing heads with a cold beer is more than a little out there. The Governor had the very calculated streak of displaying his decapitated enemies in tanks as a sick reminder of his victory.
Then there was Woodbury's latest blood sport: the gladiator-like spectacle of Merle and co. fighting zombies in their apocalypse pit. It took the town back to Ancient Rome with The Governor serving as the Caesar of Woodbury.
Polishing your baseball bat can only keep you satisfied for so long, so Negan has to find other ways to let off "steam." Whereas a normal punishment for someone sleeping with your wife might be to put sugar in his petrol tank or plastic wrap the toilet seat, Negan takes it one step further. The gruff leader of the Saviors seems to take great pleasure in melting the faces of those who have wronged him. We have already seen it happen to Dwight and Mark, while Negan's constant jokes to Dwight shows that the actual burning is only the start of the torment.
The other way that Negan lets out some of his roid rage is to practice some pitching down the batting cages. A wire-wrapped baseball bat is an extreme method of dispatching your victims by anyone's stretch of the imagination.
Winner: The Governor
Negan had Alexandria's mattresses burned for fun, while The Governor burned down the entire town of Woodbury just so that no one could make use of it in the apocalypse. It is a close call on who has the meanest streak, but Blake's museum of floating heads just tips the scales. Negan smashing your head in with a bat is a truly awful way to go, but at least he doesn't display you like a mounted stag's head on his wall.
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Just because the world crumbles into disarray doesn't mean that you can't find romance in and among the rotted flesh. For some strange reason, both men find themselves to be a hit with the ladies, perhaps it is something to do with the attractiveness of a man in power. Who doesn't want to get behind Guv's eye patch or run their fingers through Negan's beard (post mid-season finale)?
We do know that at some point there was a Mrs. Governor, hence that toothless daughter hiding in the closet, but we also see him find love post-apocalypse. The show gave us that cringeworthy Andrea/Governor romance, which was on par with Lori and Shane for awful plotlines and scripting. However, The Governor bowed out of Season 3 with a particularly vicious act that also resulted in the demise of Andrea. As the ultimate man scorned, The Governor left a handcuffed Andrea to be bitten by a turned Milton — now that's not very romantic, is it!
Also, let's not even start on the comic book portrayal of The Governor and his treatment of women. One panel (obviously omitted from the show) had Michonne imprisoned and repeatedly raped by Blake. Hmmm, it seems that someone has a problem with being challenged by female authority figures.
What about Negan and his opinions on the fairer sex? Well, there is the fact that he caresses an inanimate object and refers to "her" as Lucille, but at least he knows how to treat a lady. Apart from leaving Lucille lying by a supply truck, she is literally his world!
Then there is Negan's harem of wives. While no one could possibly top Lucille as his No.1. woman, Negan's wives are there to satisfy his more basic needs. Comic book Negan is very black and white in his rules, punishing rapists or those who treat women badly. As he asked Sherry on the show, "have I ever hit one of you?" and the answer is no. Negan's wives may find themselves trapped under his dictatorship, but it beats eating dog food sandwich.
Winner: The Governor
Due to his blatant disregard of women and the way he treated Andrea, The Governor wins this round. If you include the comic book treatment of Michonne, he is the clear winner!
The Worst Of The Worst
What sets The Governor and Negan apart from their lesser villainous counterparts from #TheWalkingDead is their acts of pure evil. Sure, some other bad guys have offed the odd character, but Negan and The Guv have taken the majority of the main characters shuffling off this mortal coil. Let's look at some of the worst things they have ever done.
As The Governor's life in Woodbury fell apart, an even darker version returned under the alias of Brian Heriot. With a made-up backstory, and set on revenge, nothing was going to stop The Governor causing some serious trouble at Rick's prison. We all know the iconic decapitation scene of Tyreese from the comics, but few expected it to go to jolly Santa Claus Hershel.
Admittedly, the Michonne rape didn't transpire on TV, but even with his TV iteration you know that he was capable of it, and a network like HBO definitely would have brought this to life. It just seems like anything could snap Blake at any moment, flipping between calm and crazy. David Morrissey himself, the actor behind the villain, said that The Governor was fighting a Jekyl and Hyde inside him, but there are no prizes for guessing which one won!
There may only have been eight episodes of Negan brought to our screens, but he has already cemented himself as one messed up leather-clad daddy. Burning Mark, imprisoning Daryl, stealing the Alexandria furniture, oh, and the little matter of Glenn and Abraham. We also saw the gutting of Spencer in front of the entire community, including little Baby Judith and his cavalier attitude to "just kill one of them." If this is what Negan is capable of in just half of a season, who knows what horror awaits the group.
Neither of the men is going to win humanitarian of the year, but one goes swinging into the lead with his dastardly acts. Hershel's death sting stings, but I don't think anything will ever top the offing of Abraham and Glenn — batter up and a win for Negan.
Relationship With Rick
Forget the women in their lives, one sign of a true TWD baddie is how they handle grumpy cop Rick Grimes. Although Robert Kirkman has confirmed that Grimey will not be making it out of the apocalypse alive, we have to remember that Rick is the de-facto leader of the show. How you go up against him and his survivors can mean life or death for any true villain, so how did The Governor and Negan handle Rick?
Rick and The Governor were going to get along, let's be honest. They were both equally matched as leaders of their own little worlds, and the whole "join me and let's be powerful together" was never going to really work. That doesn't mean that the pair couldn't sit down and share a whiskey though, and arguably, most of Guv's beef came from him and Michonne.
We did have the great Rick and Governor stand off in the final prison battle. Even rocking up in a tank did nothing to sway the prison survivor's resolve. After Hershel's death, an enraged Rick ran headlong into The Governor and his tank to get the holy hell kicked out of him. If it weren't for Michonne and that handy katana, it could have been curtains for Rick!
Admittedly, there has been an eye for an eye mentality sparked by the attack from the Savior compound, but since the bloodbath of the premiere episode, Negan has maintained his big bad wolf status.
From the close of Season 6 up until now, Rick has always been on the back foot with Negan, a situation we aren't used to seeing him in. Rick has been off his game recently, and that might pay off in the "All Out War" storyline if Negan continues to underestimate the group. As ever with the show, it looks like things will get worse before they get better in the second half of Season 7; I'm not sure who is left to be killed, but Negan will find someone as a new play thing.
There is something sadistic about Negan treating Rick like a pet. From "fetch my axe" to burning their mattresses, Negan is like a cat with a mouse. The Governor and Rick were on an equal ground intellectually and power-wise, while Negan is a cut above The Guv with his intimidation tactics.
The Sympathetic Leader
So, we have seen what bad they can do, but did either of these men have any redeeming qualities? Every good leader has to have some good inside them, right? The pair have been compared to Genghis Khan/Stalin. Negan is Genghis, using his brutal battle nature to rally people behind him and get them to work for their supper. The Governor is a Stalinesque behind-the-scenes leader, who got others to do his dirty work for him. The Governor was more likely to be found hiding behind a tank than swinging a baseball bat front a center, but what about the people they lead?
It may have looked all like barn dances and hot showers at Woodbury, but their leader was taking them to an early grave. The Governor (quite literally) tore through the body count of Woodbury residents when he gunned them down in the Season 3 finale, then trotted off on his little camping adventure. Assuming the position as leader of a new group, The Governor managed to doom a whole other group of survivors and killed Martinez to cover his past mistakes. Just when you thought Brian Heriot had arrived for The Governor to turn over a leaf, he came crawling back out of that eye patch.
At the end of the day though, Philip Blake was a crappy leader. He lacked the vision to branch out from his little home in Woodbury, then eventually decided he would take on the prison...with a tank. Few TV villains can say they have attacked their opponents in a tank, but somehow rolling into battle like a wounded general at the helm worked for The Governor's mad character.
Firm but fair, I guess that is how you would describe Negan. We are yet to see Negan's backstory, or how he got to where he is, but it does look like he runs his ship with everyone in their "correct place." Admittedly, being fed dog food and wearing a stained sweatshirt doesn't seem like much of a place in the apocalypse, but Negan decided that it is.
As a leader he seems effective, hardworking, and rewarding. Nobody's perfect, but those closest to Negan are as close to living the apocalypse high life as you can be. Also, the whole "we are all Negan" thing shows the devoted loyalty of the Saviors. You didn't see Woodbury residents all sporting eye patches or bowing before The Governor.
Winner: The Governor
A crappy, just a totally crappy leader, plus he was a psychopath. Negan is prone to violent outbursts, but we are yet to see him mow down his entire community. Without people to lead, how can you be a leader? So for pure stupidity and unpredictability, The Governor wins this round.
The Final Vote
I hate to say it, but I think The Governor wins this one.
Negan is clearly a dick, but there is something sickly/sweet about Jeffrey Dean Morgan's portrayal. A jolly, laughing, maniac who makes pretty good pasta and doesn't mind holding the baby. That being said, if he offers to do the ironing, I would steer clear. Negan's TV appearance seems like the kind of guy who would be your best bud and buy you a drink. The Governor would be the creepy guy in the corner that no one likes to talk to and has no friends.
Don't get me wrong, both are spawns of Satan, but there is something slightly more unnerving about The Governor and the lengths he went to for his own gain. Negan seems to be doing (some) good for those around him, whereas Blake was on a one-man revenge mission.
We are only one season into Negan's reign of terror, so there is definitely time to up the stakes. However, I feel with the skull-smashing of Abraham and Glenn, plus the gutting of Spencer, some form of Negan redemption is just over the hill. Fans of the comics will know that Negan becomes instrumental in the war against the Whisperers and actually aids Rick, although part of me will never be convinced he will truly be on anyone's side other than his own. The Governor on the other hand had his dictatorship abruptly brought to an end — who knows what else he'd have up his sleeve if he were still alive now.
Check out the promo for the second half of Season 7, and don't forget our poll below!