The Walking Dead is another one of these shows with an interesting dynamic between fans who know where it's going, and those who are experiencing it all for the first time. There isn't quite the disparity and smugness enjoyed by Game of Thrones, but there is always the knowledge that the show is making its way along to big events. While readers and watchers of Game of Thrones are now level pegging with the story they've consumed, The Walking Dead still has a long way to go with the upcoming Season 6!
The Walking Dead has never shied away from diverging from its source material, for example, Andrea is still merrily sniping the bad guys in the comics. Yet, the broad flow of the narrative is still adhered to, and there's one element comic readers are particularly eager to see, or more accurately, to see the reactions of those only watching the show. There are some HUGE spoilers ahead! You have been warned!
Negan in The Walking Dead Season 6!
As it stands, Negan is arguably the most cruel and despicable villain that Robert Kirkman has ever been able to conjure up! Sure, the Governor was bad, but he was at least perceivable as a traditional villain. He even had an eyepatch! How considerate! Meanwhile, Negan wields a level of sadism that forces you to question humanity itself. Leading a group of survivors named The Saviors, and running a community entirely designed to benefit him, Negan is posited as such a monster that he makes the walkers look like mosquitos.
There are a few details to Negan's introduction in the comics, such as him quite randomly beating Glenn to death with his barbed wire-laced baseball bat which he calls Lucille, that even veteran fans find hard to stomach. I still feel ill looking back over those pages, so what would the reaction be from fans of only the TV show? Perhaps there are a few things The Walking Dead Season 6 could do to soften the blow.
Introduce Negan as a friend
This would be a huge departure from the source material, as in the comics, Negan was built up as an intimidating figure before we even saw him. That only added to the shock as he emerged on the scene, but it could be just as shocking if he's built up to Rick and the group as a potential ally. Imagine the dramatic irony of seeing a naive Rick Grimes make deals with a man named Negan, unaware of the all out war to come! Better yet, imagine a character going by a fake name, only revealing his name to be Negan right before he unleashes hell.
Introduce Negan abruptly
The degree to which following the introduction of Negan in the comics would work depends largely on the casting. On the page, the art style and character design can reflect exactly what Kirkman wants us to feel, but if even one detail is off in the performance of whoever is cast to play Negan, he's just some loud mouth weirdo who shows up and is suddenly the main villain because the show said so. That said, if the show nails the introduction of Negan, we could see the audience blindsided in one of the biggest shocks in TV history!
Kill off someone unexpected
So the thing that makes Negan's appearance in the comics so upsetting is mostly down to the way Glenn is so callously and gruesomely dispatched of. Comic fans will no doubt be expecting that moment in Season 6, but what if the show throws us a curve ball? What if, after Negan's cruel game of random selection, he picks... oh I dunno, Daryl? It would be a bold and sadistic move, and if AMC go ahead with that, I just hope they have riot gear to hand out to their employees! You can catch everything else Walking Dead right here!