The final 24-episode season of The Walking Dead continues to shoot in Georgia, with the first eight episodes set to premiere in August. As the series embarks on its final story arc in The Commonwealth, and with the parent series finally ending after eleven seasons, there’s only one thing left that the series must do in order to be considered a success:
They have to kill Negan.
Despite vague rumors of a possible Negan spin-off, Negan’s death is the only way to make sense of his arc, which began in the season six finale and led to the brutal murders of Glenn and Abraham. The series slowly rebuilt Negan after the events of the All Out War, and by the end of the tenth season, he’d essentially redeemed himself to everyone except Maggie, who can’t get over the fact that Negan murdered her husband. There is one way, however, to achieve that, and that is by substituting Negan into Rick Grimes’ arc from the comics.
Comic Spoilers Below
In the comics, Rick, Michonne, and Co. arrive at The Commonwealth — a fully civilized society of 50,000 people with all the amenities of a modern civilization, including courtrooms, concert venues, and even a military. However, The Commonwealth — which is run by Governor Pamela Milton — is not an egalitarian society. Despite the events of the apocalypse, the citizens of The Commonwealth are placed within the society based upon their pre-apocalypse jobs. In other words, lawyers, doctors, and politicians continue to maintain their positions at the top of the hierarchy, while those who worked in more menial jobs continue to live in the bottom rungs.
This arrangement doesn’t sit well the Rick Grimes, who successfully shakes up the system and is even considering running for Governor of The Commonwealth. Ultimately, however, he didn’t get that chance because Rick, who was so relaxed enough in the new world order that he had helped to build that let his guard down and is shot and killed by the Governor’s weak, sniveling son Sebastian Milton while Rick was in bed.
This should also be the fate of Negan, who seems like the most natural person remaining to fill the vacuum left by the absence of Rick Grimes. Negan knows from his own experience with The Saviors that concentrating all the power at the top is not an effective way to govern. It was Rick, moreover, who gave Negan a second chance by imprisoning him instead of killing him. Negan can honor that debt by leading as Rick would have by building a better future for The Commonwealth. Ironically, it should cost Negan his life, which would not only bring his redemption arc full circle but earn him the posthumous respect of Maggie.
With the series coming to a close, it also makes sense for The Walking Dead to kill off one of its most popular characters, and there are only four realistic possibilities: Daryl, Carol, Maggie, and Negan. We know that Daryl and Carol will survive because they have a spin-off, while Maggie’s esteemed place within the series took a hit when Lauren Cohan left the show for a season-and-a-half. Negan’s death would thus have the biggest impact, and more easily fulfills the story obligations of Robert Kirkman’s source material.
It would also be devastating for fans of The Walking Dead, but that’s the point. More importantly, it would not only allow Negan to fully redeem himself, but Negan’s death would also provide the story with some poetic justice. A senseless death would be fitting for a character responsible for so many senseless deaths as leader of The Saviors. It has to happen for The Walking Dead to end on the right note. Negan can help to make the future a better place while also finally facing the consequences of his past actions.
It’s a win-win for everyone.