Fan theories that explain how Negan got so damn evil help give viewers a glimpse into The Walking Dead’s most formidable villain (so far). Was he a cop, con artist, serial killer, sports nut, or just garden-variety asshole? At this point, does it even matter? Dude’s got complete mind control over everyone.
How exactly did Negan become Negan, though? Did a mild-mannered man become a killer after his wife, Lucille, died? Did something horrible happen to her and he snapped? Or did this new world of the dead suit him just fine – allowing him to finally just be himself?
What is Negan’s history? And how will that history help Rick and the gang find Negan’s Achilles heel? There’s just so many questions surrounding the mystery that is Negan. With Season 7 laid out before us, who knows if we’ll get a 90-minute episode that focuses on Negan’s past in the real world, loving Lucille and teaching kids ping-pong? Here’s hoping it happens!
Keep reading below for fan theories on Negan’s past – before the apacolypse and immediately after it happened – and hints at what might motivate this monster, and why.
He Was a School Teacher and Coach
This is more than just a theory. It’s officially part of the character’s backstory. But don’t worry, he wasn’t a very good teacher or coach at all, humiliating his own students – and he may have had other careers on the side or washed out of another profession before taking up teaching. Seriously, he’s an awful mentor. What else may he have been up to? Image Comics revealed that he also has a significant other – could that be Lucille, or is it someone else?
He Was a Good Guy, Then Bad Things Happened
ClemFan2012 theorizes that Negan, like the Governor, may have started out as a nice guy and then terrible things happened to him. “Had a wife and child possibly. Then after the world ended I agree with you maybe his wife was raped and murdered and that is why maybe he is against rape.”
He Was Always Just an Asshole, Nothing More
Redditor Has_No_Gimmick doesn’t think there’s much more to Negan than what we see already. He’s always been a douche. He just had boundaries.
“Negan thrives in a world without any mechanisms in place to enforce civility and the rule of law, but within a civilized society, he’d just be written off as an asshole. I can picture him being the guy at the deli trying to jump to the head of the line, only for the clerk and the other customers to roll their eyes at him. ‘What? Come the f*ck on, I only want this loaf of bread. What’s the big fuckin’ deal?’ — ‘Sir, you’ll need to move to the back of the line. Now.’
I dunno. I just see him being a really frustrated and powerless person before the world ends. A dude suffering from arrested emotional development, now finally living out his every fantasy of being a real man who gets his way.”
He Is a Con Artist
Whatever story you’ve heard, Negan wants you to believe it, because the simple truth is you’ll never really know. He’s a master of deception, and in the wasteland, he can continue using his con artist skills to manipulate reality, just as he did before the world fell.
Negan Is Looking for Redemption
If you agree with the theory that Negan snapped after his wife’s death and just before the zombie apocalypse, then maybe you’ll buy the theory that he’s weary of being obeyed so completely. He’s intrigued by Carl and Daryl because they don’t frighten easily. Maybe it reminds him of his own lost humanity.
There’s also the notion that he failed his wife, that she was raped, and he is trying to reclaim that ground.
He Peaked in High School, Then the Apocalypse Happened
Mazpro over at The Walking Dead Wiki believes that the fall of man was just what Negan needed to become someone in this world. “Personally, I always theorized he was some asshole in high school that got washed up after he graduated. When the outbreak happened, he took his wife and survived with his biker friends.”
He Is a Serial Killer
Negan was always a killer, keeping it from his wife, living the quiet life of coach and teacher. When he loses his wife, there’s no reason to keep up the facade. And when the apocalypse happens, he finds his place in a world where he can truly be himself and take joy from killing.
He Was in the Military
He knows how to make guys fall in line and he’s orchestrated some pretty specific ways to break people, psychologically, using torture. Maybe Negan had a steady gig at a place like Guantanamo, but was so bad and violent there, he was fired in disgrace.
The Sports Nut Became a Nut
Negan really enjoys his sports analogies – an image has revealed that he was a ping pong coach in his past. We also know that he loved billiards. On top of that, his weapon of choice is a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. Maybe he’s just a guy who was really into sports and when the world ended, he lost his mind, but never really lost that desire to knock things around with wooden paddles and sticks?
He Is a Wannabe Rockstar
He probably had a rock band that he formed with other dads in the neighborhood. He had his leather jacket hanging in the closet, always ready. Then the world went to crap, Negan lost everything, and he became the rock star of the wasteland.
He Was Clergy
Sometimes you break good the way Father Gabriel did and sometimes you break bad like Negan. Maybe Father Negan was a priest in another life and left for Lucille – or perhaps he was protestant clergy and happily married? He may have had a fall from grace that left him with only teaching and coaching as career paths. This might help explain why his reaction to Father Gabriel was a deeper dig than he let on: “Ho-Ly crap! You are creepy as sh*t! Sneaking up on me, wearing that collar, with that freaky-ass smile.”