Season 11 of The Walking Dead premiered Sunday night on AMC, and it left a lot of fans angry with the show’s popular antihero Negan for a couple of reasons. Jeffrey Dean Morgan wants you to know that at least one of the things about the episode that may have made you want to punch him was something he fought against. Warning! The following post contains big spoilers for The Walking Dead‘s Season 11 premiere.
As you already know if you’ve seen Acheron: Part 1, the episode ends with a huge cliffhanger. When the heroes are cornered in DC’s metro system by a swarm of walkers, Negan has the chance to save Maggie (Lauren Cohan) from certain death. But at the last minute — presumably because he’s been suspecting Maggie is planning to kill Negan in revenge for his murder of Glenn (Steven Yeun) in the Season 7 premiere — Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character turns from Maggie and leaves her to whatever fate has in store for her.
Believe it or not — as badly as Negan comes off when he leaves Maggie to die — it isn’t the moment Jeffrey Dean Morgan fought to get cut. Instead, he tried to get a name taken out of a line of dialogue. Suspicious that Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Maggie are plotting to kill him in the subway system, Negan says, “I am not gonna let you drag me through the mud, filth, and slime to put me down like a dog. Like Glenn was.”
According to an interview with Entertainment Weekly released on Sunday, Jeffrey Dean Morgan called The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang as soon as he read that line in the script. Introduced as a villain in the series, Negan has since ventured more into antihero territory. Morgan told EW his concern was that “any goodwill that Negan has gotten on his side” with the fans would get flushed as soon as he uttered Glenn’s name, and he likely had good reason to be concerned. As The Daily Mail and others reported at the time, the brutal murders of Glenn and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) in the Season 7 premiere of the series was a shocking and gut-wrenching moment that most fans could do without being reminded of.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan said he was confident the line would get changed, and that during filming it was recorded several different ways, including replacing Glenn’s name with “your husband.” Regardless, it was the originally scripted line that wound up in the final cut. Though he was disappointed with the result, Morgan admitted the line was necessary to lead up to what comes after, including Daryl’s immediate reaction of punching him in the face.
If the Season 7 premiere has soured you on Negan for good, there are two other antiheroes he could be playing in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future. There’s been speculation that Jeffrey Dean Morgan could someday soon find himself playing the Flashpoint version of Batman — an ultraviolent and alcoholic version of the character from a world where Wayne patriarch Thomas Wayne is the only survivor of the mugging in Crime Alley. There’s also the intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo who Morgan has expressed interest in playing for years. While there’s no confirmed Lobo project with Morgan attached, earlier this year on CinePOP the actor hinted he had something “cooking” involving Lobo.