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TWD Season 9 Left A Negan & Rick Scene On The Cutting Room Floor (And Rightfully So)

Season 9 of "The Walking Dead" featured Andrew Lincoln's early departure from the AMC series. But prior to the Rick Grimes (Lincoln) swan song in Season 9, Episode 5, "What Comes After," the hero had to endure one of his deadliest enemies, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). The villain showed up in the Season 6 finale to bash in some heads, quite literally. And it became clear in Seasons 7 and 8 that the wielder of the barb-wired Lucille and the protagonist weren't destined to get along. So, it shouldn't surprise anyone that a dream sequence in which Negan actually helps Rick push past his serious wound and wake up from those crazy delusions never made it on-screen.

During the episode, Rick found himself experiencing a number of dreams in which he conversed with bygone and living "TWD" characters. But it seemed ill-suited to have Negan show up in Rick's mind. "We had talked about having Negan rise up and be part of that episode, but in the end, it didn't feel like the right reflection," showrunner Angela Kang said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. 

Kang took the reins of "TWD" for its final three seasons, and she rode the post-apocalyptic series home. Her tenure overseeing the show included a number of milestone moments. One of those touchstones was Lincoln leaving the program, but she also had the power to ax the aforementioned deleted scene between Rick and Negan.

Rick didn't dream of Negan

Fans bid farewell to Rick Grimes in Season 9, but his exit also marked the earliest portion of showrunner Angela Kang's time overseeing the AMC series. During Rick's departure, there was initially a chance for Negan to actually pile onto the group's leader as he bled out, but that overwrought dream sequence only made it as far as the cutting room floor.

"Negan's a figure that needles Rick, and it felt more like he needed characters that, even though Shane sort of does the same thing, Shane and Rick also had a friendship and Rick has some regrets there," Kang said during the same interview. During Season 9, Episode 5, "What Comes After," Rick passes out from his bloody wound, and he suffers a hellacious nightmare featuring his friend-turned-foe, Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal).

"And it felt like having characters that just really were pushing him to embrace the strength of moving forward was more what he needed as these hallucinations went on, rather than just somebody who was really kind of an enemy in the moment," Kang continued. "Because I think Rick got this emotional wound from seeing all these dead bodies. It didn't need Negan on top of it to drive that point home." While Negan didn't find his way into one of Rick's dreams, and rightfully so, the show's protagonist got the chance to say goodbye to Hershel (Scott Wilson), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Michonne (Danai Gurira) before his apparent death.