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The Walking Dead: Dead City Theory - The Croat Was The Previous Leader Of The Sanctuary

For fans of "The Walking Dead," there's no question that the upcoming spin-off series "The Walking Dead: Dead City" is one of the most highly anticipated shows of 2023, reuniting fans with Negan Smith (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) in a postapocalyptic Manhattan. We know from the series' teaser that "Dead City" will see Negan and Maggie (former mortal enemies who make a tentative "peace" at the end of "The Walking Dead") searching Manhattan for Maggie's abducted son, Hershel Rhee (Logan Kim).

Although we don't know many specifics about the plot of this upcoming series, @TWDUfilming on Twitter reported in April that the primary antagonist is a former Savior named "the Croat" (Zeljko Ivanek), who lost his ear during a vicious beating by Negan (using his trustworthy spiked bat, Lucille). This unconfirmed rumor was quickly hidden after the account in question went private, but not before being screenshot by @emilysdoodles, leading Jennifer Renson of Fansided to theorize that the Croat could actually be the original leader of the Sanctuary, whom Negan deposed to gain power.

We know that Negan seized the Sanctuary from its allegedly inadequate former leader, though because we never meet this leader, it's possible that he's been biding his time and waiting for revenge. This theory could supply a logical explanation for why the Croat is after Negan all these years later while also adding some more flavor to Negan's bloody backstory.

There are several holes in this theory

Although it certainly would be interesting to see a character from Negan's past return on a bloodthirsty quest for vengeance (something Maggie Rhee can certainly relate to), there are a few major holes in this theory — namely the fact that the Croat was able to walk away from Negan's wrath with only a scar.

Longtime fans will know that Negan's reign of murder began when his wife Lucille (Hilarie Burton) died by suicide while he was being held captive by a motorcycle gang named Valak's Vipers, leading him to return to the Vipers' hideout and execute them all. Since then, he has been seen multiple times throughout the series murdering enemies and rebellious Saviors alike without any remorse. As such, it seems unlikely that the Croat would have been allowed to survive if he were the former Sanctuary leader — or even a former member of the Saviors, as the original tweet theorizes.

On top of that, it doesn't make sense why the Croat and his gang would kidnap Hershel — unless perhaps they believe he is Negan's son due to some miscommunication. Despite the numerous holes in this theory, it would certainly be very interesting to learn that the mysterious villain known as the Croat actually has a connection to Negan's past — and it will be interesting to see what his true motivations are once "Dead City" premieres on June 18.