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How Negan's Backstory In The Walking Dead Changed From The Comics

Batter up! Here's Negan: After haunting AMC's The Walking Dead for several seasons, it's finally time to take a peek into the past of the controversial antagonist played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and learn the origins of Negan's trusty baseball bat, Lucille — and why he's so obsessed with it. Through a series of flashbacks, the season 10 finale, "Here's Negan," takes a tragic trip down memory lane with Negan, beginning with his unearthing of the bat in the present. However, some of the details of his past are changed from the comic source material. Lucille, of course, is at the center of it all.

In the episode, we get a glimpse of his life, pre-apocalypse: he was an unemployed gym teacher, got fired for a violent outbreak, and was cheating on his wife, Lucille (Hilarie Burton-Morgan). But when she's diagnosed with cancer, he changed his behavior and doted on her as the apocalypse broke out. Though he wasn't fired for assaulting a man in the comics, it's at the start of the apocalypse that his TV-backstory takes a hard turn from the source material.

In the comics, Lucille doesn't live past the outbreak

While the Walking Dead TV series shows Negan trying to keep a sick Lucille alive during the outbreak of the undead in the comics, she dies much earlier in the comic books. In the source material, Lucille is still in the hospital and dies at the very beginning of the outbreak. According to The Walking Dead Wiki, when she passes and becomes undead, Negan saves a teenage boy and asks him to put down Lucille. Then, Negan teams up with a string of people who last about as long as a redshirt on Star Trek. He tries to help the people he's with, but becomes jaded after so many of them die.

In contrast, in the series, Negan leaves Lucille alone to find chemotherapy drugs after their stash spoils. While trying to steal them, he's knocked out with a baseball bat and meets some doctors. After telling them about his wife, they kindly let him go. But then he's kidnapped by a gang that forces him to give up the medicine's location. When Negan returns to Lucille, he finds she killed herself and has turned into a walker. He burns down the house and then rescues the doctors, brutally killing the gang members. It's here that Negan realizes who he can be in the wake of the apocalypse — he doesn't have to abide by society's rules anymore.

In the comic volume, "Here's Negan," he has a different first kill, though it's similar in spirit. Instead of the gang members torturing the doctors, he kills a man who intends to join his newfound survivor group. At first, Negan welcomes him in, but upon learning the man is a sexual predator who treats women like objects, he brutally kills him with the bat. While his story is different between media, both show a sympathetic past to the reviled antagonist and an origin story for his brutal beginnings. In both, his first human kill is in a violent effort to protect people he's deemed good. However, it's also an early sign of his violent problem solving that only becomes more sinister as the apocalypse wears on.