As we celebrate the return of The Walking Dead today (a week early for AMC+ subscribers), we can’t help but look back at some of the most intense moments of the series. From Rick’s first steps out of that Georgia hospital, the show has been a non-stop thrill ride (well, except for a couple seasons in the middle there) that never ceases to surprise us.
Many fans would agree that one of the most shocking and divisive scenes from the entire series is when Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) smashes Glenn’s head with Lucille the bat. It was one of the factors that led to the decline of the show’s viewership and, despite that scene being in the comics, it surprised many viewers to the point of anger.
Speaking with Insider, Jeffrey Dean Morgan admits that his most infamous scene is also one he regrets.
“I wouldn’t have killed Glenn,” Morgan says to Insider when asked if he had any regrets for his character that was first introduced in Season 6. “Yeah. That was probably a bad decision.”
Originally, Morgan was thrilled to be cast on the post-apocalyptic zombie show at the height of its popularity. He stated back in 2015 that he was excited to play a bad guy because he was worried about being typecast as a good guy from previous roles, but when he discovered that he’d be playing Negan, he was up for the unique challenge.
“Is there any heart in Negan?” Morgan said at the Supernatural’s PasCon convention in 2015. “I look at that as a challenge as an actor and that’s the kind of thing that I embrace and really look forward to.”
You might remember that Negan showed up in Season 6 and ended the season on quite a cliffhanger when he took his bat to the head of an unknown character. Of course, in the comics, it was Glenn who died, but the show decided to take a bit of a detour and make Abraham the first of Negan’s victims. But it wasn’t long before Glenn’s fate was sealed and just like that, people stopped watching.
Viewer numbers reached a second-best high of 17.03 million with that fateful Season 7 premiere (the highest being the Season 5 premiere), but quickly plummeted to almost half that by Season 8.
Of course, despite Morgan’s regret over his character, it wasn’t really his choice to begin with. “I think that we have to kind of go with what we are given and [what] we all have — not that I haven’t fought with writers over what the hell I have to do, but, you know — in the end, it is what it is,” he continued.
Since that time, Morgan says that he has tried to intervene with scenes that he felt didn’t work. In August, Morgan discussed the scene in Season 11 when he left Maggie (Lauren Cohan) for dead.
“I had talked to Lauren and I had talked to Norm [Reedus] and then I called Angela and I was like, ‘This is a horrible idea. Any good that we have done is immediately gone,'” Morgan said.
But has Negan’s turn-around in Season 11 been believed by fans? Is this new nice-guy Negan for real, and despite Morgan’s initial excitement over not playing a good guy, will his character inevitably head in that direction as “atonement” for what he did to Glenn (and the fans)? I, for one, am not buying it.
But we’ll see how the rest of this season plays out as the second part of Season 11 resumes today on AMC+ and next Sunday, February 20, on AMC. And if you’re interested in more of my take on each episode of this final season, be sure to keep an eye out for my recaps and reviews each week.