'The Walking Dead's' Andrew Lincoln: Negan May Be on the Horizon

The Walking Dead Neegan Cover - P 2015
Courtesy of Image Comics

The Walking Dead Neegan Cover - P 2015

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from The Walking Dead comic series.]

Two things could be coming soon to AMC's The Walking Dead: sanctuary and a dastardly new villain.

During Sunday's episode of the zombie drama based on Robert Kirkman's best-selling comic series, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his beleaguered group arrived at the gates of Alexandria — the longest-running location featured in the series.

With their arrival comes sanctuary — and the hope of a fresh start — as the survivors will be tasked with seeing if they're still human enough to fit in with a new society of people who also have weathered the zombie outbreak. And for fans of the long-running comic series, it also warns of imminent danger with the potential arrival of villain Negan, who was first introduced in the landmark (and devastating) 100th issue of Kirkman's Image-Skybound series.

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For noncomic-readers, Negan is the leader of a group known as the Saviors that uses fear and violence to control other colonies — including the Alexandria Safe-Zone. Negan has physically and mentally tortured the community outside Washington, D.C., where Rick and company lived for three years. After a bloody battle for the community with the Saviors, Negan captures Rick, Carl, Glenn, Maggie, Sophia, Michonne and Heath and takes control of Alexandria — at a price: one of their lives. (More on that heart-wrenching reveal here.)

Star Lincoln told The Hollywood Reporter after Sunday's episode that Rick's group will encounter "some intriguing people" as the series pushes into its Alexandria storyline. But could Negan be one of them?

"There are astonishingly brilliant and thrilling characters that I am convinced we would be idiots not to meet in our journey; I would be very surprised if we don't see Negan on the horizon in the not-too-distant future," Lincoln told THR. "What struck me, that I've always been excited about, is we're coming into the sixth season of this show ... and it's the medieval part of The Walking Dead comic, where you realize that there are these isolated communities but don't really know other ones exist. But they're all building and forming themselves with their own image. And then there's a clash of those communities. That, to me, is really interesting and when it gets really exciting with all the action. It turns into this insane, near-apocalyptic landscape that we've never seen before. That is almost a reimagining and a restart for society and humanity. And that is such a rich thing to tell."

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While producers have stopped short of confirming Negan's appearance on the series, showrunner Scott M. Gimple told THR ahead of the season-five midseason bow that the character would be "challenging."

"It's such a story turn in the comic," Gimple said at the time. "There's a particular story in that arc that I'm very excited for. But because we know where we're going, we have some opportunities to play around with it and put some things in that will lead up to [Negan and Alexandria] in different ways yet fulfill the story Robert told to the Nth degree by utilizing some slightly different approaches. Lineups and timelines and the whole 9 yards."

Meanwhile, seeds hinting at Negan's appearance on the AMC hit may have been planted all season long. In the season-five trailer that debuted at Comic-Con, one of the Terminus goons swung a baseball bat and nearly killed Glenn (Steven Yeun) in a scene that was eerily reminiscent of the comics — and Negan's "Lucille," a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire that he carries with him. "We can see anything this season. Anything is possible — and good eye," Kirkman told THR in July when asked if Negan was on tap for season five.

Read more Andrew Lincoln Explains Why He Shaved His 'Walking Dead' Beard

Then, in the midseason premiere, Glenn picked up a bat for himself as the group searched for food and supplies in Noah's former housing community. But perhaps the biggest sign that Negan — and the Saviors — may be just around the corner came in the poster for the second half of the season, which subtly depicted two smokestacks peeking out from beyond thick trees, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Sanctuary, where Negan and the Saviors call home.

What do you think? Are you excited to potentially see a new villain arrive on The Walking Dead? Sound off in the comments section below.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC. Stay tuned to THR's The Live Feed for full coverage.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit