‘The Walking Dead’: The Origin Story Of Negan, Norman Reedus’s Daryl, And Andrew Lincoln’s Rick [Opinion]

Did The Walking Dead’s apocalyptic setting change Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan more or less than Norman Reedus’s Daryl or Andrew Lincoln’s Rick? What tragedy made Negan become Negan? Find Negan’s origin story below. What Negan was like before the zombie apocalypse filled the world with walkers?

The Walking Dead’s zombie apocalypse situation has obviously changed Andrew Lincoln’s Rick and possibly even Norman Reedus’s Daryl. Daryl seems to thrive on the hardships, but recently Rick seems a lot worse for the wear as he struggles with decisions.

Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus have characters who believe they are the good guy, but perhaps Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character believes he is the good guy, too. What does this situation look like from Negan’s perspective? Many of his lines in The Walking Dead make it clear he’s not guilt ridden, nor does he believe he is wrong.

Negan of The Walking Dead has not revealed his pre-zombie apocalypse origin story in the AMC TV series, while over the years, Norman Reedus has made it clear where Daryl is coming from, and Andrew Lincoln’s Rick’s backstory is part of The Walking Dead‘s first season.

Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln’s characters, as well as most of the characters on The Walking Dead, clearly reveal their origins, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character hasn’t revealed his origin story on TV.

Without Negan’s origin story, it’s very difficult to understand how Negan got from a regular guy to his current psychopathic leadership position, but the comic books have answers about Negan’s past.

“Here’s Negan,” a 2016 origins story comic book spinoff series by Robert Kirkman, details what life was like right before The Walking Dead’s Zombie apocalypse.

The Walking Dead’s Daryl, portrayed by Norman Reedus, has, unlike the other characters, managed to maintain his own sanity with very little difficulty. Perhaps it was Norman Reedus’ portrayal of Daryl’s tough upbringing that hardened him to hardships that most people in the post-apocalyptic scenario find overwhelming.

Norman Reedus’ Daryl has inferred that life was not that different for him since the zombie apocalypse depicted in The Walking Dead. Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon had always suffered, and now the rest of the world has similar problems. Does that help Daryl cope better than most?

Norman Reedus and Jeffery Dean Morgan of The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln portrays a small town cop who was a family man before The Walking Dead’s zombie plague fell upon the world. Andrew Lincoln’s Rick had stability in his previous life, as well as a strong sense of right and wrong.

Negan, it turns out, was a teacher and a ping pong coach. Yep, Negan was a high school coach, and ironically his sport was ping pong, so suddenly the origin story starts to make sense.

The Walking Dead’s Negan was also a bit of a bully, and mercilessly ridiculed his students even before The Walking Dead’s zombie apocalypse, according to Comic Book. Negan also displayed a need to be considered “cool,” even as a teacher.

Andrew Lincoln’s Rick being a cop, with an overpowering sense of morality, leaves him second-guessing himself, and like Carol and Morgan, he regrets the need to kill. Andrew Lincoln’s character is perpetually torn between morality and necessity.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, being a biker and a drifter and little brother to someone perhaps not that different from Negan in persona, has a built-in understanding of Negan as a bully. Norman Reedus’ character likely has at least some insight into Negan’s psyche.

Negan’s origin story, before his appearance on The Walking Dead, was colorful as well as tragic, according to Digital Spy. Negan’s wife, Lucille, was a cancer victim. When Negan found out his wife had cancer, the first thing he did was break up with his girlfriend. Negan was a cheater, but when he discovered his beloved Lucille was dying, he suddenly became very devoted.

The Walking Dead fans recall that Andrew Lincoln as Rick lost his wife in childbirth in the series. The baby wasn’t even his, but his best friend Shane’s. Norman Reedus as Daryl was already part of the group at the time.

Negan knew adultery from the other side, but the loss was equally painful. Negan lost Lucile in a hospital, just as the first zombies were closing in. Negan refused to leave his wife’s side until she passed, and of course turned. He had barricaded himself in the hospital room, but he made a swift escape, then sent someone else to put his wife, now a zombie, out of her misery.

Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus

The Walking Dead is a chronicle of loss. Andrew Lincoln’s Rick lost his wife, his best friend, and most of the people in his hometown. Norman Reedus’ character, Daryl Dixon, lost his brother. There is little time to mourn the dead, and the undead, so everyone must move on.

The Walking Dead’s Negan, too, moved on, making friends throughout the early months of the zombie apocalypse, but they always got killed. Negan was always the sole survivor of every group he found until he met Dwight. Along the way, he picked up Lucile (the bat) from a fellow traveler who, of course, died in the zombie apocalypse.

Like Andrew Lincoln’s Rick and Norman Reedus’ Daryl, Negan is a survivor. Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan all portray determined fighters. Virtually everyone who survived the initial zombie attack was either a fighter or had a good place to hide, like Alexandria, for example.

The Walking Dead’s zombie populated world is unforgiving to the weak, the slow, and the unlucky. Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln portray their characters in a way that shows their choices in life. Negan too took his fate into his own hands.

Once, a group left Negan behind. Dwight and the others assumed Negan was dead, but when they gathered their courage to return, Negan had beat off a hoard of zombies single-handedly. The group made Negan their leader.


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The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon has gone from a drifter following in his rough biker brother’s footsteps, to a vital member of a community. Overall, zombies aside Alexandria is a socioeconomic step up from anything Norman Reedus’ character has known before.

Andrew Lincoln’s Rick was an upstanding member of the community before, and now he is the leader of a community. The Walking Dead’s zombie apocalypse, however, has left Andrew Lincoln’s character with tougher decisions than he could have ever imagined before the walkers took over the world.

Andrew Lincoln’s Rick found it tough to decide to fight Negan, due to the risks and potential for casualties involved. Now though Andrew Lincoln’s Rick is resolved, and Norman Reedus’ Daryl is past ready to fight back. Maggie, Carol, and Michonne are all ready to fight Negan.

The Walking Dead’s Negan, Andrew Lincoln’s Rick and Norman Reedus’ Daryl have all survived a zombie apocalypse, but now Negan has to go in “All Out War.”

[Featured Image by John Sciulli/Getty Images]