The Walking Dead: How would Merle Dixon handle Negan?

Danai Gurira as Michonne, Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon, The Walking Dead -- AMC
Danai Gurira as Michonne, Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon, The Walking Dead -- AMC /

The Walking Dead’s Merle Dixon is the brother we love to hate. But what would Merle do with a guy like Negan around?

Merle Dixon may be an ass, but he’s a smart guy. Not book smart, but street smart. He knows how to get through difficult situations by manipulating different sides and pitting them against each other. We saw that with how he worked with, and against, the Governor. Merle Dixon is always Team Merle, but how would he react to a guy like Negan running the show?

Recently had the chance to ask that very question of Michael Rooker. Rooker understands men like Negan, because Negan has set forth rules and it’s up to you whether or you follow them. Choose the wrong answer and there are consequences. “Well if you call yourself Negan and you listen to what he’s saying then everything’s cool! But I don’t know if Merle would actually enjoy seeing his friends being abused.”

There are a few noteworthy things about Rooker’s response. Granted, Rooker is Rooker and he speaks off the cuff and from the heart so it’s hard to tell if Merle really would be “cool” with following Negan’s rules. Merle is smart enough to realize that “half of all your stuff” really means whatever Negan wants, so this would pose a huge problem to a guy like Merle who puts himself ahead of everyone, with the occasional exception to his brother.

Speaking of Daryl, we know that Daryl’s reaction to Abraham’s death is what led to Glenn’s death. Had Merle been there, perhaps he would have shut Daryl down before he got up. Daryl is more reactive in situations like that, whereas we’ve seen with Merle that he’s one to take full measure of a situation and figure out how to exploit the situation and ensure his own survival.

That brings me to another observation. Most fans are in agreement that Simon is the perfect lieutenant to Negan while Dwight is operating under duress. (And personal gain, to some extent) Merle worked well with the Governor because Merle was able to be the bad guy, the enforcer, the muscle. The Governor wanted to maintain his reputation in Woodbury, so it was Merle that people feared. I don’t think Merle would be enthusiastic about going out and working in Negan’s name. He’d surely slip up somewhere and find himself on Lucille’s barbed-wire business end.

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What do you think? How do you think Merle would handle being around Negan and the Saviors?