Why The Walking Dead’s Rick and Negan are similar

Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), The Walking Dead. Photo: Gene Page/AMC
Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), The Walking Dead. Photo: Gene Page/AMC /

The Walking Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple had some interesting insight into how Rick and Negan are more similar than we might realize.

If things were different, it could have been Negan who woke up in the hospital in the first season of The Walking Dead, and somewhere out there Rick could have been amassing the troops at the Sanctuary. While that kind of thinking might be more of a shell game, in which different characters are swapped in different roles throughout the show, what’s more interesting is the idea that Rick and Negan might be more similar than not.

The Walking Dead’s Scott M. Gimple had this to say in an interview with Comicbook.com:

"‘I think if we followed Negan we might even be in the same place that we are with Rick where we’re like, “Whoa. What you’re doing there seems like the behavior of a bad person.” What’s interesting is, I think for Rick’s experience, he’s justified in what he’s been doing. The world has formed him this way and what he’s done has generally been a reaction to being threatened and trying to make sure that his people live. Things are getting greyer and greyer and greyer. But I think the things that Rick has done you can hold up against the things that Negan has done and it’s not a cast gulf between those two but the way that they operate is very different. Their philosophies are very different and that’s maybe where we see one person being the hero and one person being the villain.’"

Over the past few seasons there has been a shift from dealing with Walkers to dealing with survival, and that means facing other people who are willing to kill to get what they want. That has forced Rick to make some tough decisions in order to keep his people safe. In his mind, killing other people should be a last resort, whereas Negan uses punishment as a deterrent. If he sets the example, it will keep his people (and other people who come into his world) from disobeying the rules.

If things were different, it wouldn’t be difficult to see Rick and Negan ruling this new world together. Their philosophies, and histories, will prevent them from ever being friends, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility to see them working toward a common goal should a common enemy get in their way. That’s the way of the zombie apocalypse: Just when you think you’ve seen the worst, there’s always something worse than that. And that might require a temporary truce in order to fight the new enemy. But it’s absolutely true that the two men are more similar than not in the way they think.

More from Undead Walking

What do you think? Are Rick and Negan alike? Could they ever work together? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!