Carl and Negan’s History
There’s another possibly reason Negan showed up in Carl’s visions and that has to do with Carl’s hope that everyone can be saved.
Carl and Negan had a complicated relationship. In “Sing Me A Song” Carl stowed away in a truck to conduct his own raid on the Sanctuary. He arrived, guns a blazin’, and called out Negan. Negan was impressed, and he took Carl under his wing during his stay at the Sanctuary. Negan respected Carl and treated him like a man. Negan even went as far as to say he didn’t think Rick saw Carl for who he really is. All of this seemed to strike a nerve for Carl, and even though he wanted Negan dead for killing his friends, there was an unmistakable, and undeniable, bond between them.
Jump ahead to the mid-season finale and we see Carl trying to reason with Negan before Negan attacks Alexandria. We didn’t know it at the time, but Carl had been bitten already and so when he offered to forfeit his life to save the community, Negan was impressed. But Carl didn’t stop there. He challenged the leader of the Saviors and wanted to know whether or not this was what he wanted out of all of this. This time the tables were turned, and it was Carl who struck a nerve with Negan, who couldn’t help but consider this.
There is an argument to be made that part of Carl’s wishful thinking included Negan being able to have a place in Rick’s future community, not as an enemy but as an ally.
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In the end, we won’t know exactly why Negan appeared in Carl’s visions, but there are good arguments to be made that having Negan there means that there is peace in the future.