While fans of The Walking Dead have had to endure months of speculation after the frustrating cliffhanger that capped off Season 6 earlier this year failed to provide the answers they were looking for, the show’s creative staff has arguably had it much worse, enduring months of intense backlash for their decision to not reveal the identity of Negan’s victim at the end of last season.
With The Walking Dead’s Season 7 premiere airing this Sunday, the long wait is finally about to end and no one is perhaps more eager to get to the other side of Sunday than showrunner Greg Nicotero, who has received more vitriol from angry fans than perhaps anyone else. Nictotero recently sat down with ComicBook.com to discuss the upcoming season and the conversation naturally veered towards Negan and who he decides to kill in the season premiere.
While Nicotero didn’t reveal the identity of the character that gets beaten to death with Negan’s now-iconic barbed wire bat Lucille, he did reveal the decision-making process that went into selecting the unlucky candidate and it turns out that it wasn’t a simple case of drawing a name out of a hat.
“That decision was made last year before we ever even got into the finale,” Nicotero said. “That story, that was all sort of broken within the writers room. If you look back at the history of our show, the death of every single character has provided us with an opportunity to change the direction of the show. Even as far back as Shane and Lori and Hershel and Tyreese and Beth. The show is inherently different after each one of those people was killed. In this instance, the introduction of Negan and the death of this person, it really does provide us with a pretty substantial course change because that’s really what the season was leading up to last year.”
Unsurprisingly, Nicotero lays the blame for the unfortunate situation the Alexandrians currently find themselves in entirely on Rick Grimes’ shoulders, arguing that the former Sheriff’s overconfidence is what got them on the wrong side of Negan’s bat.
“Listen, Rick Grimes thinks he’s got a handle in things,” Nicotero said. “He thinks he knows what’s in store for him out there. He thinks he knows that he can take on anybody that comes in his way. The truth of the matter is he can’t and he doesn’t. The fact that Rick was overly confident because he underestimated the world and the people out there, they pay for it. It’s a really unique opportunity to change the direction of the show because our world just got bigger and that’s something that we talked a lot about last season. How excited we were to be able to open up the world into the Hilltop and the Sanctuary and the Kingdom and get a much larger view of what the universe of The Walking Dead consists of.”
The Walking Dead returns October 23 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.