Who Did Negan Kill? Here’s the Answer.


(Spoiler Alert: turn back now while you still can)

I know whom Negan killed in the season finale of The Walking Dead (TWD). At least I have a good theory of whom he killed. Of course the episode ended with a cliffhanger, sadistically leaving fans to ponder this question for the next six months or so. No one but those behind the scenes actually know who was killed, but if we look closely at the clues in the final scene, we get a good idea. In fact, having an understanding of how film and television is made will give us an almost undeniable answer to the question, “Whom did Negan kill?” Forget the comic. We already know the show is not following the story as presented in the comic. So how do we know for sure?

Film employs a technique known as “set-up and pay-off” in order to build effective and engaging stories. Both the screenwriters and directors are aware of this industry standard and most often use this technique to great effect. TWD has used this often and the pay-off is usually very cleverly done. According to thescriptlab.com, a set-up and pay-off is “a device by which a motif, a line of dialogue, a gesture, behavioral mannerism, costume, prop or any combination of these is introduced into a story and then often repeated as the story progresses, until in the changed circumstances toward the resolution, the planted information assumes a new meaning and “pays off”.”

Understanding how and when this technique is used, reveals who was likely killed by Negan. First, let’s look at the pay-off. The pay-off is obviously the final point-of-view shot of our now-dead mystery character’s head being bashed by “Lucille” and blood streaming down his/her face. The first indication of who this person might be, comes right after the first blow to the skull. Negan, in his best sadistic form, smiles after that first thrash and is pleased by the resilience of his victim, claiming, “Oh look at that. Taking it like a champ!” This tells us that his victim is strong, fearless, and has a hard skull to crack. Knowing this, we can now rule out certain people. It surely cannot be any of the female characters, because based on what we know of each, they are not likely to withstand such a hard blow and remain quiet and motionless. Of course Maggie couldn’t even walk before being captured, so forget her. She’s still alive. The other women, besides Michonne, were all crying. But it can’t be Michonne either.

We can also rule out the whimpering Eugene, who until recently was a sniveling coward that couldn’t even kill a Walker, let alone withstand such a blow. Carl only has one eye, so his point-of view shot would look very different than the way it was shot, and besides, his teenage skull would not likely withstand such an initial blow and still take it “like a champ.” We also know that Rick wouldn’t have remained silent and since we didn’t hear him scream in the background while the lights went out on the victim, it could not be the young zombie killer. With the same reasoning, it could not be Glenn, because Maggie would’ve let out a loud screech of agony, despite instructions from Negan not to say anything. It was not Rick either, because of all our characters, he was probably the most fearful and vulnerable in this final scene, unlike we have ever seen him before. He was practically “peepy pants city” the whole time. In that state, Rick couldn’t handle that first blow “like a champ.” In fact, no one in that group could, except of course for Daryl or Abraham.

This brings us to the set-up. A close look at, and recognition of, the set-up, tells us exactly whom Negan killed. Could it be Daryl? I suppose it could be. But it is not likely. Daryl was bruised and battered before being forced to his knees; so again, he couldn’t take this blow “like a champ.” Therefore, it is obvious that Abraham is the only person in the group that could take this blow and was even willing to take one for the team. Why do I say he was willing? If the significance of Negan’s pleasure after the first blow and his remark that his victim took it “like a champ” is the pay-off, then the set-up is a gesture Abraham makes shortly before Negan actually begins his “eenie meenie mynie mo” game to determine his victim.

Notice as Negan walks up and the down the flank of our beloved characters, that only Abraham raises his chest with pride and fearlessly stares down Negan’s gaze, suggesting to Negan that he’s willing to sacrifice himself so the others can live. He is not afraid of dying and is certainly not afraid of Negan or Lucille. Negan clearly takes note of this and gladly accepts the challenge. The director sets up this gesture in order to prepare us for the inevitable pay-off that Abraham willingly volunteers to be sacrificed, well before Negan even decides whom it will be. Given Abraham’s resilience, strength and rebellious posture in face of such pending brutality, only he could take that first bash by Lucille “like a champ,” remaining upright and not even letting out as much as a whimper, before his lights are cut off. Besides, have you seen the size of Abraham’s head? Who else could take a hit like that and not be killed immediately?

Well, let’s wait until October to see if my theory is correct. One thing is clear; the producers of this show are genius.


About Wilson Santos

Wilson Santos is a writer, filmmaker, music producer, DJ, spoken word artist, graphic designer, entrepreneur and college professor. And he makes a hell of a Mojito too.

Posted on April 4, 2016, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Genius? Hardly. Typical gimmicks.

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