Just in case you’re among the 30% of Americans that are not completely caught up with The Walking Dead… You may want to skip this entry & come back to it.  But if you’re at least through Season 6, I’ll try to tip toe delicately here without giving away any Season 7 spoilers…

And with that out of the way… “Who is Negan?” was a big theme for much of Season 6…  In short, Negan is the BIGGEST of BIG BADS that Rick Grimes’ merry band of survivors has ever faced in the Zombie Apocalypse.  He’s possibly the best villain captured on film since Darth Vader… And that’s saying something for me because Star Wars is near & dear to my heart.

I suppose for the 1% of you that may not be Walking Dead fans, I should back up & give you some context here.  Negan is a 100% Grade “A” NARCISSIST… He is the leader of an extremely violent group of survivors known ironically as The Saviors. And by leader, I really mean brutal dictator.  The guy takes other men’s wives, makes them his own, & flaunts it back in the former husband’s faces.  And those are the people within his own group!  He forces people to kneel to him as a show of submission.  He walks around with a bat covered in barbed wire name Lucille and uses it to intimidate & if necessary, prove a point… or perhaps just reinforce one.  “She’s a vampire bat… And she is thirsty…” he proclaims shortly after bashing in the skull of one unfortunate soul.

But what makes Negan such a great villain is that he’s SO CHARISMATIC.  At times, he can seem downright charming, but do not be fooled because he is also a MASTER MANIPULATOR…  He’ll flash you that winning smile to draw you in today… and then feed you straight to the wolves tomorrow…  if it serves his purposes…

So add all that up and combine it with the one final characteristic…  He’s COMPLETELY convinced that he’s right in doing the things he does.  And from a certain perspective, maybe he is…  He has managed to “save” a large number of people  from likely death and in doing so, has grown the largest group of survivors we’ve yet to encounter in the universe of The Walking Dead.  If you were on your last legs when he found you, you really might think of him as a savior…


While Negan makes for a compelling villain on the big screen, he & his kind can make life quite hellish for others in real life.  It’s been almost 10 years since I ran into my own personal Negan…  And just like Rick Grimes’ group, I was totally unprepared for it. But the similarities go even deeper than that…  Like Rick, I too made some very wrong assumptions about Negan…  Like assuming that adults can agree to disagree without resorting to cheap power plays.  Like assuming people in positions of authority & leadership are worthy of those positions.  And just like on the show, Negan was completely convinced he was right & justified in the way he dealt with me & many others.  He played the manipulation game as well as anyone I’ve ever encountered & as a result, he had a huge “following”, most of whom weren’t even aware of the evil happening right under their noses.

And that brings us to the crux of this blog post… Sooner or later in life, we ALL run into a Negan.  In my case, I didn’t recognize the signs at the time and I paid a price for it.  If I can accomplish anything here, its that I could spare someone else the same pain & suffering.


I’ve just finished reading a great book by Donald Miller called Scary Close and it parallels nicely with this particular topic.  Its all about relationships… healthy ones & otherwise…  In the middle of the book, Don identifies Five Categories of Manipulation and as it relates to this post these are all excellent tools to help recognize when you may have a Negan operating in your midst…

  1. The Scorekeeper… “A Scorekeeper makes life feel like a contest, only there’s no way to win.  Scorekeepers are in control of the scoreboard and frame it any way they want, but always in such a way that they’re winning.”
  2. The Judge… “A Judge strongly believes in right and wrong, which is great, but they also believe they are the ones who decide right and wrong and lord it over others to maintain authority and power.  Right and wrong are less a moral code than they are a collar and leash they attach to others so they can lead them around”
  3. The False Hero… “The False Hero manipulates by leading people to believe they have something better to offer than they do…  You might be dealing with a False Hero when the future they’re describing seems too good to be true.”
  4. The Fearmonger… “Fearmongers rule by making people suffer the consequences of insubordination.  The mantra of the Fearmonger is: If you don’t submit to me I’ll make your life a living hell.  Fearmongers manipulate by making people believe they are strong.  They are never willing to be vulnerable for fear of being perceived as weak.”
  5. The Flopper… “A Flopper is somebody who overdramatizes their victimhood in order to gain sympathy and attention.  Floppers assume the role of victim whenever they can.  This is a powerful and destructive form of manipulation.  In order to be a victim, a person needs an oppressor.”  Hang around a Flopper long enough & that will inevitably become you.

If you start paying closer attention to those you interact with, you’ll find subtle hints of all 5 Types in just about everyone… including YOU!… But with a Negan, there is nothing subtle about it.  Negans are some blend of all 5 Types, but almost always lean most heavily on Fearmongering, Judging, & Scorekeeping as their “go to” forms of manipulation.  If I’d picked up on even one of these traits, I could’ve saved myself and my family a lot of heartache.

So identifying that you’re dealing with a Negan is one thing…  But even if you get that far, you may feel that you can help them see the light…  Help them overcome their tendencies & transform into a healthier version of themselves…  Don offers us some sound advice about dealing with this type of person…

“The harshest people I’ve met over the years have had two things in common:  they don’t fully trust anybody, and they view relationships as a means to an end.”

“You will never have a healthy relationship with a deceptive or manipulative person.”

The reality is… You can’t fix Negan…  And its not your responsibility to do so…  A good friend of mine shared this advice with me a few years ago & its stuck with me ever since…

“We must at all times remember it is not our job to institute change in another’s life, but to be the bringer of good news. Conviction and change is the role of the Holy Spirit. Failure of change is not a lack of the gospel or a condemnation of us, but the indication of the heart of another not yet ready for the movement into abundant transformation.”

So if you can’t help Negan see the error of his ways, what can you do?  In some cases, you may feel a sense of obligation to confront Negan & his manipulations head on…  If you do, you better apply some of the lessons Rick Grimes group had to learn the hard way…  You will need allies… And LOTS OF THEM!…  You’ll also need to recognize that the cost of doing so will almost always be more than you could have ever anticipated…


I hope this somehow helps you & yours…  And if you’re looking for some new reading material, I highly recommend Don’s book.

And for what its worth… the fate of Negan on the show remains unknown.  In the comics the show is based on though, Negan’s ego eventually gets the best of him… And while it took quite a few years to play out, the same was true for my Negan as well…  #karma

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