This Walking Dead article contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead comic has come to a surprising end, with zombie Rick Grimes six feet under and the remaining survivors of the long post-apocalyptic ordeal moving on with their lives in the new world. In this week’s The Walking Dead #193, writer Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard conclude the stories of Carl, Michonne, Maggie, and the rest, giving us several happy endings and a few bittersweet ones, as all the characters ruminate on Rick’s legacy.
One character who gets a surprising bit of closure is Negan, the series’ most infamous villain, who, after tormenting Rick and company as the leader of the Saviors and then fighting alongside Rick against the Whisperers, went into exile. What’s so surprising about Negan’s ending in #193? The fact that he doesn’t really get one beyond a few hints as to what he’s been up to since being freed and leaving his bat-swinging days behind.
The series’ final issue reveals that Negan has settled in a house in an abandoned town called Springhaven in the outskirts of the walker-free safe-zone where the “Colonies” are located. (The Colonies are the towns and settlements governed and protected by the Commonwealth in the future.) We learn that an adult Carl visits the house once in a while to drop off supplies on his way to other parts of the Colonies. But Negan has no interest in actually seeing Carl, and when Carl knocks on his front door while on a messenger run with Lydia, there’s no answer.
Lydia comments that she doesn’t know why Carl even bothers since Negan never seems to be there, but the adult son of Grimes is hopeful, pointing out that someone is using the supplies, even if they’re hiding from him. Carl expresses that he’s kept seeking out Negan because he’s one of the few people left from “The Trials” (what the people of the new world call the zombie apocalypse) who actually knew his father.
“There’s this unspoken thing…this sense of ‘you were there, you know,'” Carl tells Lydia. “He’s not just a myth to them. He’s real. It…keeps him real for me.”
Carl doesn’t get to reconnect with the former villain, and we don’t get to see him until one of the issue’s final panels, when he’s kneeling before the headstone that marks his wife Lucille’s grave. That’s all we get of Negan in the book, a quiet moment for a villain who once presented himself as a larger-than-life figure.
What did Negan get off to after Maggie spared his life in #174? We don’t get any answers, but we have to assume that Negan eventually found peace in his solitude. Does he deserve that peace after all the evil things he did during his time as a Savior? That’s ultimately not for us to decide, and Kirkman doesn’t give us any easy answers.
The Walking Dead #193 is out now.