To understand the context in “Dead City,” some basic facts from “The Walking Dead” are crucial.
If you haven’t watched “The Walking Dead” at all or have only seen parts of it but want to dive into “The Walking Dead: Dead City” when the series premieres in Germany on October 13, 2023, on MagentaTV, you might be wondering if you need to have watched the original series and to what extent to follow the events of the “TWD” spin-off.
Before “Dead City”: How Much of “The Walking Dead” Should You Have Watched? Sometimes, spin-off series can stand alone and work for the audience without having seen the parent series. For example, “Fear the Walking Dead” initially told its own story before intertwining with “The Walking Dead” over the years with storylines from the original show.
In the case of “The Walking Dead: Dead City,” we have to disappoint you: With Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan), the zombie spin-off focuses on two main characters from the original series, and their backstory is essential to the plot of the new title. So, the short answer is yes, you should definitely have watched “The Walking Dead” before diving into “Dead City,” preferably the entire series. In Season 11, the relationship between Maggie and Negan reaches a whole new level just before the finale.
But don’t worry. If you are new to “The Walking Dead” franchise or if, like around 15 million U.S. viewers, you haven’t kept up with the series until the end (via Statista), we will summarize all the important incidents and events related to Maggie and Negan below. This way, you can acquire the necessary background knowledge and enjoy “The Walking Dead: Dead City” without having to catch up on 177 episodes of the main series.
Maggie and Negan Share One of the Most Brutal Scenes in “The Walking Dead” First and foremost, while Maggie became a central character as early as Season 2, Negan joined the show in the finale of the sixth season. Their first encounter was also the most significant and is considered by many fans as the most shocking moment in the entire history of “The Walking Dead”:
To ensure Maggie’s medical care, who is pregnant and suffering from a high fever at the time, she, along with Rick (Andrew Lincoln), her husband Glenn (Steven Yeun), and other allies, sets out for Hilltop. However, they are repeatedly prevented from passing through by a hostile group called the Saviors because Rick refuses to make a deal with them. Additionally, Rick’s group had previously killed many Saviors.
As a result, the leader of the Saviors, who introduces himself as Negan, seeks revenge. He not only forces the travel group to give up all their belongings but also wants to repay past actions with a human life. Using a counting rhyme, Negan decides who he will bludgeon to death with his baseball bat, Lucille.
In the opening of the seventh season, we learn that Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) was the chosen one. Out of rage, Daryl (Norman Reedus) then attacks Negan, but he is immediately overpowered. Consequently, Negan is compelled to take another person’s life in the most brutal manner. He chooses Glenn, taking away not only Maggie’s beloved but also the father of her unborn child. This fact forms the basis for the vengeful feud that runs through the entire plot of “The Walking Dead” from that point on.
The Bitter Truth: Negan and Maggie Arrive at an Enlightening Revelation In a bitter war that lasted for two seasons and cost many lives, Rick and the allied communities of Hilltop, Alexandria, and the Kingdom actually managed to eliminate the Saviors. Contrary to Maggie’s wishes, Negan was spared after surviving a knife attack on his throat. This temporarily led to Maggie’s rift with Alexandria and the leadership style of Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira).
In Season 9, Maggie and Negan meet again when the young mother travels to Alexandria and pays a visit to Negan in his cell, intending to kill him. However, before she can carry out her plan, Maggie realizes that Negan actually wishes for death to be with his deceased wife, Lucille, and death would be a release for him.
Thanks to Judith’s (Cailey Fleming) mercy, Negan finally manages to attempt an escape from Alexandria. However, this escape shows him that there is nothing left outside the communities worth living for. Consequently, the former leader of the Saviors decides to return to the safety of the walls. Although those around him cannot forget the past, Negan gradually becomes a helping hand. He ultimately proves his importance to the security of Hilltop and Alexandria by risking his life to single-handedly kill Alpha (Samantha Morton), the leader of the Whisperers, the most dangerous enemy the communities have faced to date.
You can learn more about Alpha’s backstory in the spin-off “Tales of the Walking Dead,” which is also available for streaming on MagentaTV.
After years of torment, Negan apologizes for his actions. Although he becomes a member of the previously unknown community of Riverbend during the eleventh season, responsible for protecting Maggie’s son Hershel (Kien Michael Spiller) from the Commonwealth troops, Maggie cannot forgive him. Every time Negan encounters Maggie, he fears that she will exact revenge on him.
However, in the series finale, a significant scene unfolds: Negan finally comprehends Maggie’s emotional world after fearing not only for his own life but also for the life of his new, now pregnant wife Annie (Medina Senghore). As a result, he plans to kill the selfish and ruthless Commonwealth leader Pamela Milton (Laila Robins) for Maggie’s sake to protect her. He expresses himself as follows:
“If you blow Pammy away with that thing, all hell will break loose for you. And you’re not coming back. But you have to come back. So I’ll take that over. When I was on my knees last night, when I almost lost my wife and my… when I almost lost everything, that’s when I realized how you must have felt. Maggie, I certainly owe you more than that, but I’m so sorry for what I took from you and what I took from your son.”
While Maggie doesn’t forgive him, she accepts his apology. They join forces for the first time to end Pamela’s reign of terror in the Commonwealth. This leads to an important realization for Maggie:
“Your words bothered me. And I want to thank you. I always wondered if you would ever say that. And whether I can ever forgive you. But now I know: I can’t do it. Glenn was wonderful. I will never love anyone like that again. I remember his smile and his kindness […]. But when I look at you, all I see is the baseball bat killing him, the blood on his face. I hear his voice. I hear him calling for me. How he dies and you laugh at him. And I can’t forgive you. Although I am grateful to you for saving my son. And I also know that you are trying. I’m trying hard too because I don’t want to hate you anymore. I don’t want to suffer from it. And I don’t want my son to see that someone has that kind of influence on me. If you want to stay with Annie, you deserve it. And if sometimes I can’t look at you or work with you or see ahead, that’s why. Because all I have left are the memories. And I don’t want to remember Glenn like that.”
Despite the generous offer, Negan has decided against staying in Hilltop or Alexandria. Instead, he and Annie have left the communities, as revealed in a letter to Judith. Several years later, the spin-off “The Walking Dead: Dead City” picks up the story and reveals that this decision did not prove beneficial for either side. To learn more about how Negan and Maggie feel about their past in the meantime and how their characters have developed, or even regressed, tune in to MagentaTV from October 13, 2023.