Jeffrey Dean Morgan hints old-school Negan is back on The Walking Dead: Dead City

A nod. That's how Negan's story on The Walking Dead ended — with the ultimate villain turned uneasy alliance partner trading nods of respect through a window with his former adversary Daryl Dixon. But while that may have been the end of Negan's story on The Walking Dead series, it is far from his end in The Walking Dead franchise. That's because Negan's story will be picking back up in the new spin-off The Walking Dead: Dead City, hitting AMC in April.

The man who plays Negan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, already confirmed that the nod to Daryl was also a goodbye. "He's not sticking around," Morgan told EW in November of the finale. "He's going off to start a family and kind of start over. He has that bit to Daryl, and then he's off. That's it. I think that they've all reached an understanding. There's been a level of acceptance with Negan, which I think has been a hard-fought battle for Negan. And, of course, then he leaves. He and his wife are going off."

Dead City
Dead City

AMC Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan on 'The Walking Dead: Dead City'

Where to is a bit unclear, but at least we know where Negan will end up. Dead City will take place a few years down the line and in a new unforgiving environment — New York City. But while we will have a new show and a new location, will we have a new Negan? We spoke to the big-bad-turned-kinda-good man himself, and Morgan actually says to expect a bit of the opposite, hinting that the Negan we see on Dead City — fresh off being isolated from a supportive community — could be something of a throwback to Negan 1.0.

"I think time apart probably will make it worse," says the actor. "Negan has an opportunity to kind of fall into some old habits, because it's all a survival mechanism for him, especially if he's not with the group. The group kind of tamed him in a lot of ways, and to fit in, he had to stop being who he was. And I think away from this group, he is likely to fall into some old traps and old behaviors."

Negan's survival instinct can serve him well or lead him morally astray — often at the same time. "Look, it's an apocalypse," says Morgan. "We know how Negan has survived. We have seen him in his progression on how he's survived and what he does to adapt, and I think he will always be adaptable in any situation. But away from people, he doesn't do well."

Dead City
Dead City

AMC Lauren Cohan (center) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan on 'Walking Dead: Dead City'

While Negan and Maggie's (Lauren Cohan) story on The Walking Dead ended with the duo finally reaching the closest thing to an understanding the at-odds pair ever had, don't expect that détente to necessarily continue in the Big Apple. "As uneasy of an alliance it is that Maggie and Negan have, I think Negan being out of Maggie's line of sight for a couple years is still never going to make what happened for her go away," says Morgan. "I don't know if us getting along in any way is going to last. I don't know if it can."

And it looks like the problem is… well, Negan. "Negan is a bit of a screwup," laughs Morgan. "He's just that guy that you want to smack. He's a punchable guy, and I understand that, being the guy that says the stuff that comes out of his mouth. I want to punch him sometimes!"

Bottom line: Negan having been away from the group and then reunited with, of all people, Maggie is not going to be smooth sailing. "Look, we know that he's going to run off to New York City," Morgan says. "It's him and Maggie, and there's not a lot of people with him. So, if I do the math on this, he's going to be in trouble. It's going to be a bad combination for him."

Let's just hope there is a post-apocalyptic baseball bat shortage in New York City.

Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.

Related content: