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Rick and Negan Square Off in 'The Walking Dead' Season 8 Finale, but Will Negan Survive?

The introduction of Negan in The Walking Dead’s sixth season polarized viewers, leaving a noticeable divide between the very vocal crowd that wants him to perish in the season finale and those hoping to see him return in season nine. Now that the show is reaching the end of the “All Out War” storyline, one side will get what they have been hoping for.

In Robert Kirkman’s comic series, Rick winds up showing mercy to Negan, but not before giving him a good gash in his throat. The series continues with Negan locked up, forming unique relationships with Rick and Carl. In the television series, Morgan does build a cell, which seemed like foreshadowing to this moment, but there’s no telling whether it survived the Savior attack on Alexandria. Additionally, Carl perished in the second half of season eight, leaving behind notes to Rick and Negan imploring them to pursue peace. But does any of that point to the show following the same trajectory of the comic series?

During an interview in February, Scott Gimple mentioned that the final battle would deviate from the comics, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Negan’s fate would be different. While there’s no official confirmation as to the events of the season finale, there’s at least one hint that things may go in a similar direction as the comics. At the end of episode nine, Rick was seen slumped against a tree, bloodied and battered. Closer examination will show that his right leg appears to be broken - though it could just be a bad camera angle - which matches with the fractured leg Negan gives him in the comics.  Speculation is that, during his final brawl with the leather-clad baddy, Rick will suffer a broken leg and two gunshot wounds, but will still find it in himself to spare Negan’s life. In fact, the only way Carl’s death makes sense is for Negan to live

As The Spoiling Dead Fans forum members point out, Rick showing mercy is the only appropriate outcome considering how long season eight spent harping on Carl’s push for a peaceful resolution. Having killed one of the show’s most popular characters only to have his message be entirely lost doesn’t quite fit into The Walking Dead’s often predictable nature. The show has thrown fans of the comic for a loop on many occasions, changing plotlines and killing off characters regardless of their printed fate, but its handling of Negan likely won’t be too different from Kirkman’s original vision.

Official and substantiated spoilers may not be floating around the internet for the finale, but NinjaPancake, a staff member from The Spoiling Dead Fans, picked up on some rumors that may depict how the final battle plays out. According to the unsubstantiated rumor, Rick and company and the Saviors wind up in a situation viewers have seen them in before - with the former at the mercy of Negan. When Negan gives the order to kill everyone, guns start going off, just not how they’re supposed to. As mentioned in last week’s spoilers, there were going to be two heroes this episode and one of them was Dwight. If the gun’s start exploding in the Saviors’ hands, then Eugene would be that second hero.

From there, the rumor gets fuzzy on what happens, save to say that Negan runs off and Rick gives chase, but there is a good chance it will all unfold as many viewers don’t want - with Negan still alive.

Watch how the end of “All Out War” unfolds during the season finale at 9 pm EST on AMC.