'The Walking Dead's Jeffrey Dean Morgan Is Now A Series Regular, So What Does That Mean For Rick & Everyone Else?

The Walking Dead's impending seventh season will include four new series regulars: Austin Amelio will return as Dwight, Xander Berkely will reprise his role as Hilltop leader Gregory, and Tom Payne's Jesus will also be back. But, the only one we really need to be paying attention to is Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan. The leader of the Saviors made a terrifying The Walking Dead entrance in the Season 6 finale when he mercilessly killed a member of Rick's group (but not before delivering a truly spine-chilling monologue), and now he's back for good. (Or at least for this season.) As for what Negan's status as a series regular on The Walking Dead means for the show? Well, I think we can conclude one thing: It means that now more than ever, no one is safe.

Negan's only been in one scene so far, but his presence is about to shake the entire foundation of the show. For one, the Saviors storyline won't be coming to an end anytime soon, and that means more violence. We left Season 6 with arguably the biggest cliffhanger in TWD history — an unidentified cast member at the other end of Negan's baseball bat Lucille. But, with Negan (and Lucille) now series regulars, we can expect a lot more where that came from. Do I need to say it again? Nobody is immune to Negan's wrath.

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It shouldn't come as a crazy surprise to anyone that Negan will be an integral part of Season 7, considering how Season 6 ended and what we know about his role in TWD comics (Negan happens to be an essential villain that spans across more than 50 issues). In order to please die-hard fans, the role needs to be handled carefully. Negan's a big bad antagonist, and there's no reason he should go anywhere, anytime soon. Which means that the tension between the Saviors and the rest of the settlements will only continue to get worse. Think more brutality, more deaths, and more psychological and physical warfare.

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As for Rick and the rest of TWD regulars? Once we find out who dies at the hands of Lucille first, we're about to understand that he or she could be the first of many. Negan is ruthless and his army of Saviors will do anything to get on his good side. Rick and company had a nice little run of defending themselves against a few Saviors during Season 6, but now that Negan's in the picture, it's going to be a different story.

Although it's anxiety inducing to think about who Negan can (and probably will) threaten next, TWD hasn't had a villain this good since The Governor in Seasons 3 and 4. However it all shakes down, this will definitely make for an unforgettable season.

Images: AMC; Giphy (2)