AMC Should Give Jeffrey Dean Morgan the Lead Role on The Walking Dead

Assuming reports of Andrew Lincoln's exit from The Walking Dead are true, the series, which will be entering its 9th season, will need to find a replacement for long-time survivor leader Rick Grimes.

With Lauren Cohan's (Maggie) future on the series also in flux, the obvious choice for new lead actor would seem to be Norman Reedus (Daryl). But, while Reedus, who has been with the series from the start, has obviously paid his dues, I'm not sure he would be the best choice.

Sure, Daryl is a fan favorite and there is part of me that would be interested in seeing how the group's lone wolf handles a position of responsibility. But, I also think the show would be considerably better if AMC offered the lead to Jeffrey Dean Morgan and center the show around the villainous Negan instead.

I have a few reasons for wanting to see this:

1. Negan is just more charismatic. It's not that I don't like Daryl Dixon. It's just I always looked at him as being this show's version of Chewbacca. He's great in a fight and occasionally offers something substantial to the plot. But, in the end, he's really not much more than a sidekick. I'm just not convinced the show's writers will be able to overcome that without changing his character considerably.

Negan, in comparison, is a scene-stealer. Even in a supporting role, he brought new life to a series that had been getting a bit stale and, like him or hate him, he was memorable. Giving him more screen time will only help the show.

2. The apocalypse needs an anti-hero. My biggest complaint about Rick Grimes, at least in the later seasons, is the writers always wanted him to be the good guy.

Yes, he would occasionally cross a line. But, the show always reigned him in just before he made the full transition to villain even though I really think he would have made one heck of a bad guy. And, if Daryl becomes the new leader, that's going to continue to be the case.

They would not have that problem with Negan. Since he is already an established villain, the writers could have him do just about anything and he would stay true to his character.

He wouldn't even need to be an iron-fisted tyrant for this to work. He could, after having his life spared by Rick, go through some self reflection, attempt to tone things down and work more as a member of the team. It's just his personality and history would allow him to resort to his old ways when necessary.

3. He would create an opportunity for more change at the top. Let's face it, Rick Grimes stopped being interesting 2 or 3 seasons ago (if not sooner) and only stuck around because of Lincoln being the show's star. If Reedus is elevated, you can pretty much expect the same because of the whole "if Daryl dies, we'll riot" response from the fans.

If Negan becomes the new leader, then you don't have that same dilemma. Since he isn't necessarily a fan favorite and will be, in theory at least, making unpopular choices, it always leaves the door open for a big change at the top in any given week (kind of like pro wrestling) and maybe even a scenario where Negan is overthrown but survives to once again becomes the main villain.

That is the kind of thing that would have me tuning in to watch every week. Daryl as the top dog honestly doesn't have the same appeal.


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