The Walking Dead returned for Season 9 on Sunday, and while many big characters made their return, Season 8 villain Negan did not. Showrunner Angela Kang explained (via Comicbook) why the big bad was left out of the premiere even though portions of the episode seemed to directly reference him:
The previous story, All Out War, was so Negan-driven, and I think when we enter this new chapter of the show, it’s a year and a half later, and the people are trying to move on. And so it’s like we’re trying to see the people in a world without Negan, except that Negan hangs over all the proceedings. There’s all these scenes where they don’t even say Negan, but it’s about Negan.
Negan will appear in episode 2, and we’ll get to see what he thinks of what he thinks of what Rick has accomplished 18 months after the end of Season 8. Negan’s been locked up that entire time, and The Walking Dead crew has teased we might see a very different Negan when Rick goes down to visit.
Are you excited to see Negan return? The Walking Dead airs Sundays on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET.