Why Alpha Is Already a Better Villain Than Negan on 'The Walking Dead'

Emily Hannemann
Opinion Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead has had a variety of memorable villains over the years: Shane, The Governor, the Terminus crew, the Wolves, Negan. But with the show's introduction of a new antagonist in the unstable, walker-worshipping Alpha, it's become clear all villains are not created equal... and Alpha might have already surpassed her predecessor.

Many fans lamented how long the All Out War storyline took on the show, and Negan's antics — while funny at first — eventually grew stale for many. Maybe that's why Alpha feels like a breath of fresh air; in many ways she's the opposite of what Negan was, and so far, that's been a refreshing change.

Here's why we think Alpha has an edge over Negan.

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Less Comic Relief

Perhaps the most striking difference between Negan and Alpha is the way they relate to the world and convey their thoughts and leadership principles. While Negan’s quips were largely beloved by fans, they got old after a while. The risk with irreverent humor is that sometimes it lands and sometimes it doesn't, and if it doesn't, it can cross over into offensiveness. As such, Angela Kang’s reinvention of Negan as a serious character who still jokes around sometimes has been a welcome change. It certainly made Negan more tolerable, as has his bond with Judith Grimes.

Alpha, on the other hand, doesn’t rely on off-color humor to get her points across or mix innuendoes and threats. She’s threatening enough without needing to add a sexual innuendo, a smirk or a hand on a hip, which makes her easier to watch than Negan had been at times and more believable as a no-nonsense danger to the communities.

Completely Unpredictable

Unlike Negan, Alpha, and the people she leads, are nearly impossible to predict because they don’t operate under the same general morals and principles as the rest of the survivors. While the Saviors were still trying to build a better world, albeit one where Negan was in power, Alpha’s not concerned with the world at large; she’s really only concerned with survival, with moving with the dead until she becomes one of them herself. The Saviors we had seen before, in other groups led by bad, violent men with bad, violent intentions.

The Whisperers are an entirely new breed. Simply put, they are more interesting than the Saviors because they’re crazy. Negan’s group was, on a basic level, the same as Rick’s: they were semi-normal men and women following their leader. The Whisperers follow Alpha, but they also wear dead people’s skins. They’re messed up on a fundamental level shared by those the group faced in the Terminus storyline, which makes for some incredibly good television.

An Equally Scary Right Hand

Yes, Simon was an interesting character (and he was played quite well by Steven Ogg). But if we had to put the two side by side and compare them, there’s almost no contest. Beta would win.

Though Beta doesn’t always have much to say, he speaks volumes with his presence. He’s intimidating without having to work too hard to be scary, and there’s something terrifying about how easy it is for him to switch between giving Alpha advice and demonstrating inhuman brutality. Plus, his outfit is cooler than Simon’s.

A New Level of Brutality

Negan and Alpha might not be tied for “most brutal” at this point — what fan could forget that awful Lucille’ing scene in the Season 7 premiere? — but Alpha’s people did kill our beloved Jesus. That said, if the rest of the season follows the comics, Alpha might surpass Negan in beloved character body count.

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A huge event is coming up, and as with most huge events on this show, it’s a given that everyone won’t make it out alive.

Also notable; while Negan believed people were a resource, Alpha believes people are animals and thus, they’re only good as long as they’re serving the “pack” and not questioning her authority. Her style of leading has already produced some of the most stomach-churning moments on the show (that decapitation scene was awful), and proved she’s willing to go even further than Negan to keep herself in power.

A More Compelling Conflict

Negan’s fight against Rick was epic, even if it dragged on for too long. But other than Negan’s struggle with Alexandria’s leader, there wasn’t that much conflict within the Saviors, other than Dwight’s struggle to play both sides. Alpha, on the other hand, is dealing with conflict from within and without, and her status as one of the only remaining survivors with a blood-related child on the show makes her storyline even more interesting.

Though it’s incredibly difficult to watch Alpha being abusive toward her daughter and there’s no doubt she’s a horrible parent, the mother-daughter conflict and the mixed feelings both mom and child have for each other makes for compelling television in a way the inner workings of the Saviors’ group never did.

The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC