The world of The Walking Dead will change as we know it, come mid-February, as Rick and company take their first steps into a larger world, at least after a bit of house-cleaning. That expansion comes with a price, however, as series creator Robert Kirkman previews the “atomic bomb” that new series big bad Negan brings to the table, along with his “Savior” followers.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman offered some tantalizing teases of the AMC drama’s next major villain, who himself was name-dropped in a prologue to the latter eight episodes of Season 6, and will make his formal appearance down the line. Specifically, Kirkman teased the manner in which Negan trumps any usual threat to Rick’s people:

As far as shake-ups go, we have lots of shake-ups from season to season. It keeps things interesting — keeps the blood pumping, I like to say — but Negan is kind of an atomic bomb that’s going to be dropped on the show and the show will probably never be the same after that.

And while they weren’t explicitly named opposite Daryl, Sasha and Abraham, Kirkman also confirmed Negan’s followers as the “Saviors,” contrasting their organization with the mysterious “Wolves” we’ve contended with in Season 6:

I think the Saviors are dangerously organized. The Wolves were psychotic, the Hunters [the group from Terminus] had a lot of weaknesses. When it comes to the Saviors, and Negan in particular, the way I’ve always thought about this in the comics is this is a group that’s led by a guy who’s had his morality dial a few clicks away from Rick toward the darker aspects of his personality, but is still an intellectual and capable leader who’s kept his group alive against all odds just as long as Rick has.

It’s really the best encountering the best. When these two forces come head to head, things are gonna get interesting. This is a much different group than they’ve ever encountered. The Saviors are a group they’re not really prepared for.

The latter half of Season 6 will also introduce at least two major figures straight out of the comics, one played by Nikita alum Xander Berkeley, the other heavily followed on set and identified as actor Tom Payne.

Check out the latest Walking Dead footage below, and stay tuned for more from the 2016 premiere “No Way Out”!

 

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