Back in November, during the Season 6 run of AMC's hit series The Walking Dead, Jeffrey Dean Morgan was cast as the iconic villain Negan. That report claimed he would make his debut in the Season 6 finale, before becoming a series regular in Season 7. Sure enough, Negan did make his long-awaited debut in the Season 6 finale this past April, but we never got confirmation that he would continue on as a series regular. Today that news was confirmed, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan being brought on as a series regular, along with three more recurring actors from Season 6, bringing the series regular total up to a record-breaking 20 actors.
The Hollywood Reporter confirms that Jeffrey Dean Morgan will be a series regular, along with Tom Payne as Jesus, Austin Amelio as Dwight, one of Negan's Saviors, and Xander Berkeley as Hilltop Colony leader Gregory. They join Andrew Lincoln (Rick), Norman Reedus (Daryl), Steven Yeun (Glenn), Lauren Cohan (Maggie), Chandler Riggs (Carl), Danai Gurira (Michonne), Melissa McBride (Carol), Michael Cudlitz (Abraham), Lennie James (Morgan), Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha), Alanna Masterson (Tara), Christian Serratos (Rosita), Josh McDermitt (Eugene), Seth Gilliam (Father Gabriel), Ross Marquand (Aaron) and Austin Nichols (Spencer) as Season 7's series regulars. The 20 series regulars is two more than the total for Season 6.
Of course, that number will go down to 19 right away when Walking Dead Season 7 returns, when it's revealed who Negan's victim is. There were 11 characters lined up for Negan before he picked his victim, but viewers weren't shown who was killed. In the original comics by Robert Kirkman, Negan kills Glenn, who many have suspected was the TV series' victim as well, since he recently teased that he's in South Korea filming a new movie for Brad Pitt's Plan B Productions entitled Oksha, while Season 7 continues production in Atlanta.
Aside from these series regulars, the show will introduce plenty of new characters as well. It has been widely reported that the show will introduce Ezekiel, the leader of a new survivor's colony known as The Kingdom in Season 7. We also recently reported that the show will introduce two new female characters, Naomi, described as a "grandmotherly type" who will do whatever it takes to not lose any more loved ones, and Jennie, said to be a "sunny-side-up kinda teenager." Neither of these characters have been cast at this time, but we may hear more about them soon.
The Walking Dead will be making its annual pilgrimage to Comic-Con 2016 in a few weeks, where the cast and producers are expected to announce a Season 7 premiere date. The show is also expected to show off the first footage and possibly even introduce new characters. It isn't known when The Walking Dead panel at Comic-Con will take place, so stay tuned for more updates.