The Walking Dead has been a cable ratings juggernaut. The zombie drama has had a remarkable run through the first six or seven seasons, with no other show on cable television ever achieving the viewership heights it achieved. Unfortunately, no other program has experienced such a rapid and steep drop in popularity. Researchers have attempted to figure out what caused viewers to abandon The Walking Dead in an effort to better understand why they leave
Broadband Choices conducted a review of ratings data collected from IMDb.com and charted the ratings for the first nine seasons of the The Walking Dead. The findings demonstrate that the season premiere of Season 7 had an effect where Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) were killed by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), then the ratings began to plummet.
The ‘Broadband Choices’ review of The Walking Dead‘s season averages dropped somewhat during the first six seasons. “The quality of the show plummets off a cliff” at the start of Season 7, according to one review. There were a number of problems with the series. There was outrage over two key characters being murdered. Another concern was the inability to make any progress against Negan. But Negan’s killing of Abraham and Glenn was just too much for so many viewers.
Additionally, the Season 7 opener received complaints from the FCC for its violent and graphic depiction of the executions. The Parents Television Council reported the “brutally explicit” episode was “one of the most graphically violent shows we’ve ever seen on television.” The Walking Dead began hemorrhaging viewers prior to the start of Season 5, which also signaled the show’s impending death. There has never been another program with a decline in viewership numbers like The Walking Dead.
In October, a panel at past Walker Stalker Con Atlanta, Morgan admitted Negan was “very one-dimensional” during Seasons 7 and 8.
“I thought the first couple of years that we knew Negan was very one-dimensional. To me, when Negan came out of the RV for the first time, we didn’t learn anything about him for two years, three years. And that was hard,” said Morgan. “I felt like everything that I said coming out of that RV is sort of what I said for the next two years, and never shifted. I think with the introduction of Judith (Cailey Fleming), and that relationship, we got to see a little different side of him.”
As well, AMC president Sarah Barnett admitted to the LA Times that The Walking Dead lost viewers over Negan being “too hopeless” a villain. Essentially, Negan was a little too much of a domineering badass. Here’s what she had to say::
“In terms of the quality question, I think that with 10 seasons of television — something like ER or Grey’s Anatomy — shows go through spurts. We’ve done a lot of research on the response to it and we certainly have our own thoughts about it. It’s true to say that that season with Negan [a mega-villain played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan] became a little too hopeless for audiences. I think that there was creative intention behind it that was really smart and thoughtful, but I think it probably pushed people to a place where it was a lot to take at a time when maybe people just didn’t want to see that.”
Season 8 was dubbed “All Out War” owing to the fact that it was the lowest-rated season in terms of whether viewers liked the episodes or not. Viewers, on the other hand, felt that because a genuine war did not end, the series simply kept going. Rick and his crew had numerous chances to kill Negan but were unable to do so.
The finest illustration is when Rick’s group storms the Sanctuary and shoots their guns at everything else in the world, save for Negan, who was standing open and vulnerable on a raised platform.
As well in Season 8, Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) died due to a walker bite and fans were outraged at how poorly his death was written and many believed that Carl should have been the future of the show, much like his comic book counterpart.
Angela Kang was brought aboard as the show’s new Showrunner in Season 9, and the quality of writing and storytelling improved. Season 9 also saw Rick Grimes, the show’s main character, depart the program. Although the season was greeted with acclaim from critics and individual episode ratings increased, viewership decreased.
Finally, Season 10 received the highest rating scores of any of the 10 seasons of The Walking Dead. Kang and her team have put together much greater stories and depth. Also, Alpha (Samantha Morton) and the Whisperers have given the show’s heroes a much more dangerous group of antagonists.
As well, Negan’s story lines and better dialogue now have fans cheering him on. Morgan said in his panel, that Season 10 is the “best stuff [he’s] gotten to do on the show.”
There’s a new Negan in Season 10 and fans loved the character’s story line. Negan has proven valuable to the Survivors and he’s established himself a more trustworthy.
The Walking Dead Season 11 returned this past week to venture into part two of its final season. Although viewership is at an all-time low, the die-hard fans appear to be enjoying the show as it heads towards it’s ending.
What do you think is the cause for the ratings fall of The Walking Dead? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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