The Walking Dead: Where Did Fans Stop Watching? Which Episode? Which Season?

The Walking Dead has been a cable ratings juggernaut.  Through the first six or seven seasons, no other show on cable television had ever achieved the ratings highs that the zombie drama had achieved. Unfortunately, no other show has ever seen such a quick and steep decline in ratings too.  A study from earlier this year tried to figure out what caused viewers to depart from the show.

Broadband Choices conducted a review of ratings data collected from and charted the ratings for the first nine seasons of the The Walking Dead. The results show that after the premiere of Season 7, where Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) were executed by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the ratings decline began.


Broadband Choices’ review of The Walking Dead’s season averages dropped slightly over the course of the first six seasons. At the start of Season 7, “the quality of the show falls off a cliff.” There were several issues with the show. There was the outrage over the executions of two significant characters. Another issue was the communities’ inability to do anything significant to stop Negan. As well, viewers became very tired of Negan’s redundant behavior and monologues.

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.” This also marked the beginning of the show’s rapid decline in viewership. No other show has seen such a decline in viewership numbers as quickly as The Walking Dead.

In October, during his panel at 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 too much of dominate bad-ass. 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 marked the lowest ratings for a season, which was dubbed “All Out War.” However, viewers felt that a true war never culminated but instead the show continued aimlessly. Multiple opportunities to kill Negan were presented to Rick and his crew but were unsuccessful. The best example is when Rick and the gang arrive at the Sanctuary and fired their weapons on every object in the world except Negan, who was was standing wide open and unprotected on an elevated 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.


Season 9 brought in new showrunner, Angela Kang, and saw an improvement in the quality of writing and storytelling. However, Season 9 also saw the show’s central character, Rick Grimes, depart the show. Although the season was a critical success and individual episode ratings increased, viewership numbers continued to decline.


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 are loving the character’s story line. Negan has proven valuable to our Survivors and he’s established himself a more trustworthy.

The Walking Dead Season 11 returns in February for it’s final season.

What do you think is the cause for the ratings fall of The Walking Dead? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

54 thoughts on “The Walking Dead: Where Did Fans Stop Watching? Which Episode? Which Season?

  1. I think too many viewers got attached to characters throughout the years. I heard the threats…”kill Daryl and we riot”, things like that. So instead of a realistic show, they wanted Gilligans Island. Although it was sad for me to lose some main characters, that is the reason I watch. A realistic show where NO ONE is safe.

  2. Nothing about Rick leaving the show is a slap in all us fan’s faces! Rick was the staple to this show, and it “jumped the shark” they wrote Rick off! And the Whisperers? Craptastic storyline! Sorry, I checked out long ago when Rick said bye-bye!! Season 10? No thanks! Carol still a living character? Negan should’ve bashed her brains in instead of all the others Kirkman killed off!

  3. For me, it wasn’t the seventh season, but the second half of season six. The show took an entire half season to introduce Negan. Anyone that followed any kind of nerd news knew that Negan was going to kill Glenn. They took half a season to tease that. They extended the finale an extra half hour. And they still didn’t pay it off. For myself and many others, that was just too damn much self-aggrandizing and absolutely nothing to show for it.

  4. Too much negan and too much glorification for this one character. I was getting really annoyed with all the time on him rather than ones I liked that were a part of the show history. I flatout quit watching when Rick left.

  5. The dumpster scene with Glenn started it for me… was ham handed and gratuitous. The walking dead started losing respect for its viewers and it showed. The overkill by Negan of Glenn and Abraham started the Walking Dead on. a path of very depressing shows. I don’t watch TV to be depressed……. a little menacing with an out of nowhere resolution is fine (think Terminus and Carol’s rescue) but episode after episode with everyone moping around didn’t move me. Negan was boring as Hell…..very one dimensional cartoon character. Then they killed Chandler and Judith never moved me so his replacement was a yawn. We had watched Carl from a scared little boy to being on the brink of manhood and all his transformations and Judith was a baby then maybe for 10 minutes a toddler then she’s 4’8″ of tough stuff with no backstory. They are killing off all the originals and leaving us with people who we barely know so who cares if the cave falls in on them or the zombies eat them up……..I don’t! They still don’t have any respect for their viewers and it shows……they sell the show to seasoned viewers with threats of major character deaths which they have so few left to sell and don’t flesh out all the new characters. I remember the feeling of shock and horror when Hershel was killed and when Lori Died and T-Dog and Dale etc….. Now they just pile up a bunch of bodies and I shrug my shoulders and say mostly “oh good….really didn’t like that one”……The Whisperers section was pretty good but went on too long and got too convoluted……I was numb to the deaths and didn’t register any emotion at the Pike scene. I think unless they start respecting their audience Walking Dead is finished.

  6. Waiting too long between seasons. We forget about the show. I stopped watching because of this. It’s way too spread out.

  7. You killed off all the best characters. Are you kindling
    Me? You had the Alpha male on his knees in front of Negan almost every episode. Really?
    You took the shows focus off of
    defeating zombies and turned it into a regional turf war amongst a bunch of thugs.

  8. Killing Carl Grimes off definitely hurt the show more than ever then Rick Grimes leaving didn’t help either tyvm

  9. If the ratings have gone down its because youre not keeping the people interested. So many missed afew shows and gave up. Show all the episodes again. Its not like we dont have time to watch t.v. get new people interested and the regulars , keep them interested.

  10. I agree totally with this article’s review. I also think constantly losing lead characters has a lot to do with it also. I have stopped watching a couple of times myself, but only for maybe one episode. I hope the show will be around for at least a couple more seasons.

  11. The producers of TWD always say during Talking Dead that they had to kill a character because the story demanded it. They wanted to prove that the villains were bad guys & the world was a dangerous place, even without zombies, but other humans. OKAY! We get it! We got it the first 10 times. But what the producers dont understand is: we watch a tv show or movie BECAUSE OF THE CHARACTERS!
    If you have 20 characters that we MIGHT get a good introduction to, MAYBE see em in action once, & then they get a huge final episode… NO ONE CARES! There are characters that have been on the show for years & I was surprised that they’re still around bc they havent done anything with them, they’re not even cannon fodder for zombies.
    The writing was horrible. There was a HUGE cliffhanger where the characters were dressed in zombie guts & a sheltered, ignorant kid started yelling for his mom while they were in the middle of zombies… to be continued! But when they returned, they “retconned” that cliffhanger as if that cliffhanger never even happened! Sure the way they ended up going was more awesome, but, still.
    And yes, CARL! For years the kid has been a LEADER int he prison (when his father was insane), then he was a SURVIVOR after the prison burned (when his father was too beaten up) so Carl had to go find pudding & kill multiple zombies himself. He was a seasoned WARRIOR when the group & fighting zombies. He was EXPERIENCED with consequences of his actions with the zombie that killed Dale & when he murdered a surrendering boy. He was INTELLIGENT on many occasions. … but.. hey, some new stranger thinks the zombies spirits need releasing, so let’s just jump into a horde & release as many spirits as possible and then trip over a branch & get bit. W… T.. F!?!?!?!!? Those producers who lied to Chandler about his future on the show sure didnt hide it in the way they clumsily & disrespectfully killed off his character!

  12. The fans that left are whiney babies who begged for more violence and then cowardly in their feelings when they got it. The binge community hated the cliffhangers, like TV dramas haven’t done cliffhangers for decades. Bunch of babies.

  13. Stupid to kill off characters that viewers r invested in. Negan is a putz, truly boring writing. Same with Fear of the walking dead, started out with good, well rounded story lines built around the characters, then you kill them off. Total waste of my time to go forward with either show.

  14. My husband & myself were dedicated fans of TWD. After key characters left the show,seemed less interesting. The show was not the same. The plot was just dead. We kept watching for several seasons hoping for something to change. Yet again,very disappointed & then Rick Grimes & his son left the show as well. Then the show just was a drag,kind of like a bad sitcom. We were both tired of watching a boring show.

  15. I have watched the show religiously since day one. I have watched them repeatedly. I own all seasons on dvd. But honestly I’m tiring of it because of the hoards of main characters being killed off while keeping lesser ones. Stop killing them off!!!!

  16. The violent deaths of Glenn and Abraham were the catalyst of the ratings decline. The fact that Rick spent the next year and a half as Neegan’s bottom hoe turned out to be a great sacrifice for the shows future because from the shows point of view, Rick’s group are “the good guys”, and whoever their adversary is are not, but Rick’s group has committed some serious atrocities through the years, and it was nice for the time being watching Rick get put in check by the leather jacket wearing, barb-wire bat wielding Savior leader that exuded personality. I forgive him for Glenn and Abe because that set up the development for the sharp witted, badass we are growing to love more and more with each episode. The alliance between Carol and him, a super twist initiated by the Queen of the Apocalypse herself. Now he and Daryl are rocking some adventures together, unbeatable tandem, and it was all made possible by the bashing of the brains that started season 7. The show survived it, and it is now thriving because of it… Thank you Angela Kang.

  17. The ratings didn’t drop because of Negan. When Negan and Lucille were introduced,thats when everyone was talking about The Walking Dead. Ratings got lower and lower when they started killing off characters that they shouldn’t have.

  18. Honestly, the show started to stagnate a little a few years ago, in my opinion. Several episodes would go by and nothing noteworthy would be resolved. The nail in the coffin for me were the deaths of Abraham and Glenn. Especially that Glenn’s death was brutal and too cruel for one of the most undeserving character. Haven’t watched since his death. I never even finished that episode.

  19. The ratings dropped when Scott Gimple took over and destroyed the storyline! The killing of Glenn was supposed to happen it’s part of the comic! But killing carl and getting ride of Rick maggie and michonne! That was the dumbest move ever!!!

  20. I don’t want to watch anymore. His introduction seasons made me hate Megan so badly that I don’t want him to be good. Rick was the show. Glen was the show. Beth, Dale… I like to see bad guys loose. Governor, terminus guys, Alpha etc. Megan can carry on the show without me. I quit.

  21. I’ve felt for a while that the execution of Glenn was a critical mistake. Rewatching from the beginning of the series, Glenn was the heart of the show. Rick was a philosophical discussion, but Glenn was a solid moral compass when other moral characters were coming and going (dying), like Dale and Hershel. He was the first one to put himself at significant risk to help Rick, a stranger. Even Morgan didn’t risk himself like Glenn did. The horrific scene of his execution was gore porn, and the character was too beloved for that treatment. Unforgiveable. I will never watch that episode again. I didn’t quit the series over this, but I thought about it, and I know some who did. Just my two cents.

  22. This doesn’t sound like research data. It sounds like a bunch of “fans” opining but calling that “research”.

  23. I continue to watch the show, but only by streaming the episodes after the season is over, not weekly like I used to.
    I lost my enthusiasm for the show for reasons stated in the article, primarily related to the feeling of hopelessness created by the group’s inept attempts to deal with Negan, especially after multiple opportunities to get rid of him. I clearly remember saying to friends, ‘I can’t deal with another season of Negan’.
    I have grown to feel more favorable towards Negan’s character in seasons 9 and 10, but sadly my enthusiasm for the show has not been rekindled.

  24. The worst thing to ever happen to the show was to kill Carl. Glenn was the second worst thing. Then of course Rick leaving. A show has to have some main characters. All we have left is Daryl and Carol.
    The show isn’t all bloody like it use to be. That was one of the best parts.

  25. It’s really an easy explanation, Scott M. Gimple putting his ego, arrogance and god-complex before the best interest of the show!!

  26. As one who quit watching when Negan came on the scene, I hated that Glenn had been murdered. Too many beloved characters were wiped out.

  27. When Glen and Abraham were slaughtered it gave me nightmares. The anxiety I felt just thinking about watching the show ultimately pushed me away from it. It wasn’t worth it anymore.

  28. I enjoyed the show for awhile and the comics and watch until season 9. But after losing Carl and Rick I lost interest. It became a different show and jumping 7 years to the future was just boring. I felt the show was done when Rick “died” and that would have been a series complete.

  29. I loved, loved that show and I agree, when they killed Abraham and Glenn in such a brutal way it turned not only my stomach but my head. I HAD NIGHTMARES FROM IT. Yea, after that and Rick falling apart, then he was written out, I couldn’t take it anymore. I really don’t think there is anyway I could go back to watching WD, we watched Glenn grow up on that show! They wrecked it

  30. Ratings drop when you kill off all the characters that we watch the show to see. Common sense says dont kill what makes you money or in this case views. However fear has got rid of the cast for most part that no one cared about and replaced them with interesting characters we can follow.

  31. Your ratings fall because you deviate so much from the comicbook. Stick to the comicbook storyline

  32. I think because they lied to us for the start. Rick would kill Negan they kept saying even in interviews then he didn’t. They killed off Carl for personal reasons it seems instead of putting personal stuff aside and making it about the show. Then they said Rick would be dead for sure and the last time I knew he was being hauled off in a helicopter near death but not actually dead. There was long waiting periods in between coming back and the excessive commercials also became problematic. Then of course the no hope thing. When the new writer came in it was already done. I only watched a couple episodes. It just seemed like a spin off opposed to a continuation of the show. My opinion only.

  33. Well, I can only speak for myself and why I stopped watching. I was an avid fan from season one through season six. But when they killed Glenn and Abraham at the beginning of season seven, they started to lose me. It wasn’t just that two of my favorite characters (especially Glenn) had been killed, but it was the savage, violent way it was done. I mean, overkill is too mild a word. After that I watched only now and then. But when I learned they were killing Carl off, that was the last straw for me. I couldn’t even watch Carl’s death episode, and haven’t watched since. But through Facebook and other internet sources (and friends who still watch) I have kept up with much of what’s going on. They keep killing off good characters (like Henry). And with Rick gone it’s just not the same show. I never liked Negan at all. What’s the point of getting emotionally invested in characters when they keep getting killed off?

  34. Negan, Carl’s death an the long wait for the finale. They should have started running from season 1immediately an continued until finake

  35. Chandler Riggs being fired caused Andrew Lincoln to leave, as his story line was killed with Carl, followed by Danai Gurira (same reason). Daryl & Carole can’t carry the load. Scott Gimble shot himself in the foot and they are struggling to recover, which won’t happen.

  36. We almost stopped viewing when Glen seemingly died. Then in a later episode when he did die we nearly stopped. Our interest seriously began to drop. Then way too much of Negan but at least he finally was captured. OK, that was good. But the Whispers…boring, boring, boring and way too much of them. The final straw, of course, was having Rick leave. We put the blame on Andrew Lincoln though. He had a commitment to the show but failed to see it through. OK, 10 years may be a lot…but really…each half of the season is only about 8-10 weeks. Fly home to cheery ol England a see your mates then return to the place that put YOU on the map! We dropped …no jumped out and haven’t looked back.

  37. I believe it is because you guys started killing off a beloved characters for one and for two Megan and his gang drag on too long and seemed hopeless. The show had me for SO long all the way till the getting rid of all the main characters that I loved. I’m a diehard fan but I’m not hooked like I once was.

  38. I stopped watching when they killed Carl. I agree that Carl was the futute and hope for a recovery ftom the apocalypse. I also hated what they did to Chandler and didn’t watch a show being run by sleaze bags.

  39. When the writers refused to kill off Negan and just left him in a cell to piss and moan about how he wanted to die because he missed his wife I was done. Negan and his crimes against the survivors demands punishment and episode after episode, season after season he continues to flaunt how he is still alive while Abraham and Glen are rotting in the ground. I stopped watching about halfway through the whisperers story arc so I don’t even know if Negan is still alive or not and maybe I will finish watching once the show ends but my days of eagerly sitting in front of my TV awaiting the newest episode are as dead as the victims of Negan that never got justice! I get it, characters have to die for the show to progress but Rick and the gang have always made sure that their sacrifices were not in vain. Then Negan came along and even after they beat him he got a sentence of three hots and a cot while everybody else still had to work for everything they got! The writers failed this series, the fans, and the characters that were the heart of this series!

  40. My problem with TWD is the very fact key players were taken out, Carl was the story for many of us, kids grew up with him, he was meant to be a good guy,, I know many who have never watched it since his death, Negan was a pain and his arc went on too long, it started off brilliantly but became much of the same, no longer even afraid of the zombies. AMC should never had kill Carl it was a given after that that they’d lose Andrew Lincoln who was and would still be the reason we watched it, his acting was absolutely beautiful

  41. The show runners and writers became far too cocky and self important . They thought that they and the show was bigger than the source comics and it’s characters stories . They have been proven, embarrassingly wrong .

  42. I watched from 1-1 , I think you took to many main character’s to fast , killing to main was Bad , then killing of Carl to soon , then letting Rick go , all to soon , Carl and Rick was the Main story line and you wiped it out . so this is why people don’t want to watch You Killed the story for many people ,

  43. I stopped watching after the death of Glenn the show lost its humanity , and descended into unnecessary and excessive violence

  44. I still watch but almost stopped when y’all killed Carl.
    For the record I was seldom bored. The story lines were masterful and once I stopped thinking about loosing Carl constantly I again enjoyed every second of the series. Character deaths are beautiful… (unless it’s Carl, Rick, Daryl or Carol).
    Thank you for the years of dedication to the show, story and your craft.
    Y’all are brilliant. I am NOT angry and will watch every second of TWD.
    FearTD was not as captivating. Morgan helped. But it’s too late I lost interest when the Nick was killed.

  45. I’ll say it again and again. You cannot get the audience invested into these characters for all these years then systematically start killing the fan favorites and push new people on us and expect us to like them the same. That’s not how it works. The show was supposed to be about Rick Grimes and his family. And his family became all those survivors whom stuck together from the beginning. We loved them. Then u start killing them. The killing of Carl was the last straw for me. He deserved so much more then he got. Shame:(

  46. Although I love jdm, I found myself really irritated by Negan. I really disliked Samantha Mortens character too. They were needlessly ridiculously hyperbolically bad. I was glad to see eventually, the sensible and understandable use of armour. Daryl needed a love interest. Seriously you wasted an opportunity there. Rick and michonne was hard to believe. The king with the tiger, the tiger King, was ludicrous. As was that romance. They never dealt with nuclear power plants either, which would have been a major problem. Unlike the comedy Last man on earth who dealt with it well. It would have been good to learn what they were missing in the way of foods, medicines, practical stuff. I probably will watch wd again, when I’ve run out of other stuff.

  47. I am still watching, but I want the writer to bring Rick back so he can be reunited with Michonne, Judith and RJ. Negan can be reunited with one of his long lost wives and leave the show for all I care or let Maggie vash his head with the bat. Darryl needs to be reunited with his lady and maybe a little Darryl. Eugene can find a cure, be with his mystery lady and they can all live happily ever after. I hate that Maggie and Hershel are alone. Glen was awesome!!

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