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

Published on January 14th, 2022 | Updated on January 14th, 2022 | By FanFest

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.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. Almost All the original characters were killed off. The audience was never able to form attachments to any of the new characters

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

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

  17. 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.


as seen on promo graphic


as seen on promo graphic