The Walking Dead ratings have been consistently dropping since Negan chose his victims in the Season 7 premiere. Did his choice drive away the fans?
While The Walking Dead is still the king of TV, it’s undeniably seeing millions of fans depart the series. The season 7 premiere pulled in over 17 million viewers, the second highest number in the show’s history. But 12 episodes in, the show is now hovering at just above 10 million viewers.
It brings up the question — why are so many fans leaving the long-running show?
We can all come up with different theories, but the timing seems to speak volumes. After pulling in 17 million viewers in the premiere, the very next episode saw a drop of about 5 million. The losses have been more gradual since then, so the biggest hit happened immediately after the cliffhanger reveal. That’s 5 million fans who didn’t even stick around to see what happened next, giving up on the series right then and there.
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As we all know by now, Abraham and Glenn both die in the infamous episode. And while I think most fans could accept Abe’s death, perhaps killing Glenn also was a big mistake. I get that he dies at this very same point in the comics, but it doesn’t have the same effect on the TV series, and I’ll explain why.
First of all, Glenn’s TV death wasn’t nearly as shocking as the comic death. For one, it happens at the exact same moment. So with the cliffhanger giving fans half a year to talk about who dies, comic readers were spoiling it for everyone. By the time Season 7 premiered, everyone knew Negan kills Glenn in the comics, and he was the most likely candidate. It didn’t help that they had his eyeball popping out — yes, that happens in the comics too, but it just looked silly on screen.
Glenn dies on The Walking Dead – Photo: AMC
It’s not offensive because it’s violent. It’s offensive because it looks ridiculous.
Killing Abraham beforehand also ended up cheapening both deaths. It didn’t give Abe the sendoff he truly deserved, as his death was obviously overshadowed by Glenn’s. Likewise, Abe was the one who had the big moment of Negan choosing someone, while Glenn’s death just seemed hastily thrown in. I can’t help but feel like both just deserved better. And I think many fans felt the same way.
But keeping Glenn around would have also opened many interesting storyline possibilities. Abraham’s death and Negan taking away one or two of the others would have still have had an impact. And it would be very interesting to see what Glenn would be doing to prepare for this war against the Saviors. I love when the show explores new territory and find myself getting bored when it sticks so closely to the books.
Glenn’s fake death scene is much more heartbreaking than his actual death.
If they had to kill Glenn, it should have been saved for a different moment. He’d have been better off dying at the dumpster since they were just going to kill him off anyway. At least his death would have been more surprising, and far more tragic — imagine the horror of the group never really knowing what happened to him, while we, the viewers, know he’s been completely eaten.
In any case, I think viewers just weren’t ready to say goodbye to Glenn. Since Season 1, he had been the heart of the show. Getting rid of such a fan favorite can be a shocking but compelling moment for any TV series. But, if you don’t do it right, you can end up turning the fans away.
And I think that’s what happened with Glenn and The Walking Dead.