Last week there was good news and bad news when it came to the season 9 premiere of The Walking Dead. The good news was that the premiere was solid, marking what appeared to be a change in the wind for The Walking Dead as a whole under new showrunner Angela Kang.
The bad news was that way, way fewer people had stuck around to watch it after the conclusion of the Negan War in season 8.
The premiere had 6.08 million viewers, down from 7.92 million in the season 8 finale and way down from 11.44 million in the season 8 premiere. Its actually the lowest rated episode of the show since a singular episode in season 2.
But the problem is that things are clearly about to get even worse.
The Walking Deads ratings decline when fans lose interest generally, yes, but we can see clearly from the history of the show that big moments that displease the fanbase also cause almost instant mass exoduses of viewers, and thats almost always tied to the death of a beloved character.
And now The Walking Dead is about to lose its biggest cast member yet, Rick Grimes. So what happens to that 6 million then? According to these other figures, Id expect about a 20-25% drop in ratings, which could easily take The Walking Dead under 5 million viewers, true season 1 levels, and thats going to happen soon.
Leakers know exactly how and when well see the last of Rick Grimes, and while I wont go into detail, it is coming soon. Its not being saved for the season 9 finale, or even the midseason finale, so we are fast approaching the last we see of him on the show.
Given that this is the biggest (probable) death the show will ever see, the death of its lead, I would expect possibly the largest drop weve ever seen. Granted, some people may have already left early knowing that Rick is going to be gone (AMC has been using this as part of promotion for season 9), but I do think this is going to mark a significant ratings turning point for the show, one that it will probably never bounce back from.
AMC has been constantly brimming with nothing about confidence about the future of The Walking Dead not just as a show, but as a TV universe, planning more spin-offs and movie projects and all sorts of things. But how low do ratings have to get before AMC agrees that its golden goose is now popping out copper eggs instead?
As ever, I do think some of this could have been salvaged if The Walking Dead hadnt killed Carl last season and he was poised to pick up Ricks mantle after hes gone, but even that probably wouldnt be enough to reverse this trend.
I am looking forward to the rest of season 9, because what Ive seen of it has been really good so far, but I do think ratings are going to keep dropping, and flat-out skydive once Rick Grimes is no more.
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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero