A lot of people quit The Walking Dead. The series enjoyed its second-largest audience ever with the Season 7 premiere (although I’m pretty sure fans never forgave AMC for that Season 6 finale cliffhanger.) Ever since that episode, ratings have been tanking. But now a new showrunner is in charge, and many fans agree that Season 9 may be the best season of The Walking Dead since the show’s earliest seasons. So, if you gave up because you were tired of waiting for the show to improve, it may be time to come back home. This post will have one MAJOR spoiler from Season 9 that was advertised pretty majorly by AMC all over the place. You’ll know if you know what this spoiler is. If you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t keep reading. (If you haven’t seen Season 9, or have other seasons to catch up on, you can watch them on Amazon here.)
The midseason finale for Season 9 is just another example of how great this show has gotten again. I was on the edge of my seat. The suspense was major. The fear of walkers is finally back in the show. There was an unexpected death that I had no idea was coming. In the days when AMC telegraphs every major death months before it happens, this was a welcome change. (Even though the death broke my heart.) So yes, if you left the show, then it’s time to come back.
This story was inspired by a question that a former fan asked on Twitter:
It's been a long time since I've watched this show. I want to like it, but the writing is so atrocious (or at least was years ago when I stopped)
— Evan Pickering, Author (@EvanPAuthor) November 26, 2018
So it felt like time to say, definitively, that the show is BACK. It’s really good. But this return is also bittersweet.
Just as Rick left the show, the show hit its stride again. The two aren’t connected. Andrew Lincoln wanted to spend more time with his family, and it looks like his story is going to continue in the form of AMC original movies. The show seems to be hitting its stride again thanks to Angela Kang, who has taken over as showrunner. Greg Nicotero left that role and is now focusing more on Fear the Walking Dead and generally “overseeing” the franchise. He’s also working on those Rick movies.
It’s a good thing the show is improving, because ratings were tanking. In October, The Hollywood Reporter noted that ratings were still down when Season 9 premiered. The seventh-season premiere had the show’s second-highest ratings ever, with more than 17 million viewers (and an 8.4 same-day rating among 18-49). After a week of delayed viewing, the total grew to 21.5 million viewers. Everyone wanted to know who would die at Negan’s hand. But then interest dropped after that reveal. (I think the cliffhanger was something fans wanted to resolve, but were still angry about.) From that premiere to the Season 9 premiere, same-day ratings dropped 60 percent in the 18-49 category. In Season 7 the average 5.4, and Season 9 the average by October 24 was 2.1) The show also lost 53 percent of viewers overall, dropping from 11.35 million to 5.35 million. Delayed viewings help some, but they don’t make up everything.
Personally, I think that when word spreads about how much Season 9 is improving and how much fans like it, we’ll see ratings slowly start to climb. But it will take awhile to win those viewers back.
The plot lines and the mysteries of Season 9 are fulfilling. The characters are much more fleshed out. Daryl has a dog now (huge win!) And Daryl has lines again, which he’s barely had for a long time. He has a personality. Carol has enjoyed more character development. Judith is new, but actually really fun to watch, which is rare when it comes to a kid in an apocalyptic TV show. Characters sometimes still make decisions that aren’t the smartest, but that feels more like real life rather than big plot holes. And there are mysteries that aren’t being solved immediately. For example, we don’t know why there’s such a big rift between Michonne and Hilltop. And Michonne and Daryl both have major scars that aren’t being explained. Not to mention the changes with the walkers. If you aren’t a comic reader, then you’re really wondering what’s going on. If you are a comic reader, then you’re probably excited that a higher quality Season 9 is handling this new topic.
I’m finally scared again, which I haven’t really felt since Season 6 when Rick and company were being trapped by Negan and the Saviors. The walkers feel terrifying, which hasn’t been “a thing” for awhile. I’m really intrigued to see how Negan is going to be handled in Season 9. The actor is very talented, and I think he’s going to really shine with the new showrunner working with him.
One viewer on Reddit, u/TheGoverness1998, wrote: “This has been a stellar first half to a surprisingly good season. I feel like this show is getting back on track. I’ve enjoyed every episode this season, even the slower ones. I’m so excited for what Part B has in store!”
On Twitter, viewers are equally enthusiastic.
Ugh. #TheWalkingDead just had yet another brilliant episode. It actually bugs me that this show got really good again, and without Rick. VERY different tone & feel to it now though. The creep-factor was on high for tonights mid-season finale…terrific graveyard scene!
— nathan coker (@ncavalanche) November 26, 2018
You know the episode was good when it’s finally trending again #TheWalkingDead
— CL's Wife ʗℒ (@CLsDimple) November 26, 2018
So far, the 9th season of The Walking Dead has been very good.
— Marvin (@brunomarvs_) November 26, 2018
#TheWalkingDead has somehow got good again. After a couple of barely watchable seasons I wasn’t prepared for this
— Iain Robertson (@iain999) November 20, 2018
If you’re one of the viewers who left, I suggest you give the show a try again. If you’re still watching, let us know what you think about Season 9 in the comments below.
If you haven’t seen Season 9, or have other seasons to catch up on, you can watch them on Amazon here.