Last week’s episode of “The Walking Dead” was a pivotal moment for the series as it marked the final appearance of actor Andrew Lincoln as leading man Rick Grimes.
Since its premiere in 2010, “The Walking Dead” has proven to be a humongous success for AMC. The show follows Rick Grimes, a sheriff who wakes up from a coma only to discover the world has been overrun by zombies.
Throughout the years, audiences have followed Rick and company as they tried to survive in this dangerous new world. Besides dealing with the never-ending hordes of the living dead, the characters have also had to confront hostile factions led by individuals such as The Governor and Negan.
No one, good or bad, was safe on this show. Later seasons shocked viewers with the deaths of fan-favorite characters like Glenn or Rick’s son Carl, but the departure of everyone’s favorite zombie-killing sheriff is nothing more than a cog-in-the-wheel for AMC.
Not long after the episode premiered, AMC announced it would be producing three movies based on “The Walking Dead,” all of which were to feature Lincoln reprising the role. Although he is gone from the show permanently, the exit from the franchise is only temporary.
It’s a cop-out on the hands of the studio to say that this season is the final one for the actor, only to then follow it up months later with an announcement that he’ll be back for more, but in a different entertainment medium.
Recent seasons of “The Walking Dead” have struggled to keep viewers interested. What started as an inventive take on the zombie genre has become a shambling corpse, and its never-ending hunger for ratings is the only thing keeping it going.
The only reason people still tune in is whenever the series kills off a well-known character as if to say, “Hey, remember this show and this character you knew from seasons prior? Well, guess what? He or she is going bye-bye!”
This isn’t undermining the show’s quality—quite the contrary. It boasts an excellent cast, great atmosphere, and plenty of zombie-killing mayhem to keep the gore-hounds happy, but story-wise, it’s run out of steam.
“The Walking Dead,” both the comic series and the show based on it, were pitched as “the zombie movie that never ends.” This statement has proven to be a double-edged sword for the franchise.
The average number of viewers was 5.35 million people when the show premiered in 2010, but that number had risen to 17.30 million viewers by season five. From season six and onwards the ratings have declined, and when season nine debuted on Oct. 7, the views for the season premiere were down to 6.08 million people.
Although Rick Grimes is gone, “The Walking Dead” is not. Even with the face of the once-popular series absent, things will continue as if nothing happened, and like a zombie, it shambles on.