For the past eight seasons, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has been one of the most popular shows on television. Even though the last season of the series brought in a much lower rating, the show still averaged around eight million viewers per episode, so it hasn’t been doing poorly. However, several recent changes on “The Walking Dead” cause its viewership to steadily decline.
The deaths of popular characters Glenn Rhee, Abraham Ford and Carl Grimes in the past two seasons shocked many long-time fans. Now, frontrunner Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes, announced that the upcoming ninth season will be his last.
For those unfamiliar, “The Walking Dead” always centered around Rick and his experiences after he awakens from a coma to find himself in the midst of the zombie apocalypse. Although other characters became a significant focus over time, such as housewife-turned-badass Carol Peletier (played by Melissa McBride) and tough-guy Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), the drama still continued to hold its attention on Grimes’ narrative. That’s why fans are in an uproar over Lincoln’s announcement.
Lincoln’s departure signals the end of the traditional “Walking Dead” that fans grew so attached to. In recent seasons, the show made it a point to kill off characters that have been around since the beginning. For example, both characters Glenn Rhee and Carl Grimes appeared in the first few episodes of the show, and both have undergone significant personal development since their introductions.
Fans grew accustomed to their presence on “The Walking Dead,” and the absence of the roles jarred many supporters. Of the show’s original characters, only Rick, Carol and Daryl survive to the end of the eighth season, and now that Lincoln is departing the show, only two original cast members will remain. The recently introduced individuals had little opportunity to develop in the same way Rick has, so there are only a few characters that audiences are attached to.
And even that might be acceptable if “The Walking Dead” showrunners moved the focus of the show to a person that fans do care about. Reports indicate that Reedus is in talks to become the new focal point, however, Daryl’s storylines have been uninteresting for quite some time. Most of his plot in season eight revolved around his intense dislike of Dwight, an ex-member of the Saviors, a group intent on destroying Rick and his community.
But Daryl’s anti-Dwight campaign felt repetitive. 16 episodes dedicated to how much Daryl hated Dwight and the Saviors got to be a little too much, and watching Daryl complain about how Rick isn’t doing enough to kill the rival group is unexciting. Unless the creators can find a way to bring new life to Daryl’s narrative, there’s no way “The Walking Dead” will be entertaining after Rick is gone.
Even though “The Walking Dead” is one of television’s biggest successes, there might be no way to save it now that the show is finally losing Rick Grimes and the passion Andrew Lincoln had for his character. Unless serious changes are made, the reign of “The Walking Dead” might be over.