It’s been a difficult week for The Walking Dead camp – both on set and off.
On one side of the lens, season 8 reached its mid-season finale with all the urgency of a mindless walker lumbering toward its next victim. Entitled “How It’s Gotta Be,” let’s just say that the super-sized episode struggled to leave much of an impression on its audience, while some questioned the need to kill off Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), a mainstay of The Walking Dead since its inception.
Held up as a game-changing moment, Carl’s forthcoming death will have a marked effect on season 8, but it seems that endgame shocker wasn’t enough to save the show’s dwindling ratings.
Deadline brings word today that “How It’s Gotta Be” posted the worst ratings for a mid-season finale of The Walking Dead since 2011, and that’s despite Sunday’s episode drawing in a grand total of 7.9 million viewers. But among adults aged 18-49, “How It’s Gotta Be” was down four percent from season 2’s “Pretty Much Dead Already.”
To make matters worse, the first half of season 8 averaged a 3.9 rating and 8.7 million viewers per episode, whereas The Walking Dead‘s seventh season typically scored 5.7 in the key demographic (18-49) at its midway point, along with a viewership of 12.1 million per episode.
Can The Walking Dead stage a resurgence, though? It’s too soon to tell, but as Scott Gimple outlined to THR, the second half of season 8 largely revolves around the fallout from Carl’s death.
I can’t get into it too much because it really has to do with the story. That kind of says it all. It’s all having to do with the greater story of the season. It will be very apparent, the relationship of this awful incident — this very intense story turn — to the greater story. I don’t even need to answer because I know as you’re watching it into the next half of the season that you’ll get it. It has everything to do with what happens throughout the rest of season eight.
What’s interesting here is that Deadline’s report alludes to Chandler Riggs exiting The Walking Dead after the first episode of 2018, which would suggest that the AMC drama won’t milk Carl’s imminent demise as some had initially feared.
Regardless, The Walking Dead is hemorrhaging viewership, and that’s really been the story of season 8 thus far. Whether the long-running series can bounce back in time for February 25th will be told in time, but for now, the writing is on the wall: viewers are beginning to grow tired of AMC’s apocalyptic flagship.