In summer 2018, we found out that Andrew Lincoln would be bowing out of The Walking Dead in its ninth season, leaving fans to speculate when exactly it would happen. Though the undead cat was out of the bag, a certain amount of surprise could have been retained if it was kept secret which episode would be his last.
In the end though, AMC decided to heavily promote episode 5 as the finale of Rick Grimes’ story on the show, advertising the fact weeks beforehand. It was a bit of an unusual move for a series which has created so many watercooler moments by shocking its fans with unexpected character exits. So why was the decision made to take a different approach with Lincoln’s farewell?
Well, speaking in a recent interview, AMC President of Programming David Madden explained the reasoning as follows:
“if you were a fan of the show we wanted you to know this was your opportunity to see, live, his departure from the series. We wanted to honor that moment, and then at the same time tell people what would come next.”
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Essentially, Madden’s saying that advertising the important hour made sense so as to increase the ratings. As it happened, episode 6 – “What Comes After” – did see a slight bump in viewers from the rest of the otherwise underwhelming figures for season 9, but it wasn’t as big a hike as the network might’ve been hoping for.
You could say, though, that the marketing campaign around the episode successfully mislead us. Since it was promoted as the end for Rick, we went into the hour expecting him to die. However, it turned out that he survived, though he was taken away from Alexandria to unknown pastures. And we’ll see where he ended up when Andrew Lincoln returns for a trilogy of spinoff movies, the first of which is expected to shoot this year.
The Walking Dead itself, meanwhile, continues when season 9 kicks off its second half on February 10th.
Source: NY Times