Without a doubt, the weakest era of The Walking Dead was season 7/8. Before that, ratings and interest from fans were at an all-time high, but things took a pretty big hit on both fronts across those two runs. And it turns out that there’s one thing that’s at least partly responsible for that: Negan.
Yes, recent data has shown a very sharp drop in the numbers ever since the season 6 finale, “Last Day on Earth,” which introduced Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the ruthless leader of the Saviors. Even AMC has admitted that they lost viewers because of Negan. Speaking about it the other month, exec Sarah Barnett said:
It’s true to say that that season with Negan became a little too hopeless for audiences. I think that there was creative intention behind it that was really smart and thoughtful, but I think it probably pushed people to a place where it was a lot to take at a time when maybe people just didn’t want to see that.
She’s certainly right about that, but no one can deny that Negan has still left a huge mark on pop culture over the last few years. Unfortunately, though, it hasn’t always been a positive one.
According to the BBC, a 16-year-old boy was attacked with a bat fashioned after Negan’s weapon, Lucille. He was hospitalized for almost a year after the incident and now has permanent brain damage due to not only the impact from the bat hitting his skull but the fact that it had nails protruding from it.
John Callis-Woolsey, the attacker (seen below, along with the weapon), has been sentenced to eight years in jail after pleading guilty to “causing grievous bodily harm with intent.” Though his original intent was only to rob the boy, things went awry rather quickly, resulting in what’s truly a horrific and terrible act of violence.
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AMC has yet to respond to the incident, but our thoughts and prayers go out to the 16-year-old victim and his family.
The Walking Dead, meanwhile, returns tonight to AMC with its midseason premiere.