‘The Walking Dead’ Ratings: Midseason Premiere Is Lowest Rated Ever But Tops Olympics Finale

Gene PageAMC

Ratings for The Walking Dead Season 8 midseason premiere are in and the hit AMC network show is still stumbling.

The episode called “Honor” recorded 8.3 million live viewers (4.7 million in the 18-49 advertiser-desired demographic and 5.2 million in the 25-54 cohort), which is a 37 percent drop in audience from the Season 7 midseason premiere on February 12, 2017, thus making Sunday night’s installment apparently the lowest-rated midseason premiere to date. “That’s a hard drop in a Season 8 of several ratings hits and lows from once-record-breaking heights for TWD,” Deadline Hollywood observed.

As the Inquisitr previously detailed, The Walking Dead has been bleeding viewers this entire season, including the first-half finale in December which recorded the lowest rating since its Season 2 counterpart. Still, The Walking Dead maintains its position as the most popular scripted show on basic cable, and “Honor” improved eight percent over the aforementioned previous episode.

With its second-half opener on Sunday evening, The Walking Dead ‘s 3.6 rating in the 18-49 demo still managed to beat the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics closing ceremonies (3.0) on NBC, however, as Deadline Hollywood explained.

“With a 3.6 rating among adults 18-49, the often-heartbreaking winter return episode of TWD‘s eighth season topped the fireworks and K-Pop extravaganza of the Olympics closer by 20% in the key demo. That is a 20% victory overall against the Closing Ceremony, which aired tape-delayed from 8-10:31 PM ET, and it’s a 20% victory over the Olympics in the 9-10:30 PM ET slot where the TWD winter return went head-to-head with the NBC broadcast.”

The Walking Dead also beat the 2014 Sochi closing ceremonies in the ratings. According to Variety, the 2018 Winter Games is apparently the least watched ever on TV and seven percent below Sochi.

The Walkding Dead Season 8 midseason premiere ratings
Featured image credit: Gen PageAMC

Spoilers follow

Season 8 began with 11.4 million viewers (a five-year low), and the series which films in Georgia has generally be heading south since then. Sunday’s emotional episode decided the fate of Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), and he is indeed a goner. There was some speculation or hope that the wounds on his stomach revealed in Episode 8 were caused by a hostile encounter from other than a zombie bite, but that was not to be. It also explained in a clever way that the “Old Man Rick” sequences were not a time jump, but constituted an ailing Carl’s vision/hallucination or fantasy of a peaceful future that probably will never happen in The Walking Dead environment.

In secondary action apart from the heart-wrenching sequences portraying Carl’s final moments with his TV dad Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), and would-be stepmom Michonne (Danai Gurira) and others, Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James) took care of business, the Den of Geek noted.

“Carol and Morgan rampage through the Kingdom to take down Saviors and rescue Ezekiel. Unsurprisingly, since Carl is on one side preaching for peace (after being a cold-blooded killer), Morgan is now a cold-blooded killer (after previously being a peace activist).”

In The Walking Dead comics, Carl is the next-generation leader of the survivors, so his demise is a major departure and swerve from the original storyline content, leaving many wondering where the TV version goes from here. Riggs was not a particularly compelling performer, but if an actual time jump is or was planned, the part could have been recast with an older and perhaps more commanding actor.

TWD season 8 episode 9 ratings
Featured image credit: Gene PageAMC

It has been widely reported in The Hollywood Reporter and in other media outlets that Riggs, 18, and his family apparently felt blindsided by the decision to kill off his character, particularly since AMC apparently gave Riggs assurances that he’d be on the show for three more years. He even bought a home in Georgia near the filming location. There have also been rumors that Carl’s death is payback for some difficult contract negotiations with AMC.

The AMC contract of Andrew Lincoln is also up for renewal, and Lauren Cohan (Maggie) is still unsigned, so losing more core characters/fan favorites doesn’t bode well for the future of the show. Lincoln and Riggs were the only remaining two cast members who appeared on the series pilot. Viewers develop a strong familiarity with long-tenured characters, so it’s always jolting when they go, especially in the case of someone like Riggs who grew up on the show, regardless of how one feels about his acting ability.

Based on what is being discussed on the web, a portion of the remaining Walking Dead audience is hate-watching the series. Indeed, fans and former fans have consumed an enormous amount of social media bandwidth discussing the issues with the TWD storyline. This includes episodes that merely seem to tread water, lapses in logic and bad decision-making woven into the plot, continual moralizing about zombie-apocalypse ethics, and rinse-and-repeat cycles. As alluded to above, former fighter turned peacemaker Morgan is now functioning as an executioner, a behavioral changeup that has occurred with several characters in past seasons.

Another recurring arc is when the survivors find a safe haven only to lose it as a result of the combination of attacks from bad humans and hungry zombies, plus poorly thought-out strategies for dealing with both.

TWD seems to do its best when the entire ensemble of main characters participate in the same episode (which is not often the case) rather than disappear for weeks on end.

USA Today was not impressed with how Episode 9 unfolded.

“Sunday’s midseason premiere was, essentially, a 56-minute exercise in thumb-twiddling and time-wasting. The writers managed to draw out Carl’s (Chandler Riggs) inevitable death for the entire episode, a torturous, maudlin affair that felt cheap and runs counter to the rules the series has established in the past…”

AMC, which has renewed the show for another season, has promoted showrunner Scott Gimple to chief content officer for the entire Walking Dead franchise. Longtime writer Angela Kang takes over as showrunner effective with Season 9, so it remains to been if The Walking Dead can pick up the pace next year.