The Walking Dead has always hit hard with misery, gore, and all things grim — and that's to be expected from a series of its genre: sliced-up limbs, open wounds, decomposing corpses, blood, and guts are the stock stuff of a post-apocalyptic horror show.
Violence and viscera are just the name of the game! But after Negan and his not-so-merry band of Saviors came to town, The Walking Dead experienced a dramatic shift in tone. No longer did it feel like a cautionary tale, a series exploring the intricacies of existence and the darkness of human nature; it became something that takes pleasure in causing pain, transforming into physical and emotional " torture porn.
Such brutality can be brushed aside when it's justified and balanced with some beautiful moments, but when an already-dark series zeroes in on just how sociopathic its central villain is the season seven marketing promised that Negan, Lucille, and the Saviors' reign of terror was " just getting started " , the cynical attitude and malevolent tone proves too much to take.
And even though showrunners said they'd tone down the violence after the season seven opener, a good chunk of fans had already stopped watching.
Seeing characters you hold dear face unimaginable hardships, struggle to take on their biggest fears, sink to their personal rock bottoms, and experience the very things that they hoped never would isn't easy. When you watch them do that for years on end before squaring up to an ultimate evil, it's near impossible to bear. Through the first six seasons of The Walking Dead , Rick and his coalition took on foe after bloody foe and came out the other side as headstrong heroes. When season seven rolled around, the group fell to its knees, squashed under Negan's boot. This type of pummeling is part of how it's supposed to go down in order for the series to have a satisfying climax and resolution, and the adored trio will rise up and find themselves again eventually, but the brutal and demoralizing build-up isn't enjoyable and — as the ratings can attest — was simply too difficult for some viewers to endure.
Unless you're on a rollercoaster at Six Flags, getting thrown in unexpected directions via twists, turns, yanks, and whip-arounds isn't fun. Some Walking Dead viewers feel the showrunners missed that memo. The series' creatives made a divisive move in season six when they crafted a plot purposely meant to trick everyone into believing that Glenn had been eaten alive by zombies.
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Using sneaky camera angles and close-up shots, the minds behind the show fooled viewers directly, making it appear that Glenn's guts really were getting pulled out of his body as he screamed in agony — when in reality, it was a corpse whose insides were spilling everywhere and Glenn was just near it. He escaped the zombie encounter by squirming his way under a dumpster. The "gotcha! Something similar happened in the penultimate episode of season six, when Daryl seemingly died after being shot, his blood speckling the screen. Of course, it was all just deliberate misdirection.
The Walking Dead pulled one over on viewers the very next episode by showing Negan smashing someone's skull in , but not revealing who it was — thus leaving the audience completely dumfounded and forcing them to find out who the real victim was by watching the following season. Gassing up the greatness of a show to get people to tune in is what showbiz is all about, but when shameless promotion turns somewhat shameful, expect fans to drop like flies.
To make matters worse, writers also started using major moments — like the previously discussed catastrophes designed to send characters into a tailspin of turmoil — for pure shock value rather than as a way to actually move the plot. Abraham and Glenn's murders and the multiple fake-out deaths are the epitome of this troubled method of storytelling, which hints that The Walking Dead will do anything to keep viewers coming back, including and especially stringing them along and shaking them to the core week after week.
A zombie show that goes from big-scale onslaughts in nearly every episode to only a smattering of attacks per season? There's a problem here.
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As seasons have passed, the presence of the walking dead has waned, replaced by humans who magically pop up to deflect any zombie threats and draw attention back to themselves, causing fans to question where the flesh-hungry creatures are and where the waves of new people came from. Really, why haven't they all encountered each other before? More than that, it's hard to decide what The Walking Dead is even about anymore.
In its infancy, the series was the pinnacle of what post-apocalyptic storytelling should look and feel like, and there was a clear central focus: Rick and the gang needed to outsmart the zombies and survive long enough to see a world without them roaming about, and they would sacrifice things they loved to accomplish that. Now, the crew is almost exclusively threatened by insane human villains , and the premise that the show once held — fighting the titular walking dead — has all but vanished.
Keeping things fresh from season to season is imperative for a show to stay afloat. The Walking Dead succeeded on that front in its first few years on the air, placing emphasis on its characters and their growth into their new world and away from the one they once knew. Early seasons saw Glenn proving himself, Rick learning to be a truly good leader, and Carol gaining strength and self-confidence.
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Once they reached a certain point in their development, however, the characters started to become flat and their stories stagnant. It's now fairly easy to predict what each will do and how each episode will play out: 1 Rick and co.
These repetitive plots were tolerable at first, but fans now feel the show has " never been so dull. Bigger isn't always better, and that rings true for The Walking Dead. The show's first season was a short and sweet six episodes, just enough time to tell the story. But since the early days of The Walking Dead , the show has grown in size, increasing by more than double for a episode second season and maintaining a episode count thereafter. Each new bundle of episodes also got split into two halves after the first season: everything up to and including the midseason finale, then everything including and after the midseason premiere.
To put it in perspective, since season three premiered in , fans have been consuming three times the amount of content they did when The Walking Dead first aired. Since season two kicked off the year prior, they've been forced to sit for months on the sidelines waiting for the back half of each season to air. Unfortunately, this all has resulted in tons of frustrating filler material. And with apparently no end in sight for the Walking Dead franchise, as it was recently picked up for a ninth season and has multiple spinoffs in the works, things could end up dragging on forever.
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