‘The Walking Dead’ Was Bad Years Before Its Whimper of a Series Finale

Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/AMC

After 12 years, The Walking Dead has finally trudged its last step. On Sunday night, the series comes to a close after 11 seasons—and leading into the finale, the popular questions appeared to be the same as they’ve been for years: Who would die, which alumni might return, and would there actually be any closure?

Sunday’s finale brought to a close one of TV’s biggest contemporary sensations—the zombie drama to end all zombie dramas and a ratings juggernaut. Even as it’s dropped from 17 million same-day viewers for its Season 7 premiere to 2.2 million for last year’s Season 11 premiere (per Variety), the show has remained among the most-watched cable shows on television for same-day viewing—that is, when it’s not No. 1. But in spite of its continued cable supremacy, The Walking Dead has felt like a semi-rotten version of its former self for years. What, exactly, caused this slow death? One might blame cynical writing, the death of cable television as monoculture, or both.

By the time The Walking Dead made its modest six-episode debut on Halloween in 2010, the TV-watching public was ravenous for zombie content. Books like The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z lined the shelves of Barnes and Noble, and the undead had overrun the movies, too, with releases like 28 Days Later, Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, Resident Evil, and Zombieland. “Humans vs. Zombies” games were an epidemic on the nerdy corners of college campuses (I say this as someone who not only played but moderated these games, thankyouverymuch!), and watching TV while also feverishly chatting about the minute-by-minute drama online was still a relatively novel concept. And streaming had only just begun eating cable television’s lunch.

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Source: The Daily Beast

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