Does “The Walking Dead” Still Satisfy?

AMC's TV series is in the middle of its tenth season

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Media Release AMC "The Walking Dead" promotional, fair use

"The Walking Dead," a TV show first released in 2010, is based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman and is about life after a zombie apocalypse.

Derek Tirrell, Digital Team

On Oct. 31, 2010, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” premiered with a 9.2 out of ten average fan rating.  Over the rest of the six-episode first season, the show built up a very intrigued fan base.

Fans of the graphic novels enjoyed the on-screen adaptation and were excited to see more of the apocalyptic world brought to the screen.

Season one scored an average rating of 8.6 with a high of 9.2 in episode one and a low of 8.3 in episodes three and five.  Season two three, and four are when the series built up an even bigger fan base. The ratings stayed consistent overall when looking at the season average ratings of 8.4 for season two, 8.5 for season three, and 8.4 for season four.

Based on the ratings, fan engagement, and overall show, “The Walking Dead” is definitely worth giving a try if a zombie action horror series with great characters and story telling is something that you would enjoy”

— Derek Tirrell

However, the average episode ratings fluctuated in season four from 9.7 scored by season four episode eight, to 7.3 from season four episode twelve. These average ratings were the all-time highs and lows for the show at this time in 2014.

These early seasons of the show were very enjoyable and truly set up good character arcs for the series. This was clearly reflected in the average fan ratings, which were 8.6, 8.4, 8.5, and 8.4 for seasons 1, 2,3 and 4 respectively.

The early seasons made the fans care about the characters and worry for their safety. The show had the audience on the edge of their seats as they saw their favorite characters in imminent danger portrayed through high intensity scenes and outstanding acting.

Seasons five and six followed the same pattern as season four with some episodes doing exceedingly well, while others dropped far below the season average. The show’s audience was still very engaged as the season six trailer attained 8.5 million views on “The Walking Dead” YouTube channel.

The show had many high points and low points around this time. While the high points contained amazing storytelling, and satisfying character moments, the low points began to tell stories that were a disservice to some of the characters and their previously established lines of reasoning.

Season seven saw the show’s most drastic decline in average rating when the season scored an average rating of 7.5 when the previous lowest average was 8.3. Although this did not seem like a drastic decline at first glance, some of the individual episodes had an average rating as low as 5.6 with season seven episode six. The fan base became split at this time as well because of new creative decisions made by the show runners.

Season seven’s decline in average fan ratings can be mostly attributed to a major change in direction for the story. Firstly two beloved main characters are written off of the story. Many fans had these characters at the top of their favorite characters list, while others believed it was a good storytelling decision for the other characters because of how they were effected.

Secondly, the show made a major shift from the group of survivors fighting against the undead, and finding unique ways to do so, to the main group fighting against another group of survivors. This shift was initially thought to be a great addition, but many aspects of the show that made it special began to get lost.

By season seven, the fans had characters that they had grown attached to after six years of watching their story. Every fan had a vision of who the characters were, based on their decisions throughout the story. When a character that had a large mass of the fans that cared deeply for them was misused or written off the show, those fans lost their motivation to continue watching.

Season eight’s average rating dropped even further to 7.0. Although season eight had the lowest average rating of any season, the last six episodes all exceeded the average. Somehow the show began to pick back up, but it did not yet reach the ratings or fan engagement of the earlier seasons.

This increase in average rating continued through season nine. The season average rating was 8.1 which was over 10% better than the previous season. Season nine episode fifteen scored an average rating of 9.4 which was the fourth highest average rating for the entire series. The show seemed to be making a partial recovery to the critically acclaimed horror fiction show it once was.

Unfortunately, season ten dropped to a 7.7 average rating. Being the first season without the shows original lead character, a drop in ratings was expected as Rick Grimes portrayed by Andrew Lincoln was one of the most praised parts of the show. The drop was not as severe as that of season eight, and as the show is now halfway through season ten, the individual episode ratings have been increasing.

“The Walking Dead” has had a longer run than most shows on television. Shows are not expected to last ten years. The cast and crew should be commended for their dedication to the series. That being said, however, the show is in a complicated spot after running for ten seasons.

Based on the ratings, fan engagement, and overall show, “The Walking Dead” is definitely worth giving a try if a zombie action horror series with great characters and story telling is something that you would enjoy.
I would recommend watching the first four or five seasons, and if you are truly invested in the characters, continue. If after five seasons you are still indifferent to the story and characters, or if you are on the fence of continuing, it would be best not to spend the time continuing because the first five seasons were the best.

“The Walking Dead” has taken the fans and viewers on a ten-year journey through ups and downs. Fans of science fiction, action, or even just great characters and story telling should experience the show, even if it is just for a few episodes.

NOTE: All average fan ratings were found at ratingraph.com

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