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Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead Season 10C Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead Season 10C

The Walking Dead

Walking Dead ratings dip below 2 million viewers for first time

Photo Credit: Eli Ade/AMC



The Walking Dead spiraled below the 2 million viewer mark for the first time in the show’s history last Sunday. Whether you enjoyed “Diverged” or not, the ratings are in and they don’t bode well for the future of Daryl & Carol’s spinoff or the franchise as a whole.

Is Zombie Fatigue setting in?

Last Sunday’s Walking Dead episode “Diverged” scored just a 1.94 Nielsen rating according to Show Buzz Daily. A record low.

While both spinoffs Fear the Walking Dead & The Walking Dead: World Beyond have experienced such ratings ‘withdrawals’ prior… This has never happened before to the mainline father series.

Now, all TV Shows generally experience linear ratings drops throughout the course of a season. Usually a Season Premiere starts hot out of the gates and simmers down until that last Season Finale bump. But this week’s TWD ratings are a still whopper no matter how you look at it. The fire is simmering down into a candlelight vigil.

The show has now lost over 3 and a half million viewers since Rick Grimes left the series in Season 9. Dropping from 5.41 to its present 1.94. The Walking Dead was beaten by 90 Day Fiancé last Sunday, which scored a 2.31. Sure, you can say The Walking Dead still came in fourth for the night and all that jazz to pair up with peaches and milk toast.

The Walking Dead Season 10 Finale “A Certain Doom” scored a rather weak rating itself with a 2.73 down from 3.49 for the episode prior. But this is new grounds for The Walking Dead. This TV series was seeing upwards of 17 million viewers in 2014 and 2016.

Don’t go squarely blaming a ‘Carol and Daryl’ centric episode as the sole cause of an ongoing trend down either, these sort of rating drops don’t happen overnight. Or over one episode for that matter. Zombie apocalypse fatigue appears to be setting in after almost a decade on the air.

‘Home sickness’ for the two series leads on TWD and FTWD has lost millions of viewers per episode. You don’t simply lose a lead character and expect everybody not to notice. As the immortal Frank Drebin of Naked Gun would say, “Everybody move along, nothing to see here.”

Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! - Screenshot via Paramount Pictures

Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! – Screenshot via Paramount Pictures

TWD critiqued by its own official promoters

Did TWD’s own official social media manager blasting “Diverged” and telling fans not to watch have an impact? Probably not, realistically. Most regular TV viewers don’t engage in a single debate on Twitter about TV shows. But it certainly couldn’t have helped the few on the fence that do.

More so, the ‘critical reception’ on Rotten Tomatoes has not been kind with a 31% average score. Meaning a casual viewer is unlikely to give the episdoe a second look after the fact.

“Here’s Negan” Season 10C Finale Ratings Bump

“Here’s Negan” has a strong critical reception, currently trending via AMC+ early viewers, and is the Season 10C finale so there might be a ratings bump. Jeffrey Dean Morgan put on an acting clinic with real-life wife Hilarie Burton as Negan’s Lucille.

Season 10C is likely to conclude on a high note, both critically and in the ratings column… But will it be enough long term?

Is Daryl and Carol’s spinoff in potential danger of being axed?

Both “Find Me” and “Diverged” were likely analyzed behind the scenes as focused market testing for the upcoming spinoff. The ratings have not held objectively and the fanfare has been rather negative subjectively.

If this trend continues going into the final episodes of The Walking Dead Season 11 (likely featuring Daryl and Carol’s move), the project may be reexamined. Producing a major TV series is not easy on the wallet and if fan support proves lackluster or wishy washy, it might be reconsidered.

While the chances of returning to one of the highest rated scripted shows on Television in Season 11 are not high, there’s still exceptions for any network. No one expects the 17.03 rating for Negan’s debut or the 17.29 for the big Terminus rescue but a slide below 1 million viewers or even less would put the whole franchise into the danger zone.

Creator Robert Kirkman once commented he wanted Greg Nicotero to keep the series going into Season 27. Now, the TWD comic book has concluded and the mainline TWD series is seeing its series finale in Season 11, still sans-Rick movie. Life changes fast in the TV & Film industry.

Looking for more Walking Dead Ratings Analysis?

– Be sure to read: Is the AMC+ streaming service impacting Walking Dead ratings?

– Looking for an in-depth comparison of TWD 10C’s premiere episode ratings vs the rest of the series and its spinoffs? Read The Walking Dead Season 10 Ratings: How did ‘Home Sweet Home’ fare?

– Check out our analysis of Carol Peletier’s Psycho inspired knife scene in Diverged!

– Visit The Walking Dead articles section for more coverage of the TWD universe.

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