The midseason finale of The Walking Dead featured a showdown between Rick's people and the Governor's people, and not many fans of the show were likely to miss it given how high the stakes were. For a season and a half the survivors had gone about making the prison their home, and "Too Far Gone" was clearly set up as the episode that would decide whether the prison residents would stay or go - and live or die.
We won't spoil what happened for the readers who haven't seen it yet, but based on the ratings it looks like there weren't many fans who missed out on the midseason finale. Season 4's premiere scored 16.1 million viewers and most of them have stuck around, with 12.1 million tuning in for "Too Far Gone." That includes 7.7 million adults in the important 18-49 age range and leaves The Walking Dead still at the top as the number one most viewed show on television, as well as the #1 cable show of all time. Meanwhile, tie-in talk show The Talking Dead set a new record with 6 million viewers sticking around to watch after "Too Far Gone" finished.
AMC's unstoppable zombie drama was renewed for a fifth season just a few episodes into its fourth, to the surprise of no one. AMC Networks CEO Josh Kaplan has expressed a belief that The Walking Dead will still be going strong in 2022, and right now such a thing seems possible. Now that the dust from the original breakout of the infection has cleared, the world of The Walking Dead has reached something of a status quo, with many of the most resourceful members of the severely depleted human population holed up in secured settlements. It's a dangerous world, but not an apocalyptic one, and there's a lot of mileage in that.
The narrative of The Walking Dead exists in more than one medium, of course. Issue #118 of the comic book series is out later this month, and TellTale Games today released a new image from the second season of the episodic Walking Dead video game, in which Hershel and Glenn have already made appearances. The multiple different narratives that have sprung from Kirkman's core concept no doubt play off each other well, with fans of the comic books, the show and the video games all compelled to explore other versions of The Walking Dead, and this may well be a key component of the franchise's continued success.
There's now a midseason hiatus until The Walking Dead returns in February, during which the show could pick up even more viewers among people who are still getting caught up. Considering how far the show has come since the not-inconsiderable 5.35 million viewers who tuned in for the pilot, The Walking Dead may wind up breaking its own record in the episodes to come.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC on February 9th, 2014.