In The Walking Dead season 9, AMC's zombie show is finally good again. It isn't news that the show has been on the downturn for the last couple of seasons, but in season 9, The Walking Dead has been fixing some of its biggest problems.
The Walking Dead's ratings have been in steady decline since season 7, and though there are signs of improvement this season, the audience numbers have yet to recover. Still, even if The Walking Dead never recaptures the massive viewership it had with its earlier seasons - particular its peak in season 5 - the show can continue to be a draw if it can avoid its recent pitfalls.
Only four episodes of season 9 have aired, but already it's clear that The Walking Dead is embarking on a new era. There's a sense of hope about the direction season 9 is taking - for the characters and viewers - and even with Rick set to leave, the future of the series looks to be in good hands. But before we dive into how The Walking Dead season 9 is fixing the show's big problems, where did it all go wrong in the first place?
- This Page: Where The Walking Dead Went Wrong
- Page 2: How The Walking Dead Season 9 Is Better
What Went Wrong With The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead’s decline can be traced back to one specific moment - the season 6 finale. After weeks of hyping Negan’s arrival and his murdering of a major character, the episode ended on cliffhanger asking viewers to tune in next season to find out who it was Negan bludgeoned to death. It was a wholly unnecessary tease, and when the show returned for its season 7 premiere, any tension built towards that shocking moment had all but evaporated.
The season 7 premiere then doubled down on the misdirection, revealing Negan’s victim as Abraham before having him also murder Glenn - a character who had only narrowly (and unbelievably) escaped death just episodes earlier. This led viewers to bail on the series in droves, frustrated by how they were being manipulating for shock value. Season 7 never recovered, and instead of treating audiences to compelling stories of Rick and the survivors fighting back against Negan’s tyranny, The Walking Dead just wallowed in the misery of the All Out War arc.
The Walking Dead season 8 only continued that trend. The narrative was muddled, with action that was hard to follow and stories that did little to advance the plot. Characters were divided not only in purpose but in geography, depriving viewers of the relationships that are the series’ greatest strength. No longer was the focus on surviving a world overrun by the dead, but waging a war of which there could be no real winner. In just two seasons, The Walking Dead went from being must-watch television to a series that many struggled just to keep watching.