10 Reasons Why The Walking Dead Is Failing

Why The Walking Dead Is Failing
A Walker tears flesh from a fresh corpse.

Here's Why The Walking Dead Is Failing

The once beloved post-apocalyptic zombie drama has hit a bit of a rough patch.  Ratings are increasingly down with its latest season hitting an all-time low.  Viewers and critics have speculated on what could be the cause of the drop off, but I think you can attribute a great deal of it to the following reasons:

10. Too Much Pandering To Fans

With the popularization of Reddit and other forum-type platforms, a major problem for a lot of TV programs is how much of an effect squeaky wheel audiences are having on the direction of certain shows.  The Walking Dead is no exception.  Some fans want things one way, others another.  Those behind The Walking Dead are attempting to please everyone and when you have that mindset, typically no one is pleased.  A prime example is the backlash the season 7 premiere received after two characters were brutally beaten with a baseball bat.  Some argued it was a fine return to form in the increasingly gore-less show, others looked at it as pure exploitation.

Jeffrey Dead Morgan emerges as Negan.                                                                                                                                      Jeffrey Dead Morgan emerges as Negan.

 

The producers took some of the audience’s advice and announced they would be toning down the violence in later seasons.  The backlash was swift and relentless, with certain fans feeling the show was forgetting what it originally was intended to be: a look at what a post apocalyptic zombie outbreak would be like.  It may be time to listen a little less to what the fans want and put more focus on simply writing an entertaining show. 

9.  Too Much Time Jumping

It’s an age-old plot device throughout countless TV shows and movies: the time hop.  We are never sure whether it is meant to deliberately confuse the viewer or establish a puzzle that needs to be pieced together throughout the season, but regardless of the intention, it’s usually distracting and unnecessary.  The Walking Dead has fallen into this trap to a less than stellar result.

When the big time jump happened in Walking Dead Issue #127 for example, it gave Carl time to age and become a larger player in the story, but on the show, we’ve watched these characters age over actual years so it doesn’t serve the same purpose to arbitrarily jump through time when it doesn’t play into the essentials of the story.

8. No Satisfying Conclusions Since Season 5

In the early days of The Walking Dead, AMC was ecstatic to see viewership rise with each new season.  Why, you ask - Because back then the show gave you something to care about.  It gave audience a conclusion to work toward and a feeling of shock, awe and satisfaction when the finale credits began to roll.  What happened?

Rick and the others look on at an untouched Alexandria.                                                                                                                                          Rick and the others look on at an untouched Alexandria.

Season 5 has often been called the best season of the show.  Rick and his group’s arrival to Alexandria brought a fascinating new dimension to the usually colorless, dismal world they’ve come to inhabit.  It was exciting TV, setting the stage for an explosive sixth season premiere.  It was after this point things started getting a little wonky.  Season 6 was highly criticized for its lazy writing and its penchant to “play with the audience.”  Things never really recovered after that as the situations became sillier and packed way less of a punch.

7. Characters Continually Making Stupid Decisions

Why, oh why?  It’s become a common phrase, often bursting out of viewers mouths in pure exasperation during moments of high.  I mean, seriously, after all this time, when are characters going to learn that being loud attracts the horde?  Decisions like these are what make characters look completely idiotic and worse yet, make the show as a whole come off as artificial. 

How many more suspicious, untrustworthy characters are we going to see get the benefit of the doubt?  How many more times is someone going to storm off in a moment of high emotion, only to get killed by a Walker?  They’ve made it this far, it’s time to smarten up and practice the rules you’ve picked up from these many harrowing years.

6. Prolonging Stories For No Reason

The biggest criticism for a lot of fans has often been the show losing sight of its original intentions.  After a zombie outbreak causes a total collapse of society, those still living begin to lose their humanity in while struggling to survive.  It was simple, but left a lot open to craft great storylines. 

                                                                                                                                         The trash people look on during their introduction to the Atlanta survivors.

An example that comes to mind is the introduction of the so-called “Trash People”.  Interesting in the sense that this group was crafted completely from the show’s writers and not from the comics, this new group completely dropped the ball and viewing became a slog whenever they were on screen.  The stoic-faced, often one word answer-giving junkyard dwellers did little to excite viewers and their eventual betrayal of the Alexandrians was a welcome uptick in an otherwise uninteresting storyline. 

 

 5. Too Much Carol

Often, television has a bad habit of introducing characters that eventually wear out their welcome.  This may be an unpopular opinion, but I can’t think of a better example than Season 1 alum, Carol Peletier.  It was intriguing to see Carol evolve from a helpless, battered woman to a self-sustainable super-chick, but after Season 5 she has become all but unbearable.

After arriving in Alexandria, Carol receded into her old behavior, becoming increasingly cold and distant towards the group.  Yeah, it’s cool how she’s become a leader in the Kingdom, but her Mary-Sue-like tendencies have become less than imaginative storytelling.

4. The Show Isn’t an Ensemble Anymore

The thing that kept us coming back season after season was our growing attachment to Rick and his core group of survivors.  We got to know these people and came to love many of them, it was a great ensemble.

                                                                                                                                          Tara fights her way through a horde of zombies.

As early as Season 7, we started to see these increasingly fractured storylines where you wouldn’t see certain characters for multiple weeks in a row.  Maybe that’s okay to linger on a character when they are important to you, but when it’s week after week of less than intriguing people (*Cough* Tara *Cough*) you can’t help but lose interest in a show becoming more and more narrow-sighted. 

3.  Mid-Season Breaks

This is much more a fault on The Walking Dead’s distributor AMC than the show itself, but the mid-season breaks simply have to stop.  The finales leading into the break aren’t exciting anymore, the writing is as lazy as ever, and the long gaps in between the two parts just cause the mind to wander to other things, shown by the record low ratings from last season’s second half premiere. 

2. Fear The Walking Dead Is Not A Good Show

A copy of a copy of a copy.  What happens when you take a show premise and suck all of the life out of it?  Well, you get a zombie of a show.  With the popularity of The Walking Dead causing a boom in the zombie genre, it was only a matter of time before AMC decided to milk their success even further with Fear The Walking Dead.

                                                                                                                                                  LA survivors walk through ruined streets on Fear The Walking Dead

It is zombie overload.  The Los Angeles-based survivors are a crummy substitution for the original Atlanta gang and this shows through its consistently lukewarm writing.  You don’t care about these people, it is just more zombie stuff shoved in your face.  If AMC wanted to expand the Walking Dead universe, there’s a way to do it, but slapping a subpar product together is a sure fire way to cheapen the main attraction.

1.  Fans Are Simply Losing Interest

I’m afraid The Walking Dead will end the way many once great shows do: slowly wind down instead of going out with a bang.  Breaking Bad, another AMC creation, had the good fortune and good sense to end the show when it was at its optimal best and peak popularity.  Viewers felt a sense of satisfaction, taking solace in the fact that the show was never bad.  The Walking Dead will have no such send off.

AMC had a massive hit on its hands when The Walking Dead first hit the cable waves, but that was a long time ago.  Many viewers have grown up and have better things to do with their time than see how a show that severely lost its way is going to conclude.  Is that the fault of the producers and writers?  Possibly  Or maybe is it just the natural course of things?  It’s not about running out of ideas, it’s about running out of good ideas to keep things fresh and interesting and unfortunately for The Walking Dead, their time may be just about up. 

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I spend thousands of hours exploring other people’s worlds, one of these days I probably won’t come back. If I see something scary in there, I'll be sure to let you know.
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