The Walking Dead series-low ratings signal the beginning of the end

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC /

The Walking Dead is in the midst of season 9, but the low ratings and the impending departure of Andrew Lincoln might mean that the end is near.

When Andrew Lincoln announced that he would be leaving The Walking Dead at the end of season 9, many thought that the departure of lead character Rick Grimes would be enough to finally end a series that many believe should have ended a few seasons ago.

However, the massive and, more importantly, somewhat consistent ratings basically assured fans that The Walking Dead would continue for years to come despite the departures of Lincoln and Lauren Cohan.

Unfortunately, ratings for season 9 of The Walking Dead have been absolutely terrible through the first few episodes. Yes, this is an extremely small sample size, and, yes, it is not time for AMC or The Walking Dead fans to panic just yet, but these numbers should be a concern with Lincoln departing and the future uncertain.

From the first season to the fifth season, The Walking Dead consistently increased in viewership each season, going from a solid AMC weekly average of just over five million viewers an episode to a massive, major broadcast network level of viewership in nearly 14 million viewers an episode.

Since the fifth season, viewership began to decline. The sixth and seventh seasons both maintained above 11 million average viewers an episode — still fantastic numbers — but season 8 dropped to under eight million viewers an episode.

With season 9 currently averaging just over five million viewers an episode, this current trend means that The Walking Dead could be on the path to cancellation in the near future.

The Walking Dead might love zombies, but TV networks, including AMC, will not keep a dying show alive just because it has an amazing fanbase or because of the success it had in the past.

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That being said, AMC will likely at least give a season without Lincoln a shot and the numbers could still rebound this season. However, things do not look good for The Walking Dead and the ratings are something to keep an eye on moving forward.