Has The Walking Dead Overstayed Its Welcome?

Sunday night I was scrolling through Facebook, as one is apt to do, and came across an article a friend of mine posted concerning that night’s episode of The Walking Dead. I had to stop my scrolling for a minute and comment. The article presented the idea that this could very well be the best episode of The Walking Dead in some time, if not ever, and it dawned on me that I hadn’t watched the show since it returned from break. I didn’t read the column because spoilers but I started to mull over my reasoning for not watching the show. I remember when it came back from break and asking Alyson if she wanted to watch, and she wasn’t feeling it, and after that, it appears that I wasn’t as well. When I think of The Walking Dead, I kind of feel tired which has me wondering, has The Walking Dead overstayed its welcome?

There was a time where my hype levels for this show were through the roof. Being an avid reader/lover of the comic and zombies this was a no brainer for me, but years of mediocre storytelling kind of wore on me. It’s troublesome when you know the story and have already been affected on an emotional level from the source material and then watching those feelings dissipate when translated on screen. Think of it this way, waking up on Christmas wanting a puppy and underneath the tree is a big box with holes in it. That’s got to be for a puppy, right?! You get all excited and open the box and find that there’s a sweater inside. The sweater may contain an image of a puppy but that’s not important. What is important is that you were lied to and for a while, that’s how I was feeling about The Walking Dead. I became jaded but also didn’t want to miss out on the social aspect of the show. I was left with a pile of sweaters.

I believed that the arrival of Negan could save the show and for a minute it did. The season six finale is one of my favorite episodes of this series and to follow it up with that season seven premiere… damn. I knew it was coming and I was still emotionally devastated. What followed was a lot of wheel spinning and storytelling that essentially went nowhere. It just reeked of missed opportunities, yet I still watched. Mostly for the social aspect but I held on to this tiny belief that the show could turn things around. Knowing the content of the comics gave me hope. The storylines were too good to mess up, but somehow showrunner Scott Gimple fumbled the ball over and over again. It was disappointing, to say the least.

Walking Dead 1

I came into this season of The Walking Dead with the mindset that it was a make or break year for me. Either the show wowed me with new showrunner Angela Kang or I would allow it to slip through my fingers and continue the journey with the comics only. I was okay with my choice, there are only so many sweaters one can receive. The departure of Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes seemed like a red flag but also like it could open the door to something new for the show. I’m not going to pretend like I had my doubts but I thought his final episode was well orchestrated as it transitioned to a new phase of The Walking Dead… movies.

After that, the show kind of just existed for me. I wasn’t angry with it, in fact, I was excited about the Whisperers but I didn’t feel the connection anymore. The need wasn’t there. It felt that The Walking Dead had overstayed its welcome, and with news of Danai Gurira leaving the show next year, someone has to defend Wakanda, I was left feeling that we were getting a bare-bones version of a show that once was the height of pop culture.

This last episode had fans talking but it felt a little more isolated than it used to be. This wasn’t reaching out to the masses of pop culture like Negan’s choice did. This was more Walking Dead fans talking about an episode that was kind of shocking. I don’t think it’s enough of a ripple to make the show relevant again. Especially in a time where Game of Thrones looks to be the last watercooler television series ever, The Walking Dead is limping into its season finale with no end in sight. That’s a problem. Any show that reaches ten seasons should be celebrated as it’s not an easy accomplishment. Especially in a world where streaming is king and cable shows live and die on ratings. Ten seasons is an accomplishment. With that being said, it is hard for any show to maintain the same level of quality with that long of a run. After a while, it’s just going to burn out and the problem with The Walking Dead is that AMC fails to recognize that that’s the case. Ratings have steadily declined and the social aspects of the show remain within the fan base. I very rarely hear people say “I need to watch The Walking Dead”. Nowadays it’s more like, “that show’s still on?”

AMC ignores all this almost doubling down on the series. Rumors started last week of another spinoff to the series and Danai Gurira transitioning to films with Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus possibly joining them. It would seem that the potential Walking Dead film trilogy is where diehard fans could turn to follow the characters they started this journey with, but at this point, they are straying so far from the source material that you have to wonder if it’ll translate. On top of that, Scott Gimple is handling the films and we already know his track record. The idea of a trilogy of films is interesting and all but isn’t this something that should have been implemented at the height of the show’s popularity and not when it’s starting to fade from the surface of pop culture? With no current release date isn’t it in the realm of possibility that the first film could be released when the ship has already sailed?

And does shifting the show’s biggest stars to movies mean that the television series is being abandoned? Within the last three seasons, we’ve said goodbye to major characters like Glenn, Abraham, Jesus, Carl, Maggie, and the main character Rick Grimes. Losing Michonne and possibly Daryl leaves only Carol from that first season. Is she a strong enough character to carry the series? At what point does the audience grow tired of the new cast of characters and move on with their lives? Maybe Negan is the answer but I’m not convinced. Wouldn’t you think that it would be in the best interest of AMC to devise an exit strategy allowing the show to go out on its own terms instead of being pushed out by a disenchanted/lack of viewership? I think The Walking Dead has earned that exit, I just wish AMC recognized that instead of running this franchise into the ground.

What do you think Geeklings, am I on to something here or have I just distanced myself too much from The Walking Dead? Let me know if you’d like to see the show end soon or keep going for the foreseeable future. Be sure to use the comments for your thoughts or you can throw me a line over on Twitter @iamgeek32. Maybe we can figure this one out together.

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