Eeny, meeny, miny, more! Following confirmation that Season 8 will infect our lives later this year, #TheWalkingDead appears safe from cancellation for now. However, it turns out that if show runner Scott M. Gimple has his way, then Rick and his survivors may stay alive longer than even the most diehard fans might expect.
Speaking at the annual PaleyFest in LA, Gimple expressed his unholy desire to keep the walkers walking until at least 2030, arguing that this follows the precedent set by the original source material:
“We are trying to do twenty years. The [Walking Dead] comic has certainly done it, and I look forward to every issue. The Simpsons’ has been on 26, 27 years, so that’s a challenge — so OK, challenge accepted. Done."
While Season 7 has certainly had its highlights — including an eye-popping premiere that I once described as "the best episode yet" — perhaps it's time for The Walking Dead to just give up the ghost. Don't agree? Check out all the reasons why we think The Walking Dead shouldn't be resurrected after the Season 7 finale.
'The Walking Dead''s Ratings Are No Walk In The Park
Numbers are dropping off faster than a zombie's body parts, yet The Walking Dead continues to shuffle on anyway, mindlessly ploughing forward with an insatiable hunger for ratings.
Admittedly, the Season 7 premiere saw a huge Lucille-shaped spike in the ratings, but that tailed off again quickly once #Negan had finished having his fun. It seems then that big events such as these are what keep people invested, which is why viewing figures drop off in between pivotal episodes.
Sure, that may seem obvious to a point, but ratings are also dropping from season to season, which should worry The Walking Dead show runners a little bit more. Between the Season 5 and Season 6 finales, there was a 10 per cent drop, falling from 15.8 viewers to 14.2 million.
Don't get us wrong — these are still mind blowing figures, still positioning The Walking Dead as one of #TV's most popular shows. But a general boredom seems to be sinking in faster than Eugene can betray the survivors, and it looks as though this situation is unlikely to improve any time soon.
'The Walking Dead' Comics & TV Show Aren't The Same, And Shouldn't Be Treated As Such
While the first episode of The Walking Dead premiered in 2010, the comic upon which it's based actually kickstarted the zombie apocalypse way back in 2003. Since then, creator Robert Kirkman has always maintained that the comics' aim was to explore what would happen to survivors in the long term, continuing long after the typical zombie movie would end.
However, just because this works for the comics, that doesn't mean that this same approach fits the concept of an ongoing TV show. In the short term, fans were blown away by the concept of a zombie "movie" that never ends, but ultimately, TV and comics are very different formats. What works for one doesn't necessarily work for the other.
Just because The Walking Dead source material could continue forever doesn't mean that the show should. That's like saying superhero programs such as Arrow or The Flash should run for 20 seasons just because the comics have continued on for decades. Fans might want this to happen, but can any show of this nature maintain quality over the course of 20 years? Even Buffy The Vampire Slayer developed a horde of detractors by Season 7, and for many, Buffy was the pinnacle of genre TV.
'The Walking Retread'
During this year's PaleyFest event, Gimple explained how he and the rest of The Walking Dead team work to keep the show fresh year after year:
“We try to reinvent the show every eight episodes. We have this story that is a fidelity to the comic book, but we're also exploring original stuff, and those things help us go on every year."
While the comic book story lines do impact the show, that doesn't mean that The Walking Dead follows the source material exactly to the letter:
“We want to try do it better, do things we haven’t done, take risks. It's scary as hell, but as long as we keep doing that the show can go on and on.”
However, many detractors would argue this is exactly the area where The Walking Dead often falls flat. The majority of TV shows are formulaic to a point, but Rick and his merry band of survivors are more repetitive than most.
Aside from occasional event episodes, such as the aforementioned introduction of #Negan, The Walking Dead retreads the same blood-stained ground time and time again. After finding some kind of safe zone, Rick's survivors eventually discover that the zone is not so safe after all, forcing them to leave — and each time, they leave their doomed home as different people than they were when they started out. Along the way, the characters share vague dialogue, and very briefly mourn those who were lost in the last attack before replacing them a few episodes later. Oh, and it usually turns out that humans are the biggest monsters of all. For real though.
Sure, The Walking Dead still occasionally fascinates — thanks in part to fascinating character work from the likes of Carol and Michonne — but throwing in a few gore-tastic deaths in between can only hold our interest for so long. While the show's writers are limited in some ways by the direction of the comic, spin-off show #FearTheWalkingDead and the Telltale video game series have proved that the same old plot devices don't need to be recycled so frequently.
The Walker Threat Is Dead On it's Feet
As the world succumbs to the zombie epidemic, simple math dictates that the walker's numbers should rapidly grow as the human population diminishes. After all, it takes nine months to grow a baby, but zombies only need a few seconds to pull out your intestines. Combine that with the fact that everyone who dies will reanimate as a walker, regardless of how they died, and you're looking at some serious zombie numbers.
Despite this though, the threat of the undead remains wildly inconsistent in The Walking Dead. One minute, there are hordes galore, and the next, our survivors can casually walk for hours without fear of spotting more than a zombie or two. Even when the threat does seem too great, there's usually a convenient rescue staged by yet another group of people who have somehow overcome all odds and survived the apocalypse.
Let's add the show itself to this list of deaths from The Walking Dead:
Inconsistencies also arise in how dangerous the individual walkers are. Sure, it makes sense that our survivors have become more and more proficient at dispatching the zombies, but sometimes it seems that a decent push is more than enough to keep the flesh-eaters at bay. Realistically though, such an approach could easily lead to infection through a stray scratch or bite. Other times, it only takes an attack from one zombie to throw our survivors into a life or death situation that they may not walk away from.
- 'The Walking Dead': Did Robert Kirkman Just Reveal When Rick Might Die?
- 'The Walking Dead': Negan & Lucille Will Continue To Knock It Out Of The Park In Season 8 And Beyond
- Justice 4 Negan, And Other Villains Who Are The Misunderstood Heroes Of Their Own Stories
Gimple wasn't the only one to prophesize a long and healthy future for The Walking Dead at Paley Fest. Tom Payne, who plays Jesus on the show, said that the show's core fan base remain "fervent", suggesting that the creators "have endless creative juices flowing, and that is what keeps people growing".
But maybe not even Jesus himself can bring this show back to life. If AMC want to continue shooting The Walking Dead for 20 seasons, they'll need to think of new ways to revamp the formula pretty soon, before interest dies off quicker than members of Rick's inner circle. Wouldn't it be better for The Walking Dead to end on a high note while fans are still enjoying the show, rather than continue to flog an (un)dead horse?
Do you think The Walking Dead should continue for 20 seasons?
(Source — NY Daily News. Poll Image Credit: AMC)