ByElise Jost, writer at Creators.co
"It's a UNIX system! I know this!"
Elise Jost

Being a show about a group of survivors fighting other groups in a world infested with zombies obviously means a few drops of blood are going to be drawn — whether it's from the humans who are still alive kicking each other or the walkers having a little snack. But lately, has been at the center of a heated debate about the level of violence in its episodes, with Season 7 kicking off with some vomit-inducing skull crushing.

When some viewers expressed concern that The Walking Dead had gone overboard ever since Negan joined the party, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd said on January 18 that they "toned down" the violence in the next episodes after the reaction to the premiere. But the core of the Walking Dead fan base isn't here for toned-down zombies and baseball bats wrapped in candy floss, so the next backlash roared even louder than the first one: How dare they pander to the sensible stomachs of the masses?

'The Walking Dead' [Credit: AMC]
'The Walking Dead' [Credit: AMC]

It's no surprise, then, that showrunner Scott Gimple and executive producer Greg Nicotero have stepped up to make it clear that they would never compromise their creative vision with restrictions on the level of gore. Those who tune in to The Walking Dead for their weekly dose of smashed guts can breathe a sight of relief.

The Premiere Was Violent For A Reason

'The Walking Dead' [Credit: AMC]
'The Walking Dead' [Credit: AMC]

While Hurd admitted to reducing the violent content in the last few episodes they filmed, Gimple's explanation is that the rest of Season 7 is less violent than the premiere simply because only the opening justified spilling so much blood.

"The violence in the premiere was pronounced for a reason. The awfulness of what happened to the characters was very specific to that episode and the beginning of this whole new story. I don't think that's the base level of violence that necessarily should be on the show. It should be specific to a story and a purpose, and there was a purpose of traumatizing these characters to a point where maybe they would have been docile for the rest of their lives, which was Negan's point."

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In fact, the creators on the show will never restrict themselves, says Nicotero.

"As brutal as that episode 1 was, it's still part of our storytelling bible, which is what the world is about. I don't think we would ever edit ourselves, and I think — even after looking at that episode 1 again — as tough as it was for people to watch, I don't think we would have done it any differently. I don’t think we'll ever pull ourselves back. There is definitely a difference between violence against walkers and human on human violence, but truthfully, we're serving our story."

'What You Don't See Can Be So Much More Horrible Than What You See'

'The Walking Dead' [Credit: AMC]
'The Walking Dead' [Credit: AMC]

If, despite Nicotero's promises, you still get the feeling that recent scenes were trying to hide the amount of violence they involved, it's not because the producers stepped in — it's because that's how they chose to film it, Gimple insists. Take the scene in Episode 7 where Negan presses a hot iron to one of the Saviors' faces:

"What you don't see sometimes can be so much more horrible than what you see, what you imagine. And with the iron, that's a really good example. [...] That kind of strange burn, the audience doing that in their head, even hearing it, it's just a different moment."

So yes, even if you come for the gut exposing, the power of your imagination is still required to experience the show at its full potential. Until the next gruesome death, you can close your eyes and think about that premiere again — or rewatch all the kills from Season 7 below, and click here for more original Movie Pilot video content.

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(Sources: Variety, Entertainment Weekly)

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