Spoilers ahead for Season 7 of The Walking Dead!
The Walking Dead is one of the most talked about TV series ever — and after its sadistic seventh season premiere, that’s not likely to change any time soon. In the wake of not one, but two devastating losses and a whole lot of torture, October 23’s episode certainly started the season off with a bang. It also caused fans and critics to question whether The Walking Dead had finally gone too far.
Some feel the series has gotten so caught up in trying to shock us that it’s lost sight of the story that keeps us coming back for more. In many respects, the fans reactions are the most important, because after all, they are the people who can make or break a show. And a quick glance at social media shows us that the response to the premiere was emotional, explosive, and in many ways, varied. Here’s just a sampling of what fans are saying about the controversial start of The Walking Dead‘s Season 7.
1. Some fans are giving up on the show for good
The Walking Dead has never been a warm and fuzzy series. But after six full seasons of death, bloodier death, and still more violent death, the series finally crossed the line for some fans with the deaths of Abraham and Glenn. Numerous fans expressed frustration at the episode centering more around Negan being a bully and less on the characters we’ve grown to know and love. Others were vocal in saying that Glenn’s gory death, in particular, was just too gruesome and painful to watch. AMC has struggled to strike a balance between keeping fans on their toes and keeping them engaged in the series, especially in the last year. It looks like with this latest blow, the shock value outweighed the entertainment, and at least some fans will be jumping ship.
2. A few fans thought it was the best episode yet
Not everyone was upset with The Walking Dead‘s pivot toward flagrant nihilism. In fact, some viewers thought it was completely awesome. Amidst the mourning of Glenn and Abraham and the cursing of the show’s creators, Scott Gimple and Robert Kirkman, there were some fans that expressed unqualified excitement over the Season 7 premiere. They were all aboard the Negan train, quick to praise both Jeffrey Dean Morgan and the series for daring to go so dark. Some fans truly relished in the boundary-pushing, ramped up gore. They also didn’t hesitate to remind the less satisfied fans that we’re dealing with a series about death, and that both characters’ demises had already been telegraphed in the comics.
3. Some fans were torn on exactly how to feel
For a great many Walking Dead fans, the Season 7 premiere was the worst of times — but also maybe a little bit of the best. They were devastated, shocked, and disgusted by what they saw on-screen, and rapidly translated their onslaught of emotions into a non-stop stream of crying GIFs and emotional eulogies for Glenn and Abraham. But instead of swearing off the series for good, they were vocal about their amazement at how well the ensemble brought the dramatic episode to life. Fans called out Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yeun, and Lauren Cohan for their brave and heartbreaking performances, in particular — and remarked on how evocative the episode was. So while they were undone by the series, they also weren’t ready to give up on it.
4. Some fans have turned to humor to handle their grief
If there’s one thing that fans on the internet are great at, it’s turning even the most dire situation into something meme-able. And that was definitely the case during and immediately after The Walking Dead‘s Season 7 premiere. Regardless of where fans stood on whether or not the series went too far, many were quick to weigh in with an ironic GIF or a joke. As the carnage unfolded on-screen, fans on Twitter and Tumblr translated their trauma into countless pieces of dark humor. Most of their scorn was focused on the series’ creators, but they also saved some well-placed jabs for the characters themselves. Sure, it may seem a bit macabre to make light of a seriously disturbing hour of television, but The Walking Dead fans have honed their coping mechanisms over the years — and they had a lot to grapple with.
While it’s likely too early to find a consensus on how most fans feel about The Walking Dead‘s new normal, it’s safe to say they won’t be shy about sharing how they feel about future Season 7 episodes.
Follow Katherine Webb on Twitter @prufrox