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There was a time when it seemed like everyone was watching The Walking Dead. Water cooler conversations centered around Rick Grimes and other survivors as they navigated the pitfalls of a zombie apocalypse. The show was intense, graphic, heartbreaking, and suspenseful. The AMC series quickly became one of the most popular shows on television.

Now one full decade after the premiere, the comic book-based story is nowhere near as popular as it once was. Critics point to a few specific instances of how and when The Walking Dead lost its luster and therefore, sacrificed many fans who used to love it.

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Negan on The Walking Dead
Negan on The Walking Dead | Gene Page/AMC

At first on The Walking Dead, a few survivors band together to defeat a common enemy of undead “walkers” who seek to eat their brains. Part of the intrigue of the show is combining people of all ages from different backgrounds and forcing them to work together just to survive.

Rick, a former sheriff, becomes a natural group leader and trusted source of strength for everyone. But as the series progresses, the survivors realize that their biggest threat to safety isn’t just zombies — they’re in much more danger from the other survivors who have formed rival groups and communities.

These villains include the Governor in season 3 and the cannibals living in Terminus. But then a super-villain emerges and everything changes for The Walking Dead players.

Fans couldn’t stand the Negan storyline

With increasingly evil antagonists threatening the main characters on The Walking Dead, writers were forced to find new ways to keep the story going. However, their introduction of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his followers the Saviors took things too far, fans claim. Early episodes of season 6 featuring Negan were considered too unnecessarily gory and sadistic.

Ever since Negan started causing havoc, viewership began dropping by the millions. Screen Rant reported that season 5 averaged over 14 million viewers per episode while season 6 was 13 million. By season 7, that number dropped to 11 million and has continued declining.

Besides just the gross-out factor, fans felt the Negan storyline dragged on far too long. Rick spent more than 2 seasons trying to defeat him and once he finally did, many former fans had lost interest. They complained there were too many filler episodes that could have been cut.

Major characters were killed in season 6


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The Walking Dead never shied away from killing major characters, but by season 6 there were so few members of the original cast left that viewers became irritated. One of the most difficult deaths was Rick’s son Carl halfway through season 8. However, fans were annoyed even before that.

Glenn’s incredibly gory death at the hands of Negan in season 6 is often cited as a major example of showrunner Scott Gimple choosing shock value rather than creatively enhancing the narrative.

Season 9 saw a new person — Angela Kang — in charge of the show, which many fans see as a positive. But it won’t be easy to win those lost fans back. After a strong beginning and a lackluster middle, it appears The Walking Dead could be coming to an end soon.