What did TV fans really want for Valentine's Day in 2016? Daryl Dixon blowing sh-t up on "The Walking Dead." 'Cause it's not fun and games UNTIL someone loses an eye!

"The Walking Dead" series launched on Halloween, but it had never aired on Valentine's Day until this past weekend's Season 6, Episode 9. That wasn't just any episode, it was the midseason return after a two-month break. And it aired opposite a romantic "Bachelor" special, plus a "Tonight Show" special, the NBA All-Star game, the debut of HBO's "Vinyl," and even the premiere of "Frozen" on the Disney channel.

In terms of viewers, Episode 9, "No Way Out," averaged 13.7 million viewers and a 6.8 rating in the 18-49 demo. That's great. It was Sunday's most-viewed program by a lot. However, it was not as high as the past two seasons of Episode 9s, which brought in over 15 million viewers. And it didn't quite surpass the Season 6, Episode 8 midseason finale, which had a slightly higher overall viewer tally of 13.98 million and a 7.0 rating. But it's surprising to see these 2016 numbers interpreted by some as "down" in the ratings, as if TWD is slipping.

Episode 9 was awesome, far superior to Episode 8, but that's not the kind of thing viewers know before they tune in to watch the episode. So maybe after the meh midseason finale, some folks felt less must-see-RIGHT-NOW abut Episode 9. But the buzz about "No Way Out" has been strong enough that this episode will only grow over time.

Variety was kind of a Debbie Downer about TWD's latest ratings, but they still had to concede that "Even at this same-day demo level ... Sunday's hour of 'Dead' out-rates every episode this season of top broadcast scripted series 'Empire' and 'The Big Bang Theory.'" And, they added, "Following 'The Walking Dead,' the season premiere of 'Talking Dead' had a very strong showing (3.1 rating in 18-49, 6.44 million viewers overall), outdrawing all eight episodes from last fall." Even AMC's "Walking Dead" marathon episodes, aka reruns, ended up high on the February 14 cable ratings.

So TWD is still slaying, even on a night when society loves to shame us into believing we're failing if we don't leave the house for a date with someone special. We just did that at home this year with Daryl, Michonne, and company. But based on whispers about this Sunday's Episode 10, that may have been an even better choice for Valentine's Day...

Did you watch TWD "live" this past Sunday, record it for later, or skip it completely?

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The Walking Dead
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Based on 25 critics

Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, this gritty drama portrays life in the weeks and months following a zombie apocalypse. Led by police officer Ric... Read More

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