"The Walking Dead" is still the top-rated cable show with a huge, loyal audience.


It's no secret the ratings have been going down. The "Walking Dead" Season 8 return episode actually ticked up from the December 2017 midseason finale, but it was down from every midseason premiere since the show started having midseason premieres in Season 2.

There are multiple reasons, including competition from the Olympics Closing Ceremony, "Celebrity Big Brother" finale, and "The Bachelor: Women Tell All."

However, considering everyone knew this was the Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) death episode -- because AMC teased it out from Episode 8 to Episode 9 -- you'd think that would give it a major viewing boost. Instead, the February 25 supersized return episode earned 8.3 million viewers and a 3.6 rating in the 18-49 demo.

As Variety reported, that's a bit up from the 7.9 million and 3.4 Episode 8 ratings from December. But look at how the ratings stacked up against the other midseason premieres (Season 1 only had six episodes, so it doesn't factor):

  • Season 2 (2012)– 4.2 rating, 8.1 million viewers
  • Season 3 (2013)– 6.1 rating, 12.3 million
  • Season 4 (2014)– 8.2 rating, 15.8 million viewers
  • Season 5 (2015)– 8.0 rating, 15.6 million viewers
  • Season 6 (2016)– 6.8 rating, 13.7 million viewers
  • Season 7 (2017)– 5.7 rating, 12 million viewers
  • Season 8 (2018)– 3.6 rating, 8.3 million viewers

Season 4 and Season 5 were clearly the heydays, and the show has lost nearly half of its audience since that point. The 2018 midseason premiere had slightly more overall viewers than 2012's Season 2, but the ratings are important to advertisers, and that new low of 3.6 is #sad.

TWD fans got #TheWalkingDead trending on Sunday, and Twitter gave Carl Grimes his own emoji. Jeffery Dean Morgan (Negan) followed the episode by sharing a post saying he was disappointed that the Negan-Carl relationship was cut so short.

SPOILER (for the six people that are somehow in the dark... and get news from Instagram?) @chandlerriggs5 man.... what a pleasure. Not only getting to work with you... but, getting to know you. You, my friend, are an incredible young man. Well before joining this cast I was a fan... a fan that loved watching you grow up in front of a camera. From the moment you first put on the way too large sheriffs hat as a boy... to the end, the hat so befitting of the man Carl had become. Wiser and more compassionate than all of us. You held all of our hearts. Honestly... a huge reason I wanted so badly to join this band of misfits... was because I was such a fan of the Negan Carl relationship in the comics... that storyline was one of my favorites, as I know it was one of yours. I'll forever be dissaponted we only scratched the surface of what could have been. BUT... I can take total solace in the fact that you are out there... doing your thing. You've grown into an amazing young man as well as a powerful actor... the world is your oyster Riggs. We all get to sit back and watch you kill it. So.. know you are missed on the show... but know you have a big ole group of family all here for you if needed... and eagerly awaiting whatever comes next. Love you Riggs. See you soon.

A post shared by Jeffrey Dean Morgan (@jeffreydeanmorgan) on

Skybound, home of "The Walking Dead" comics, took pains to remind people that Carl is still alive ... in Robert Kirkman's graphic novels:

TWD has been losing viewers drip by drip since Negan Lucille-d Glenn and Abraham in the Season 7 premiere. "The Walking Dead" Season 8 continues with Episode 10 of 16 on Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC. When Season 9 starts up later this year, it will have a new showrunner. That's probably not a coincidence.

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