AMC’s The Walking Dead arrived in the fall of 2010 and immediately began drawing in a massive audience on Sunday nights. However, it is doubtful anyone imagined the show becoming one of the highest rated television series in cable history. While ratings have decreased in recent seasons, the show still manages to make a splash with impressive ratings each week it airs. Of course, this leads many to wonder whether AMC and The Walking Dead’s creative team is looking to draw the series to a close anytime soon. Given star Andrew Lincoln’s impending departure, curiosity with regards to what comes next has exponentially increased. Naturally, such curiosities raise the question of whether the show should end sooner rather than later, especially since it’s about to enter its ninth season.
Are there a number of reasons as to why The Walking Dead should gear up for final goodbyes? Absolutely, yes. Arguably, the same can be said of many television series that have run for longer than four or five seasons. Interestingly, there exists an equal number of reasons why AMC’s hit show should remain on the air for a while longer. The following list aims to examine both trains of thought. The list considers characters, narrative, and what The Walking Dead has accomplished in previous seasons. All the potential for future runs of the AMC show are additionally taken into account. Here are 10 reasons The Walking Dead should end and 10 reasons why we’d like to see it stay on.
20 REASON TO END: RICK'S LEAVING
Since The Walking Dead’s pilot episode, Rick Grimes has acted as the series’ focalizer. Typically, his point of view provides the lens from which the story is told. Rick’s role as a protagonist also positions him as the group’s leader over the course of several seasons. When life changing decisions need making, he often rests at the forefront of said decisions. With actor Andrew Lincoln departing during Season 9, we’re left to ponder how the show will fare.
Who will jump into the role of The Walking Dead’s new lead? How will that affect the overarching narrative going forward? These questions and more are to soon receive answers. Still, it seems an odd choice to make so late in a show’s run.
19 REASON TO STAY: RICK'S DEPARTURE
While Rick Grimes’ departing The Walking Dead may seem a negative, there’s plenty of good that could come of it, too. For one, the role of leader will be thrust onto another character. Thus, the dynamic between characters and the story’s focus must dramatically shift. Or, perhaps Rick’s departure means the show will fully embrace having an ensemble, allowing more than a small handful of characters to star as focal points.
Therefore, The Walking Dead remaining on air for a while longer opens the door for new possibilities. For now, it’s hard to discern what those possibilities entail. Yet, giving the series a chance to grow beyond Rick Grimes is bound to foster something quite intriguing.
18 REASON TO END: SURVIVAL IS PERPETUAL
There are myriad reasons as to why The Walking Dead could last indefinitely. Chief among them is one of the show’s key tenets -- survival. When it comes to narratives of an apocalyptic variety, the story can last in perpetuity; technically, it never has to end. Someone, somewhere is surviving a hardship thrust upon them by the harshest of circumstances. Within that particular reality rests a story worth telling, a character or several worth following.
Thus, The Walking Dead doesn’t have to end, because the story of enduring walkers and man’s inhumanity doesn’t have to end. This is seemingly the direction the story’s headed, since new characters often debut. However, finding suitable closure seems more worthwhile than a never ending fight to survive.
17 REASON TO STAY: JUDITH
Since Carl’s passing during Season 8, Judith has become the child to have survived the show’s apocalypse the longest. Of course, this isn’t saying much. Judith is still a toddler, after all. However, we have yet to see what growing into and out of childhood looks like in The Walking Dead’s version of the world. Could Judith provide such a storytelling opportunity? It certainly does not seem an impossible notion.
There does exist one issue, though. The show progresses at a slow pace -- Judith arrived in Season 3 and remains very young. Barring a massive time jump, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever see her grow out of childhood.
16 REASON TO END: FAN INTEREST DECLINING
Every show has ups and downs with regards to viewer interest and ratings. Not everyone that watches the pilot will be around when the final episode airs in a seventh season. The Walking Dead provides an interesting case study. Because it remains one of the highest rated shows on television, it’s hard to gauge whether the numbers are good or bad.
Big event episodes, such as season premieres or midseason finales typically draw the biggest audiences. Not so surprisingly, viewership takes a hit during intervening episodes. Of late, however, many are dropping the show all together, citing the narrative and character motivations as cause for their losing interest. Might this change in Season 9 with a new status quo on the horizon? We must wait and see.
15 REASON TO STAY: NEEDS TO END STRONG
With the status quo about to change due to Andrew Lincoln’s leaving the series, The Walking Dead does not appear to be in an optimal place for an ending -- not an entirely satisfying one, at least. There still exists far too many loose ends, many of which are character specific or are in relation to the world of The Walking Dead as whole.
Of course, it’s possible the series goes on for another several years without ever answering certain questions. What’s going on in the rest of the world? Is anyone actively working on a cure or vaccine? These questions won’t get the answers they deserves if the show ends too soon.
14 REASON TO END: LACKS TENSION FROM PREVIOUS SEASONS
Naturally, most long-running television series suffer from a loss of tension. It’s hard to keep the stakes high season after season, particularly when characters lead perpetually dangerous lives. In an apocalyptic setting, survival is of the utmost importance. However, after repeatedly seeing characters survive the worst of circumstances, the trick goes stale. Audiences can detect the twist, discern a character’s likelihood of survival based on precedent alone.
This The Walking Dead has suffered for several years. Are there ways these issues can be resolved in future seasons? It’s possible. Perhaps the show requires revitalization. Perhaps Rick’s story coming to an end ensures just that takes place sooner rather than later.
13 REASON TO STAY: STORY MAY CONTINUE EVOLVING
The Walking Dead’s pilot season focused almost exclusively on the Grimes family and their closest allies. As the show grew, this found family continuously expanded. The group’s constantly being on the move has been integral to such growth. Therefore, the more characters that debut, the more varied certain aspects of the show become. For instance, the integration of Rick’s group into the Alexandria safe zone during Season 5 greatly altered the cast of characters.
Alexandria also forced the group to readjust its habits in order to meet the community’s standards. Shifts of this magnitude are rare yet welcome, as they often provide the source from which new life is breathed into The Walking Dead.
12 REASON TO END: SOME CHARACTERS ARCS FEEL COMPLETE
For the main cast, many of the character arcs feel complete in that they’re finished growing. We’ve seen Carol go from being a housewife in trouble to one of television’s most formidable female characters. She’s tactically masterful, a brilliant combatant, and often uses people’s underestimation of her to an advantage. What more could The Walking Dead have in store for Carol?
Daryl and Michonne feel similarly complete. Perhaps Rick’s coming exit from the story will work to open new avenues for these characters. If so, it’s unfortunate that the growth of one character necessitates the possible end of another, especially since this happens quite often in AMC’s hit series.
11 REASON TO STAY: MORE TO LEARN ABOUT THE WORLD
The Walking Dead’s co-creator Robert Kirkman has said the show is unlikely to find a cure for the virus that plagues its world. As he explains it, the show has no use for scientists. This series focuses on how the average person manages under extreme circumstances. His reasoning is understandable. Yet, that the topic rarely comes up in the series itself seems puzzling.
There’s also the question of what’s going on in the rest of the world. Is civilization being restored on any front? Or, are we to believe everyone struggles in a similar fashion. A definite answer may not be necessary. However, even a small exploration of the happenings elsewhere seems worthy of The Walking Dead’s time.
10 REASON TO END: FOCUS ON FAMILY DIMINISHED
The Grimes family and their found family rests at the heart of The Walking Dead’s first few seasons. The cast’s large size makes the family seem quite expansive. However, no character ever feels out of place. Everyone has a role, something the audience can identify as their purpose for existing on the series. In later seasons, the role of certain characters becomes less and less clear.
As a consequence, family no longer sits center stage. Naturally, this is indicative of The Walking Dead’s evolution. Yet, such change has eroded the show’s focus on character and character interactions. Therefore, it’s hard to invest in a character’s survival when they themselves aren’t worth the effort.
9 REASON TO STAY: DARYL DIXON
Daryl Dixon represents one of the few characters that’s been a staple on The Walking Dead since Season 1. With eight seasons down and another one incoming, he remains a fan favorite. Daryl’s charm undoubtedly constitutes one reason for his being so beloved.
His growth from an introverted loner to someone willing to get close to others warrants much praise. Similar kudos are in order for the various ways in which his strength and will power has been tested. It would be interesting to see him take on a bolder role in the show, though. Perhaps The Walking Dead’s continuation would even further evolve Daryl as a character.
8 REASON TO END: HUMANITY OFTEN TAKES A BACKSEAT
Sometimes zombies are depicted as an allegory. The allegory can be political, cultural, or simply human in nature. Regardless, a zombie’s insatiable hunger typically mirrors the greed that plagues society. Therefore, zombie stories often hold a firm mirror to humanity and our various shortcomings. For a time, AMC’s The Walking Dead seemingly took this approach. Much of it results in man’s being more scary than the hungry undead.
Barring special cases, such as Negan’s fate in Season 8’s finale, the thematic connection between man’s inhumanity and walkers has rarely taken center stage of late. It’s possible that such a theme is difficult to keep balanced after several seasons of television.
7 REASON TO STAY: SECONDARY CHARACTERS
While The Walking Dead struggles with giving ample attention to both its main cast of characters and those of the supporting variety, the supporting cast does often prove intriguing -- the Oceanside ladies are endlessly fascinating. So, too, are some of the Hilltop Colony residents. These characters seldom receive integration into the core narrative. Yet, they often leave a good impression. More importantly, they leave audiences wanting to see them further explored.
Watching even some of these secondary characters develop in a fashion that mirrors the main cast would be well worth The Walking Dead carrying on for a while longer. There’s too much potential to ignore in this regard.
6 REASON TO END: REPETITIVE STORIES
The Walking Dead’s key villains are typically men who gain a little bit of power in the apocalypse, build a community, then abuse the aforementioned power. Popular foes The Governor and Negan count as the most notable examples. When such arcs don’t serve as a season’s primary conflict, the tension comes from concern of the group’s safe haven either being exploited by evildoers or overrun by zombies.
Two and a half seasons with Negan as the big bad, despite his being compelling, truly highlighted the redundancy in storytelling. Unfortunately, the worry has now become whether significant change will ever come. As of now, it’s difficult to tell.
5 REASON TO STAY: CAROL
Carol’s growth during the last few seasons of The Walking Dead seems to have hit a standstill. Over the course of the series, her character arc has been nothing short of incredible, inspiring even. From a terribly mistreated housewife to a woman capable of leading men into battle, Carol remains one of the AMC show’s most dynamic and compelling figures. Considering this leads to one question -- what else can possibly be explored of her character? The answer, plenty.
In all of Carol’s incredible character development, she has yet to take on the role of leader. Again, she commands a team of fighters like a veteran. However, her leadership skills are rarely put to use elsewhere. Carol and diplomacy appear as though they could match beautifully.
4 REASON TO END: MINIMAL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT FOR SOME
The Walking Dead is often a victim of having too large of a cast. Not everyone’s story can receive equal service on-screen. Consequentially, some suffer mightily. Character growth is nonexistent, resulting in stagnation or lulls in story beats, which in turn leaves audiences wondering why they should invest interest in a particular character or story arc.
Arguably, this can be said of Enid, who debuts in Season 5 and remains enigmatic. After three seasons, little seems to have changed about her. Interestingly, the final few episodes of Season 8 see Enid wrestling with a few moral questions. Yet, for her and other characters like her, such small developments for series mainstays leave a lot to be desired.
3 REASON TO STAY: PRODUCERS HAVE FUTURE PLANS
For years, the creative trust behind AMC’s The Walking Dead has insisted the show could go on for several more seasons. Showrunner Scott M. Gimple has been quoted as saying the series possibly has another 20 years in it, citing The Simpsons as an example. Many other shows in different genres and from different networks certainly prove that audiences are willing to stick around for an indefinite period of time.
Might The Walking Dead become the first genre show of its calibre to tackle this challenge? Should the series remain one of the most watched on television, AMC may have interest in giving it a chance. If nothing else, it would be incredible to see what the zombie series looks like in a decade or two.
2 REASON TO END: NO WORLD PROGRESSION
Who doesn’t want even just a few answers about what’s going on with the rest of the world in The Walking Dead. Will a cure or something world changing ever be discovered? Probably not. Still, there are myriad ways in which to explore civilization's downfall outside of the locations and characters that have been depicted for eight seasons.
To a certain extent, the show’s spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, tackles some curiosities, but for folks only tuning into the original series, plenty of world building is consistently left on the table. The Walking Dead’s lack of interest in taking advantage of other possibilities seems as though it won’t soon come to an end.
1 REASON TO STAY: MICHONNE
Like several other main cast members, Michonne has grown exponentially since she debuted. A cold warrior with a tragic past, Michonne now plays the part of a mother figure, lover, and confidant. Is there anywhere else The Walking Dead can take her character? The simple answer is yes. This holds true particularly because of Rick’s impending departure from the long-running series.
What role will Michonne take in her lover’s absence? How might that role fuel future seasons of the show? The remainder of the core group will need a rock to lean on, someone that can push them forward while also honoring the past -- Michonne couldn’t be a better fit.