Speaking recently in a panel discussion at the National Association of Television Program Executives conference, Gale Anne Hurd, one of the Executive Producers on AMC's hit zombie apocalypse drama "The Walking Dead" was quoted as saying “We were able to look at the feedback on the level of violence, adding "we did tone it down for episodes we were still filming for later on in the season."
However, Hurd is not the show's only executive producer and two of the others, namely Scott Gimple and Greg Nicotero, have now gone on the record to tell Entertainment Weekly that fan backlash did not change their approach to violence on the series.
"The violence in the premiere was pronounced for a reason," said Gimple. "The awfulness of what happened to the characters was very specific to that episode and the beginning of this whole new story. I don’t think like that’s the base level of violence that necessarily should be on the show. It should be specific to a story and a purpose, and there was a purpose of traumatizing these characters to a point where maybe they would have been docile for the rest of their lives, which was Negan’s point. But I will say again, the violence in the premiere was for a specific narrative purpose and I would never say that that’s the baseline amount of violence that we would show on the show. If we’re ever going to see something that pronounced, there needs to be a specific narrative purpose for it."
Fellow executive producer Nicotero said “As brutal as that episode 1 was, it’s still part of our storytelling bible, which is what the world is about. I don’t think we would ever edit ourselves, and I think — even after looking at that episode 1 again — as tough as it was for people to watch, I don’t think we would have done it any differently. I don’t think we’ll ever pull ourselves back. There is definitely a difference between violence against walkers and human on human violence, but truthfully, we’re serving our story.”
Whichever explanation strikes viewers as more convincing, even if the on-screen graphic violence doesn't exceed the intensity of the Season 7 opener, the show is still plenty violent, as Spencer's spilled guts in the mid-season finale can attest.
Airing Sundays at 9 pm ET/PT on AMC, “The Walking Dead” stars Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Melissa McBride as Carol Peleteir, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Green and Danai Gurira as Michonne.