April 4, 2016. It's the date of death for more televisions than any day before. As Negan brought his bat down on The Walking Dead's sixth season finale, 16 million fans of the series were left furiously wondering who the show's new villain killed.
Comment sections swore they would never watch the show again. Reddit users promises to boycott. Petitions were formed to reveal the kill.
Flashforward. Today. Season 7 premiere week. All of the fans are back and more excited than ever for a new hour of The Walking Dead. The summer has come and gone and hype for The Walking Dead is at an all time high. The cliffhanger conquered both San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con. Negan has been plastered on billboards and iPhone backgrounds.
The cliffhanger worked.
Executive producer and visual effects genius behind the AMC series Greg Nicotero recently opened up about the cliffhanger while speaking to ComicBook.com, six months later.
"There was indeed a gut reaction to the cliffhanger by some people," Nicotero said. "I think after that shock wore off, probably about two weeks later, the response that I got was that people thought it was one of the best episodes that we had ever produced. As far as I was concerned, I was very proud of the episode. I feel like it elicited the emotion that we wanted and we used the camera to sort of confine and create this futile feeling of claustrophobia. I think that we checked off all the boxes."
The Season 6 finale, one of the most controversial episodes of The Walking Dead, is also a fan-favorite. Now, with the new season is upon us, the approval rating from fans seems to be on the rise.
"The fact that people were upset that the episode ended that way was a knee jerk reaction that within a couple weeks that sort of went away," Nicotero said. "People were like, 'Wait, you mean we have to wait?' Now that we're getting close to it, I think the overall consensus is that we like going on this journey and they want us to keep it exciting and keep it thrilling and keep the mystery. Otherwise why bother investing yourself in a show if there's no mystery or excitement to it."
The cliffhanger style of storytelling is nothing new to television. The Negan's kill cliffhanger is hardly the most mysterious in the past year. Game of Thrones fans had to wait almost a year to find out whether or not Jon Snow was going to survive the betrayal by the Night's Watch and, as it would turn out, Nicotero is a huge fan of the HBO series.
Following the premiere of The Walking Dead's seventh season, ComicBook.com will be live with Dwight actor Austin Amelio for a recap of the brutal episode and a look into the future of the series on After the Dead.
The Walking Dead returns for its seventh season on October 23 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. For complete coverage and insider info all season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.