'The Walking Dead' Ratings Rise for Andrew Lincoln's Final Episode

AMC spent plenty of time advertising Sunday night's episode of The Walking Dead as the final appearance of Rick Grimes on the series, but the efforts brought only a little bit of help.

After spending most of the season declining in the ratings, Sunday night's new episode, "What Comes After," brought a slight lift to the series. 5.4 million viewers tuned in for the Season 9 episode, helping it achieve a 2.1 rating in the coveted 14-49 demographic. While those numbers are far from the heights the show has reached in the past, they did mark a six percent increase from last week's ratings and audience. It's also worth noting that this is the highest the ratings have been since the Season 9 premiere, which had 6.1 million live viewers and a 2.5 demo rating.

The lift in viewership and ratings should be encouraging, but things have been fairly dire for The Walking Dead all season long. Judging by AMC's promotion of the episode, it's safe to assume that the network thought Rick's farewell would draw an even bigger crowd than it did.

While The Walking Dead's lift was fairly small, Talking Dead saw a much more significant boost. The AMC after-show had 2.7 million live viewers, along with a 1.0 rating in the demo. Those numbers represent 48 percent and 66 percent increases from last week's episode. Part of the reason for the gains here were the appearances from Melissa McBride, Scott Gimple, and Yvette Nicole Brown.

During the new Talking Dead episode, Gimple announced that Rick Grimes would be returning in a trilogy of TV movies that will spinoff from The Walking Dead, and tell the story of his time after his exit.

“We have a lot on the horizon – starting with a new epic featuring one of the greatest leading actors in television history and one of the best people I’ve ever met,” Gimple said in the statement.

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“These films are going to be big evolutions of what we’ve been doing on the show, with the scope and scale of features. We’re starting with the first part of the continuing story of Rick Grimes, and there is much more on the way, featuring yet-unseen worlds of The Walking Dead and faces from the show’s past, as well as new characters we hope to become favorites, told by TWD veterans and emerging voices. We want to break new ground with different, distinct stories, all part of the same world that’s captured our imagination for nearly a decade of the Dead.”

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET. Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fifth season in 2019. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter and watch ComicBook.com's After The Dead each Sunday night following new episodes.