Its 93 percent topples Season Five, the previous series best with 89 percent, surpassing Season Three and One (both 88 percent), Season Four (83 percent), Season Two (81 percent), Season Six (77 percent), Season Eight (64 percent), and Season Seven, the lowest-rated at 63 percent "fresh."
The rejuvenated zombie drama has benefited from longtime writer-producer Angela Kang's transition to showrunner, taking over from five-season showrunner Scott Gimple, who exited that position following his own promotion to Walking Dead chief content officer for network AMC.
Working alongside series veteran directors Greg Nicotero and Michael E. Satrazemis are an influx of new talents, including series newcomer Meera Menon — director of 911, 'Bounty' — and first-time director Michael Cudlitz, who previously starred as Abraham Ford before returning this season as director on 907, 'Stradivarius.'
"I was proud from the moment I started [working on The Walking Dead]. I'm that much prouder to have promoted Angela Kang to showrunner and to step back and tell different stories," Gimple previously told Us.
"I think that The Walking Dead is a place where you can find great female voices, great female artists and stories that honor female characters, not as a novelty but as intrinsic story value."
In addition to increased roles for its leading actresses and characters — Danai Gurira's Michonne, Melissa McBride's Carol, and Lauren Cohan's Maggie — The Walking Dead has shifted again with the introduction of Alpha (Samantha Morton) and the Whisperers, a new breed of enemy who disguise themselves within the flesh of walkers.
"It really has different emphasis that other seasons have not, and that's to give the audience something new," Gimple said of the show changing hands for the first time since 2013.
"The pressure I would imagine with any show, whether it be this show or 60 Minutes, is after all these years providing some novelty, new stuff, fighting hard to give the audience an experience that they haven't had in eight years. Going into our ninth season, that's been the big thing. And I think that this incredible writing staff, that this incredible cast has really risen to the occasion, the producers. And it feels great!"
The Walking Dead has since been renewed for a tenth season and shows no signs of slowing.
New episodes premiere Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
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