It's time for The Walking Dead to meet the true death (to borrow the parlance from True Blood). It's not just time for the series to come to an end - is arguably way past time.
Of course, it seems like a pretty routine occurrence to have a discussion of The Walking Dead coming to end; in fact, the topic seems to come up with every new season premiere, finale and mid-season bridge. However, after the game-changing season 8B premiere this week, there's actually more reason than the usual declarations from haters that Walking Dead is a lame, zombified, duck stumbling around.
Read below for our breakdown why the end is truly nigh, this time:
There's Little Left of Rick
Rick Grimes was an interesting character at the outset: a lawman trying to hold on to ideas of law, order, and justice, against the backdrop of a lawless and chaotic world. Trying to 'carry that fire' of civility and hope for his family (both the blood and bonded ones) made Rick an even more compelling leader and protagonist.
Since then, The Walking Dead has indulged (even delighted at times) in breaking Rick Grimes down. With this latest loss of Carl, who had been the driving force of Rick's actions for much of the series, it seems we've gotten to the bottom of the emotional barrel for Rick.
Sure, he still has a daughter (Judith) - but she's largely been a non-starter as a major character. There's all the survivors Rick protects, but those people routinely die and get rotated out. For Rick Grimes, the story seems to be approaching an end point. While The Walking Dead could go on without him, it'd be better, and cleaner to end this installment with Rick, and launch a new installment, if desired.prevnext
It's Never Been Quality
This may be a hot take, but it must be said: The Walking Dead's major power has never been quality or substance: it's been leading the new wave of "event TV" entertainment.
The Walking Dead always suffers serious backlash when it settles into deeper character study stories (see: seasons 2, 4, 6), and then redeems itself with major "events" or twists that lure in viewers and make for huge ratings (see: seasons 3, 5, 7 or 8B). In that model, the returns for each "event" moment seem to be less and less, as the initial suspense or shock quickly peters out into another boringly standard TV drama experience that leaves fans unsatisfied.
In many ways, the appeal of The Walking Dead has been the B-movie quality of its craftsmanship (at least after Frank Darabont). The show needs to know what it is - and when it's run out of gimmicks. The lackluster or angry reactions of many to the season 8B premiere, suggests that erosion is happening even quicker than expected.prevnext
Actors' Time to Fly
Behind the scenes, the entire cast of The Walking Dead have become some of the biggest names in the industry. Andrew Lincoln had a fine film and TV career before TWD (Love Actually, Strikeback), and he hasn't been shy about saying he's ready to get back to some of those other career challenges.
Danai Gurira just became a major movie star, thanks to Black Panther; Norman Reedus has been ready for bigger things for awhile; Lennie James has finally seen his top-notch character acting valued by the industry (see: Blade Runner 2049); Sonequa Martin-Green went from being on the show to leading a popular new Stark Trek Discovery series; while Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan could potentially play Batman and Joker (respectively) in DC Films' upcoming Flashpoint movie.
Even dead cast members like Steven Yuen (Stretch Armstrong, Trollhunters), Chad L. Coleman (The Orville) and Emily Kinney (Arrow) have moved on to successful new projects. At this point, it would be more of a career detriment to keep hanging around The Walking Dead long past your welcome.prevnext
There's Already a Bigger Universe
Just because The Waking Dead show would end, doesn't at all mean that the franchise as a whole would. As has been established, Robert Kirkman and AMC plan to keep that cash-cow going.
The process of expanding TWD into a franchise universe has been rocky so far (more on that next), but if the main show were to come to a close, fans would be forced into giving a new installment a bigger chance, while that new show could keep around certain resources (a couple of key characters or locales) to tie-into the new show.
Few fans are dead-set against the franchise expanding into an entire universe, so it's just up to the creators to find the gem of an idea and nurture it to fruition.prevnext
Let 'Fear' Live
Despite what the majority of skeptical fans (read: haters) are saying at this point, the dedicated fanbase that has stuck with Fear The Walking Dead was rewarded with a vastly improved season 3 storyline. Like the main show, FTWD has taken a bit longer to find its footing, and whittle things down to the most exciting and essential characters. But part of the reason it's had so much trouble is because TWD still lives.
Fear has come up on in the shadow of all the excitement around TWD's Negan storyline, the major character cliffhanger of season 7's premiere, and the road to all-out war with the Saviors. In that context, it's easy to see how FTWD could've been seen as little more than a side-stage show, but that's all changing.
Fear the Walking Dead season 4 will bring a long-awaited (and long hated) crossover between the two shows, which will be the first real opportunity for a new primary to take the lead. It would be smart for AMC to make the shift now, and invest in the next step of the franchise.
Do you think it's time for The Walking Dead to die? Let us know in the comments.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET on AMC. Fear the Walking Dead will debut its fourth season after The Walking Dead concludes its eighth, at 10 pm ET on April 15. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.prev