"You can breathe. You can blink. You can cry. Hell, you're all gonna be doing that," taunts Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) before beating Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) to death in "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be," a gory and gut-wrenching episode of The Walking Dead aired five years ago today. Aired on October 23, 2016, on AMC, the Season 7 premiere resolved a nearly seven-month-long cliffhanger when the episode, scripted by Scott Gimple and directed by Greg Nicotero, revealed the fate of Negan's first Lucille victim after a deadly game of "eeny, meeny, miny, moe."
Named after an ominous exchange between Dr. Jenner (Noah Emmerich) and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in the first season finale, "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be" picks up where Season 6 ended: with Rick's group of zombie apocalypse survivors kneeling before Negan. Outmanned and outgunned, Rick and the Lucille lineup watch in helpless horror as Negan's "vampire bat" bludgeons Abraham to death.
Negan swings the barbwire-wrapped bat on Glenn, beat to brains and mush as he sputters his last words to his pregnant wife (Lauren Cohan): "Maggie, I'll find you."
Complaints submitted to the Federal Communications Commission condemned the episode, calling the Season 7 premiere "beyond brutal, beyond sick and beyond evil." More FCC complaints decried the "torture porn" episode that infamously shows the gory remains of Abraham and Glenn's deaths.
"The AMC show The Walking Dead has transformed from people killing soulless animated corpses into sadistic, emotional torture by showing people killing other people in the most brutal and sadistic ways," reads a 2016 complaint from one viewer, who claimed the episode "made me very anxious and sick to my stomach. Watching ISIS behead someone isn't as horrible as watching this tv show."
Another viewer who tuned into the TV-MA-rated episode with their 12-year-old child claimed to be "psychologically traumatized" by Glenn's gruesome death, complaining to the FCC that the scene was "by far the most traumatizing thing I have ever seen."
"That episode was really painful to write, and I think I was going through it from Rick, Maggie, and Sasha's perspective, and Rosita's as well — feeling it from their side of things," Gimple, then the showrunner of The Walking Dead, told Looper last year. "On a script like that, everything is shut down in life, and you're just working on that. And you're just getting inside of that, and that was, from a writing perspective, very difficult to go down that road. And to live inside that episode and then to shoot that episode and feel it."
Gimple added: "It was traumatic for me especially, I'm close with Steven Yeun and Michael Cudlitz. Even to write that episode correctly, I think you had to feel it, and it was pretty traumatizing. All of the deaths have been very hard, extremely hard. But that one, I kind of lived through it to write it."
See below how fans are commemorating the fifth anniversary of "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be." The Walking Dead Season 11 returns with new episodes February 20 on AMC. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD and stay tuned to ComicBook/TWD for coverage all season long.
5 years ago today @TheWalkingDead aired 7x01 'The Day Will Come When You Won't Be'. We lost Glenn & Abraham in this masterpiece of an episode. #TWD #TheWalkingDead #TWDFamily pic.twitter.com/iDMvJIMkOT— 🧟♂️ (@WeAreTWD__) October 23, 2021
10/23/16 on this day we #TWDFamily will never ever forget when Negan brutally killed Glenn and Abraham right in front of their friends and family Ik I wont ever forget this episodes one of the most upsetting season premiere of all We Still Miss these 2 RIP Glenn And Abraham #TWD pic.twitter.com/vZKvAUXftg— progamer🔥 (@Trevman891) October 23, 2021
Sigh 😔 I can’t believe It’s been 5 years since Glenn and Abraham died the lost but not forgotten Abraham had the best mustache on the show and Glenn was the best pizza delivery boy #TWD #Glenn #Abraham #TheWalkingDead pic.twitter.com/9uy1RFCRjq— Number one Father Gabriel Stan but spooky 🎃👻🕷 (@Dosch311) October 23, 2021