The Walking Dead went "a bridge too far" killing off both Abraham and Glenn (Steven Yeun) in the show's seventh season premiere, according to former Abraham Ford star Michael Cudlitz. In a change from creator Robert Kirkman's comic book, where Glenn was the sole victim beaten to death by newcomer villain Negan in the book's 100th issue, the show had baseball bat wielding bad guy Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) brutalize Abraham before killing Glenn in front of pregnant wife Maggie (Lauren Cohan). The Walking Dead's sixth season finale ended with an at the time unknown victim pulled from a lineup that included Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and other fan-favorites.
"I always think it was a bridge too far, personally. I thought it was too much," Cudlitz told Skybound's Talk Dead to Me podcast. "Either one of us should have lived a little bit longer."
Audiences were "very affected" by the gruesome murders in the Greg Nicotero-directed episode, which received numerous complaints filed with the Federal Communications Commission. Some complaints lodged against the episode, "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be," called the season opener "torture porn" and "beyond brutal, beyond sick and beyond evil."
"They said, 'Oh my gosh, these were the most graphic, brutal deaths, it was murder porn,' all this stuff," Cudlitz said. "Then you realize, there were a lot of other killings and murders and lives lost on the show that were a lot more brutal."
One such brutal killing: the fifth season death of Noah (Tyler James Williams), who was devoured by walkers as Glenn watched helplessly.
"We all loved Noah, but we only knew Noah for, I think, seven episodes. The fact that you loved Abraham and Glenn so much as an audience, that's what makes it more brutal," Cudlitz said. "You sort of think, 'Oh my gosh, it was Abraham. I'm sad it was Abraham, but thank God it wasn't Glenn. Oh my God, it's Glenn too! What are you doing to me?!'"
Cudlitz and Yeun's former co-star Lincoln argued the intentionally brutal episode should have showed restraint when killing Glenn, who was left unrecognizable from the beating that forced an eyeball to bulge out of his head.
"We've been able to terrify people in film for 100 years without having to show an eyeball," Lincoln told The New York Times in 2018. "When that happens, it diminishes what we're trying to make, which in my mind's eye is a family drama set in hell. It's not a sort of B-movie gorefest."
"It was rough emotionally for me because I remember reading the comic book and seeing Glenn killed in the comic book and I was really disturbed by how senseless it felt in the comic book," Nicotero told Collider. "Guy just says, 'eeney meeeny miney moe' and he's gone. It really bothered me. That moment came up in the show and I was really tight with Michael Cudlitz and I was really tight with Steven Yeun, and I knew that that was gonna land on my shoulders to direct that episode."
"I went in and I directed the best episode that I could direct knowing that I was breaking people's hearts and really, sort of, walking right on that line," he added. "Part of what the show really is about, in this iteration of the show, it really is about that senseless, 'One minute they're there, the next second they're gone.'"
The Walking Dead will air its Season 10 finale as a special episode on AMC later this year. For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.
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