You might say the show’s ratings are going down the drain
Photo: Gene Page/AMC Networks

[Spoilers for this past Sunday’s midseason premiere of The Walking Dead below, so if you haven’t already surmised what happens to Coral, consider checking out our new feature about the intersection of the internet and pop culture.]

On Sunday, The Walking Dead returned for the second half of the second season of Negan. The midseason premiere, “Honor,” served up some payback to the Alexandria folks, courtesy of the show’s grinning jackanape of a villain, while Carol and Morgan’s team-up lent some excitement to the proceedings. The episode also saw Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) finally bowing out after being bitten by a walker in the midseason finale, but not before a drawn-out death scene that our own Zach Handlen found perilously close to self-parody.

There was a lot of setup and action for a change, but it did little to shore up the show’s ratings. Variety reports that “Honor” is the Walking Dead’s lowest-rated midseason premiere ever. That poor showing comes two months after the series posted its lowest midseason finale numbers last December with “How It’s Gotta Be.” The February 25 episode scored a 3.6 rating in the key adults 18-49 demographic with 8.3 million viewers. Now, that’s an improvement on “How It’s Gotta Be,” but it still places “Honor” at the bottom of the midseason premiere pile.

The Walking Dead implemented the midseason cutoff in season two (the first season was only six episodes long). Here’s how they all rank against each other, according to Variety:

Season 4 (2014)– 8.2 rating, 15.8 million viewers

Season 5 (2015)– 8.0 rating, 15.6 million viewers

Season 6 (2016)– 6.8 rating, 13.7 million viewers

Season 3 (2013)– 6.1 rating, 12.3 million

Season 7 (2017)– 5.7 rating, 12 million viewers

Season 2 (2012)– 4.2 rating, 8.1 million viewers

Season 8 (2018)– 3.6 rating, 8.3 million viewers

Obviously, these numbers are still high enough to make The Walking Dead one of TV’s most-watched shows—it really only trails Game Of Thrones at this point. But the latest ratings call into question TWD’s future as must-see TV, especially when the departure of an original cast member isn’t enough to bring back even those viewers who might have drifted after Hershel’s farm or Hershel’s farm redux (a.k.a. the prison).