After putting fans through a grueling cliffhanger for its sixth-season finale, ‘The Walking Dead’ is not likely to repeat a similar stunt for Season 7’s conclusion, according to creator Robert Kirkman.
Controversy followed the end of Season 6 after the shows new antagonist, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), randomly executed a member of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) group. However, Negan’s victim was not revealed, fueling a wave of negative feedback. Kirkman, who serves as an executive producer on the series, admits that part of the audience was not happy with the cliffhanger.
“I think everyone on ‘The Walking Dead’ creative team has taken note of that, and I don’t know that I would expect a similar cliffhanger at the end of Season 7”, Kirkman told Entertainment Weekly.” At the same time, I know it’s just a small portion of the audience, and a lot of people actually like the mystery and are enjoying the guessing game that they’re playing over the summer, so I don’t know. “But you get to Season 6 on a show and you try new things and sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t … everything that (showrunner) Scott Gimple is putting together is an effort to keep the show exciting, and engaging, and keeping everybody excited about it.”
Fans of “The Walking Dead” comics knew the shocking scene with Negan was coming and who was destined to die, but the series has never been shy about shaking up expectations. That leaves Kirkman confronting a “no-win situation” as he walks a tightrope between predictability and creating a “copout” moment for the series.
Keeping the identity of Negan’s victim from the audience, however, may have been a step too far. “Gauging fan reaction while you’re writing a story is a progress killer, and an enthusiasm killer, because you can never anticipate … I mean, we could’ve never anticipated the uproar that happened on the Internet over the cliffhanger,”he said. “We’re always just sitting down and trying to tell the best stories and do the best job of adapting my material from the comic.”
Regardless, the premiere is likely to bring new controversy once Negan’s victim is revealed and a potential fan favorite is lost. But that’s one of the show’s strengths.
Rarely is anyone safe.
The seventh season, which kicks off Oct. 23 on AMC, centers on Grimes and his fellow survivors as they face the ramifications of Negan’s new world order, and it will feature the introduction of Ezekiel (Khary Payton), who — with his pet tiger, Shiva, at his side — leads a settlement called The Kingdom.
The Walking Dead