Negan's victims revealed in new season opener

The first episode of season seven of The Walking Dead has been criticised by a US TV watchdog group for its “graphically violent” and “brutally explicit” content.

The hit zombie show returned on US network AMC on Sunday night (October 23) and in the UK last night (October 24), finally revealing to viewers who was killed by Negan.

Season six concluded back in April with a cliffhanger ending that saw an unidentified character (or characters) being beaten to death by newly introduced character Negan, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, the Parents Television Council President Tim Winter said: “Last night’s season premiere of The Walking Dead was one of the most graphically violent shows we’ve ever seen on television, comparable to the most violent of programmes found on premium cable networks.”

Winter continued: “It’s not enough to ‘change the channel,’ as some people like to advocate, because cable subscribers — regardless of whether they want AMC or watch its programming — are still forced to subsidise violent content. This brutally explicit show is a powerful demonstration of why families should have greater control over the TV networks they purchase from their cable and satellite providers.”

“I understand violence is inherent to the storytelling here but the manner in which the depictions were made… it crossed the line. With The Walking Dead, the creative team has resorted to the graphic violence as a crutch for what used to be better storytelling. When you can’t figure out what lines to write, you put something in easier, which is a graphic depiction. To me, it’s too much.”

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“Everything between the opening credits and the closing credits was graphic and explicit,” he went on. “You don’t need to show it to show it. Back in the day, you’d see violence about to be committed and then see you’d some after-effects of someone recovering or some other aspects rather than skulls crushed in. Now it seems like they can’t tell a story without adding the severity of the graphic violence, and it seems to me like a crutch.”

“Programmes with violent content are proven to be harmful, especially to children; and most parents agree that having greater control over violent content coming into their homes is vital to protecting their family,” he said. “When a basic cable network like AMC edges or even surpasses the premium networks in terms of explicit content, consumers must be afforded more control over which networks they purchase and which networks they don’t.”

Spoiler alert: the first episode of season seven, titled ‘The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be’, revealed the deaths of characters Glenn Rhee (played by Steven Yeun) and Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz).

NME‘s Charlotte Gunn previously predicted the likelihood of both Glenn and Abraham’s deaths, pointing out how the comic book which the show is based on saw Glenn die and arguing how Abraham “appeared to offer himself up for the slaughter”.

It has also been confirmed that The Walking Dead has been renewed for an eighth season. Season eight will premiere in late 2017, kicking off with the show’s 100th episode.