The opening episode of Season Seven of The Walking Dead in the US scored huge ratings with over 17 million viewers tuning in.
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.
Sunday night’s rating in the US was up 22 percent from the Season Six finale, according to Entertainment Weekly but it still didn’t beat the zombie drama’s all time high, the Season Five premiere – which stands as the show’s biggest overnight rating with 17.3 million viewers and an 8.8 rating.
The series was also the highest trending topic on Twitter in the UK following the Season Seven premiere last night, with many fans expressing their horror at the latest episode. Others also posted amusing GIFs. You can view a selection below:
The Walking Dead used to be one of my favorite shows, but this last episode was absolutely horrifying. I hated every minute of it
— Lana (@HelloImLana) October 24, 2016
twd fandom to twd writers https://t.co/r0rCAjOTfW
— . (@jemscarstairs) October 24, 2016
me after watching the walking dead pic.twitter.com/kI71bf0UCc
— high school problems (@schoolprobIems) October 24, 2016
The opening episode was also criticised by a US TV watchdog group for its “graphically violent” and “brutally explicit” content.
But director Greg Nicotero defended the episode and said it was important to stay true to the comic.
He added: “What struck me about [the comic] was it was horrifically graphic and senseless and brutal. In this instance, we felt that it was important to launch us into this season by showing the extent of what Negan is capable of doing. It’s really unfortunate that people want to take a negative spin on it because, as far as I’m concerned, I’m dedicated to watching a show because I want to see where the story’s going to go next.”
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).
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.