The Walking Dead continues to shamble just a little bit closer to its eventual demise, as the program pulled in its lowest-ever rating for its latest season premiere. Debuting on Sunday night on AMC, season 10 of the hit zombie drama drew about 4 million viewers with a 1.4 rating in the coveted 18-49 demographic. This sets the new series low for the long-running horror series, marking the lowest rating the show has ever gotten up to this point. These numbers are definitely still strong enough to keep the series afloat for now, but by continuing its downward trend the series has been experiencing over the past couple years, the end of the show's shelf life could be sooner than the heads at AMC might think.

When The Walking Dead debuted in 2010, it drew 5.35 million viewers, which was incredibly impressive for any series premiere (and especially horror). Created by Robert Kirkman as a comic book series and adapted for television by Frank Darabont, the show quickly grew even more in popularity from there. Season 2 premiered with over 7.26 million viewers, with the number growing to nearly 9 million by the season's end. At this point, the popularity of the franchise only continued to explode as seen from the ratings for the next several premieres: 10.87 million for season 3, 16.11 million for season 4, and its series-high rating of 17.29 million for season 5.

Viewership was a bit smaller for the premiere of season 6, which dropped to about 14.63 million viewers. Even so, those numbers are obviously insane, especially with the latest premiere pulling in over ten million less pairs of eyeballs. The introduction of Negan and the controversial cliffhanger at the end of the season contributed to season 7 pulling in the show's second-highest rating with 17.03 million viewers, bumping the ratings back up for one last high. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the decision to kill off fan favorite characters Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) and Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) in such devastating fashion, the next episode dropped to 12.46 million viewers. This marked the start of the show's downward spiral with its TV ratings, as seasons 8 and 9 premiered with 11.04 and 6.08, respectively.

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Bringing in 4 million viewers is still considered to be a good rating for any cable TV show, but it's needless to say The Walking Dead is not even close to being as popular as it was at its peak. For one reason or another, fans have been departing the series in droves, and a change in showrunner and stronger critical reception hasn't done much to turn the tide. Losing more and more fan favorites like Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) in recent seasons didn't help, nor does the exit of another major character like Michonne (Danai Gurira). Even so, AMC has already ordered another season of The Walking Dead and will soon debut a second spin-off of the zombie drama, so the powers that be don't seem too concerned.

It was recently reported Lauren Cohan will be back as Maggie Greene-Rhee in season 11 of The Walking Dead. However, with so many other key players already gone and with millions of fans having thrown in the towel long ago, the odds are against this being enough to bring the ratings back up. In any case, you can watch new episodes of The Walking Dead Sunday nights on AMC. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.

Jeremy Dick