A brutal double-murder at the start of The Walking Dead season seven led to millions of fans departing the series, and looking back, former star Michael Cudlitz is suggesting the hit show would have been much better off sticking to a single victim. When the seventh season kicked off with the episode, "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be" in 2016, it resolved the infamous cliffhanger that had been presented to fans at the end of season six. That episode introduced Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan by having the iconic villain kill a fan favorite character, though the identity of the victim was not revealed.
In between seasons, there was lots of speculation over just who might die at the hands of Negan in the seventh season opener. In the original comic book series, it was Glenn who gets picked for a bludgeoning after Negan plays the "eeny meeny" game. To trick the comic readers, the TV adaptation instead had Negan choose Abraham to die during the dark scene, only to graphically kill Glenn anyway just a few moments later. According to the man who played Abraham, the show went a bit too far by axing both fan favorite characters at once, suggesting the scene would have been better received if the writers had instead stuck to offing just one or the other.
"I always think it was a bridge too far, personally. I thought it was too much... Either one of us should have lived a little bit longer," Michael Cudlitz explained on Skybound's Talk Dead to Me podcast. The former Walking Dead star also suggests that it wasn't so much the brutality of the scene, as we've all seen much worse on The Walking Dead, but the mere notion of wiping out two favorites in quick succession.
"The fact that you loved Abraham and Glenn so much as an audience, that's what makes it more brutal," Cudlitz explains. You sort of think, 'Oh my gosh, it was Abraham. I'm sad it was Abraham, but thank God it wasn't Glenn. Oh my God, it's Glenn too! What are you doing to me?!'"
The Walking Dead was at its peak when the Abraham and Glenn double-death episode aired, with the season seven premiere pulling in over 17 millions viewers live. Following the cliffhanger reveal, around five million viewers immediately stopped watching the series, and those numbers have only continued to dwindle in the seasons since. Major stars like Chandler Riggs and Andrew Lincoln following suit did very little to help the falling ratings, as it appears many of these fan favorite actors were taking millions of viewers away from the show along with the departures of their characters.
Still, while The Walking Dead is far from the ratings juggernaut it once was, it remains AMC's flagship program with no clear plans to end the series anytime soon. It definitely has to help that Norman Reedus remains despite so many others leaving the show, as losing Daryl Dixon just might be the killing blow to finally end the show. You can check out a clip with Cudlitz from the interview below, courtesy of Skybound on YouTube.