In the Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead, fans were finally introduced to the iconic villain Negan, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who killed one member of Rick's group, although we didn't find out who it was until the Season 7 premiere. It was revealed in that episode that Negan actually killed two members of Rick's crew, Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun). That episode also brought the series up to the 100th issue in the comics, and while there is essentially no way that the show can catch up with the comics, it will reach another milestone in the next few years.
The show's midseason finale, Hearts Still Beating, which featured the brutal death of Spencer Monroe (Austin Nichols), brought the show up to the 111th comic book issue, with several aspects of Spencer's death ripped straight from the comics. ComicBook.com reports that the show covers approximately 20 issues of the comics, on average, through each 16-episode season, and with the 161st issue recently published, Robert Kirkman recently addressed the pacing of the shows and the comic books in a letter to readers, included with the 161st comic book issue.
"It took us 6 seasons to get to 100. It won't take us 6 years to get to 200 and that will take us to season ... TWELVE. And we'll still be ahead of the show at that point."
What's interesting is Robert Kirkman claims it won't take the show six years to get to the comic's 200th issue, but he then states that it will go to Season 12, which is presumably six years away, and the same pace as the show took to get to Issue 100. The show will take presumably another three seasons to reach issue 160, and most likely another three seasons to reach issue 200. Of course, this is all dependent on AMC renewing The Walking Dead for four more seasons, but, given the immense popularity of the show, it seems likely that the show will last that long.
Despite the show's immense popularity, The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere was also quite controversial and lead to a number of complaints from viewers who thought the episode was far too violent. A report surfaced earlier this month that over a dozen people filed complaints with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) due to the violent nature of Glenn and Abraham's deaths, by Negan's infamous barbed wire bat dubbed Lucille. Despite the complaints, the show still pulled in plenty of viewers.
The controversy didn't affect the show's ratings at all, with over 17 million tuning into the premiere episode, with a whopping 8.4 ratings and 10.7 million viewers in the all-important 18-49 demographic. The episode was easily the highest-rated program among broadcast and cable shows alike. The 17 million viewers for the The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere is up 16% from the 14.6 million viewers who tuned in for the Season 6 premiere last year. It was also up 20% in total viewers and 22% in the 18-49 demo from last year's Season 6 finale, but it fell just short of the show's all-time record of 17.3 million viewers, 11 million in 18-49 and 8.7 rating, set by the Season 5 premiere. The Walking Dead will continue the back half of Season 7 with the midseason premiere slated to air on Sunday, February 12 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.