Warning: spoilers ahead for the Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere paid off on the Season 6 cliffhanger in a big way by killing off not one but two major characters. Negan's decision to beat the stuffing out of Abraham with a baseball bat wasn't altogether shocking. An additional twist came when Negan decided that Glenn needed to die, as well. Apparently, the Negan killings were being planned on the series for a lot longer than many of use may have anticipated. Recently, showrunner Scott Gimple revealed when he decided that Glenn had to go, saying this:
It was a while. It was definitely inside two years, though there were little choose your own adventure pockets that could delay or accelerate stuff.
Scott Gimple's reveal on The Talking Dead that the big twist had been planned for a couple of seasons makes sense, all things considered. The show has taken plenty of liberties with adapting the source material for the small screen, but the death of Glenn especially is arguably the most iconic moment in the history of the Walking Dead comics. The killing of Abraham and then Glenn wasn't something that could be decided at the last minute. Besides, Glenn was one of only a handful of characters who had survived on the series since Season 1. Anyone killed by Negan deserved a well-planned sendoff.
Even Steven Yeun was on board with Glenn getting his comic death, even though it meant that he was out of a job on one of TV's biggest shows. Hopefully he had more advance notice than Emily Kinney did when Beth was being killed off. She found out shortly before filming started on her final episode. Thanks to the cliffhanger, Gimple and Co. had plenty of time to break the news of the deaths of the characters played by Yeun and Michael Cudlitz ahead of time.
Of course, the cliffhanger might have felt more impactful for viewers if Season 6 hadn't given Glenn so many near-death experiences. The Walking Dead even made it look like Glenn was totally, completely, 100% super dead after an alleyway encounter with a horde of zombies. Some of us had already said our goodbyes to the character when it seemed like he was gone for good last season.
That said, an awful lot of people tuned in to say goodbye to both major characters. A whopping 17 million viewers caught the Season 7 premiere on AMC. The numbers weren't the highest ever for an episode of The Walking Dead, but they came close. It should be interesting to see if the brutal deaths of Abraham and Glenn will have driven folks away from the show after the premiere. Fan favorite Daryl didn't get a very nice treatment either. He made the critical mistake that led to Negan's decision to murder Glenn, and he ended the episode being hauled off as a hostage to the Saviors. Hopefully Scott Gimple has been planning more than just the Negan twist ahead of time to keep viewers invested rather than depressed.
Tune in to AMC on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET to see what's next for Rick and the other survivors under Negan's control on The Walking Dead.