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As one of television's most talked-about dramas, The Walking Dead has become a predictable cherry atop the sundae that is scripted Sunday night TV. But this past weekend, everything changed for the first time in nearly three years, as AMC's zombie hit fell to the #2 slot in the ratings, with the CBS spinoff NCIS: Los Angeles taking the coveted top slot. And what is the cause for this surprising change-up? Donald Trump, of course.
Okay, so it's not directly because of Donald Trump himself, but rather his appearance on CBS' 60 Minutes, which was his first meaty interview given in the days after last week's much-discussed election. The episode brought in right around 20 million viewers, with a 3.4 rating in the key 18-49 adult demographic, and there was enough of a lead-in audience for NCIS: Los Angeles to net 12.11 million people for its Live+Same Day viewership totals, according to Deadline. Meanwhile, The Walking Dead came in at 11.51 million, which was close, but no cigar. (R.I.P. Big Ginger.)
This marks the first time that The Walking Dead didn't win out over all other scripted Sunday shows since March 9, 2014, for the episode "Alone," which featured Beth's kidnapping, but not much else of major note. Since then, all manner of huge events have happened, especially this season, so it's understandable why The Walking Dead reigned supreme for as long as it did. But not even an episode chock-full of comic moments and excellent reveals could top the lingering effects of Donald Trump's 60 Minutes interview.
It's not like NCIS: Los Angeles has been shambling along and struggling in the ratings department, but this was the drama's best numbers since it left CBS' Tuesday night schedule, when the ratings were generally in the 13-15 million range. It's definitely doing better on Sunday nights in Season 8 than its past two years of Monday nights, though, even with The Walking Dead as its competition. SO this might not be the only time this ranking happens this year.
It was expected that The Walking Dead wouldn't again reach the monstrous 17 million people that tuned in for the deadly premiere, but everyone at AMC has to hope there's an uptick soon. Perhaps another big death will do it, or perhaps Daryl wearing something that isn't made of burlap's malnourished cousin.
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC, while NCIS: Los Angeles airs on CBS. Will things flip back to normal next week, or are The Walking Dead's slowly drooping ratings going to just get worse? We shall polish our baseball bats while we wait for an answer.