The Walking Dead may be in the midst of its most dramatic storyline to date, but the ratings for Season 9 haven't reflected that. The show has slumped in the key demo of adults between 18 and 49 and has experienced series lows in the category over the past two weeks. The good news is "The Obliged" reversed that trend and gave The Walking Dead a ratings uptick for the first time in Season 9.
The Walking Dead uptick led to a 2.0 rating in adults 18-49, a full tenth of a point up from the previous weeks' series low of 1.9. It's not a monumental change, but certainly any improvement in the category is better than bringing in even lower numbers. It's also not incredibly good news, considering the shocking Season 9 numbers mean The Walking Dead still has a pretty big hole to climb out of to restore its former ratings glory.
To clarify, The Walking Dead Season 9 premiered with an 18-49 demographic rating of 2.5. That number slipped to 2.0 in Episode 2, and then down to the series low 1.9 in Episode 3. Now TVByTheNumbers has reported the number is back to what it was in Episode 2 of Season 9, and while the key demo numbers are the same, the series is in an arguably a better position now than it was then.
While Episode 2 and 4 of The Walking Dead Season 9 appear similar in the 18-49 category, they differ in viewership. Episode 2 had roughly 4.95 million viewers for its episode and Episode 4 pulled in roughly 5.01 million total viewers. It's not a huge difference on paper, but it shows that some fans who may have skipped the premiere or others may be returning and that Rick Grimes' final episode may see another uptick.
With all the fuss surrounding Rick's farewell, it wouldn't be surprising to see The Walking Dead tick up again in ratings or viewership. Fans from the past and those who tuned into Season 9 and dropped out could return and see one of television's biggest characters of the past decade say goodbye. News about how Rick will exit has not yet been revealed, although the most recent episode had many speculating the lead character is going to die.
While that means The Walking Dead may see another uptick in its Season 9 ratings, it says nothing for the rest of the show's Rick-less season. Once the spectacle is gone, it's possible ratings and viewership could fall as some of its presently existing viewership may be holding on simply for the Rick-oriented drama. Conversely, the series could see an upswing if enough folks are curious to see how the show will carry on without the face of its franchise.
Only the future holds the answer as The Walking Dead airs Season 9 on AMC Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET. For a look at what else is on television over these next couple of months, visit our fall premiere guide.