Spoilers ahead for Episode 15 of The Walking Dead Season 9, called "The Calm Before."
The stakes have never been higher on The Walking Dead since Alpha and The Whisperers made their deadly move on the good guys, but that's not the case with the ratings. The numbers have been dropping all throughout the ninth season, and the latest episode got the lowest ratings in the show's history despite its game-changing plot twists. Here's how the fair episode fared in the ratings.
In Live+Same day calculations, The Walking Dead's penultimate episode of Season 9 scored only a 1.5 rating in the key 18-49 age demographic, with only 4.1 million people tuning in. Those numbers were enough to keep it on top of the competition in cable TV on Sunday, March 24, with the three highest-rated broadcasts behind the zombie apocalypse series all being NCAA basketball games. That said, they still make "The Calm Before" the lowest-rated episode in The Walking Dead history.
The 1.5 rating in the 18-49 demo represents a drop of 0.2 from the already-disappointing 1.7 rating of the previous week, according to TV By The Numbers. As for viewership, the 4.1 million audience is a drop from 4.5 million last week. Ever show does experience its highs and lows, and it's possible that the March Madness games (or basketball movies) drew away some Walking Dead viewers.
Still, this was not an episode that should have hit record lows, if The Walking Dead was still as much of a smash hit as it was in earlier seasons. Even though the show certainly didn't spoil all the huge deaths that would happen in the episode, "The Calm Before" had a lot going for it.
Not only was it the penultimate episode of the season; it was also a special super-sized episode that would run for 25 minutes longer than the usual Walking Dead broadcast. "The Calm Before" was also slated to finally show the big fair that has been teased for quite a while. In days gone by, such an event might have scored The Walking Dead record high ratings rather than record lows; is this a sign that the season finale will be the lowest-rated in show history?
It's difficult to say. Honestly, some of the fans who did try to watch "The Calm Before" live may be so frustrated with the penultimate episode that they don't want to watch the finale live. Whether that's because their favorites died, their least favorites didn't die, or the ending was cut off by DVR, The Walking Dead may not fare well in the post-fair installment.
Then again, if word spreads that The Walking Dead did make a bold move in "The Calm Before" and killed off some big characters rather than just copping out, maybe folks will tune back in for the big finale. The show is returning for Season 10, which promises to be a big one for a certain character whose actor is departing at some point that season.
We'll have to wait and see. Find out how the survivors will deal with the aftermath of all the death courtesy of Alpha and The Whisperers when the Season 9 finale -- fittingly called "The Storm" -- hits the airwaves on Sunday, April 31 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. Considering how long the Walking Dead franchise seems destined to run on AMC, the zombies may rot and die off! The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman has said that it's possible.