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We really don't need to say it at this point, but there are obviously Walking Dead spoilers in this article. If you aren't caught up, turn back now.
The Walking Dead rarely ends a season on a high note, and the Season 6 finale concluded on a record low for Rick and Co. as new bad guy Negan beat somebody to death with his baseball bat Lucille. The characters certainly got an eyeful of their comrade being killed, but viewers were not shown who Negan picked to use as an example of what happens when he is disobeyed. Fans have reacted to the cliffhanger with everything from rage to relief. According to Walking Dead comic scribe and show executive producer Robert Kirkman, the main purpose behind the ending was to give people something to discuss.
The speculation, the frustration, the possibilities, the theories…honestly, in my mind…that stuff is FUN. I honestly feel like that’s something fun for the fans to do during the break. Was it Spencer? Could it have been Morgan? What about Carol? Did Negan kill Jesus? (Note, none of them were there…I’m not giving ANYTHING away.) I know people are angry over this, but that wasn’t our intent. The idea was that after 6 seasons of a show, we wanted to stay on your mind and give you something to talk about.
Robert Kirkman’s explanation of what went into the decision to end on the big cliffhanger came from the latest issue of the Walking Dead comic. The fact that he feels frustration is part of the fun of watching the show makes sense, considering the lack of closure in the final twist of Season 6. Still, fans who are now stuck waiting months to find out who got a face full of Lucille might not all share the same enthusiasm for wondering.
In case Robert Kirkman’s argument that months of speculation and theorizing isn’t enough to convince frustrated fans that the cliffhanger was the best option, he has another spin on why ending Season 6 without revealing the big death was the right choice for The Walking Dead.
And think of it this way...a character you love and are going to miss is DEAD, and we gave you a few extra months to hope, to not grieve. Is there uncertainty? Yes. But that was kind of the idea.
Robert Kirkman does have a point about allowing fans to avoid grief for at least the length of a hiatus, but that grief could be far worse for those of us who lose our favorite character after spending months hoping for the best. Evidently, Kirkman isn’t a “rip the band-aid off” kind of person.
Personally, I’m inclined to say that the ratio of rage to relief following the Season 7 premiere will depend entirely on who died. If Glenn or Daryl or Michonne have been beaten off to that great suburban safe haven in the sky, fans might not appreciate being strung along for a whole summer. If the big death is somebody far newer and relatively minor a la Eugene or Rosita, fans might have an easier time dealing come October.
You can read the rest of Robert Kirkman’s letter about the Season 6 finale here. To fuel your own speculation, take a look at our breakdown of who is most likely to be the big death. Check out our summer TV premiere schedule to see what you can watch while you wait for Season 7.