Why Glenn Didn't Cost The Walking Dead Any Credibility, According To The Showrunner

One of the most talked-about shows on television nowadays is undoubtedly The Walking Dead. AMC’s phenomenally popular show about the zombie apocalypse has a following of incredibly loyal and often vocal fans. As it happens, however, The Walking Dead is also one of the shows most frequently written about by journalists, and some considered the recent shenanigans regarding the did-he-didn’t-he survival of fan favorite Glenn to have cost the series its credibility. Showrunner Scott Gimple feels differently and spoke out about the Glenn shenanigans in a recent interview:

There's a lot of very specific facts about it that I think a lot of people have sort-of gotten wrong. But breaking it down shot for shot… I think we're past that point. I don't think this is any sort of new instance that broke the rules of our show at all. I think it's very much in line with everything we've done before. I don't think there's a credibility issue. It seems like there's this growing sort of divide between the people who watch the show and the people who write about the show. There's not a wrong way to watch it; nobody is doing anything wrong. I'm getting a lot of different messages that are diametrically opposed.

It’s good to see that Gimple is sticking to his guns while speaking to THR about defending the way that The Walking Dead handled the ambiguity of Glenn’s survival after his recent fall into a horde of zombies in a one-way alley. There’s never going to be a plot twist that makes everybody everywhere happy, and catering to the demands of fans or journalists in the production of a series has the potential to rather epically backfire. In fact, Gimple has some examples to back up his defense:

We've had instances of people in a very emotional state - Tyreese jumping into a large herd and fighting his way out; a man cut off his own hand and fights his way through a department store full of walkers. These things are part of the world. Glenn had the bad luck of being knocked off that dumpster by Nicholas, ending his own life but [Glenn} had the good luck of Nicholas landing on him.

Gimple’s definitely not wrong that there have been past instances when characters have been seemingly stuck in situations from which they couldn’t have possibly survived, thanks in part to their emotional states at the time of crisis. The differences between that and Tyreese being swarmed by a herd of zombies or Merle chopping off his own hand are big. The audience had not had five and a half years of Tyreese or Merle to fuel their need for answers, and Merle chopping his hand off wasn't overwhelmingly indicative of his death, but merely his escape.

Gimple may not think that his show lost any credibility with the handling of the Glenn situation of Season 6, but he’ll be lucky if the viewers forget the drawn-out cliffhanger anytime soon. It was a stressful couple of weeks not knowing whether or not Glenn was gone for good, and we should at least count ourselves lucky that we got an answer before the midseason finale.

The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. Season 6 will return on February 14, 2016.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).