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The Walking Dead hits ratings low with S9 premiere, as Rick's final episodes begin

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Oct 9, 2018, 12:55 PM EDT

AMC's The Walking Dead is starting to decay like one of its titular zombies. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the post-apocalyptic zombie drama hit its lowest ratings ever with the premiere of its 9th season on Sunday. Compared to the season premiere last year, viewership dropped 50 percent, not a good sign for Andrew Lincoln's final batch of episodes as Rick Grimes before he leaves the series.

The special 90-minute episode (titled "A New Beginning") garnered a meager 6.08 million viewers, the smallest figure seen since the second half of the show's second season in 2012. For comparison, the Season 8 opener brought in just over 11 million people. 

However, there is one silver lining within the context of AMC's digital subscription service, which made the first episode of Season 9 available earlier to paying customers of said service. This advance look at the show led to, according to THR, "the best single day for new signups since the service launched in summer 2017."

Though the steep decline is certainly troubling for AMC — especially for a season premiere — it's important to remember that these numbers are still very good for a cable series. They're certainly no longer phenomenal, but The Walking Dead is still a hit. It's just not a monster hit anymore. The real question is just how much those ratings will continue to slide once Lincoln makes his exit.

Whether The Walking Dead can recover over the rest of the season, or if it will take a bullet to the brain and be put out of its undead misery, is yet to be seen.