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Last year, TV Guide ranked the 100 greatest shows on TV at the time and left The Walking Dead off it completely. Our thinking was that even though it had remained immensely popular, it hadn't stayed vital. "As much as we love the show (we'll watch it to the end), it hasn't truly evolved in the eight seasons it's been on the air," my colleague Tim Surette wrote at the time. "Staying relevant in today's world means adapting and evolving, not merely surviving."
This was written after two interminable, joyless seasons of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) powering up at each other, Dragon Ball Z-style. The dialogue consisted almost entirely of speeches about "we have to kill to survive." All but the most diehard fans (of which there were still a lot!) had had enough and jumped ship. And a lot of diehards spent most of their time complaining about showrunner Scott Gimple on Reddit. Even for misery porn, it was no fun. It felt like it was running out of life, as most shows that last longer than a season do.
Story - September - Decision - AMC - Account
When we tweeted the story in September explaining our decision, AMC's official account replied, "You'll regret that after this new season," which was then a few weeks out from premiering. And while we don't regret not putting The Walking Dead on the list last year, we probably wouldn't leave it off this year. We may even put it somewhere in the top three quarters. Because Season 9 has reinvigorated the show. It did the things we had previously knocked it for not doing; in fact, there were even episodes titled "Evolution" and "Adaptation." Improbably, The Walking Dead is the best it's been since 2015.
I say "improbably" because the show faced a junkyard-sized heap of a problem...
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