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Robert Kirkman Issues Halfhearted Apology for Season 6 Finale: “We Weren’t Trying to Game the Audience…”

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you’re well aware of the backlash The Walking Dead creators and AMC have faced since that fateful night on Sunday, April 3rd, 2016; the fervid cries of unrest could be heard coming from the living rooms of millions of TWD fanboys and girls as TV screens faded to black, leaving us with the cliffhanger from hell for the next six months.

In what many fans have considered a ratings and revenue ploy by AMC, The Walking Dead‘s creative team has been furiously backing the decision to leave Season 6 on a cliffhanger, describing it as a logical conclusion to Rick’s “over confidence” arc – as if watching a beloved member of Rick’s group get bludgeoned to death wouldn’t have served the exact same purpose. Show runner Scott Gimple has even gone as far as saying that they weren’t trying to “fuck with fans.”

But now creator Robert Kirkman is stepping up to the plate, attempting to take a swing at getting fans back on the side of The Walking Dead. In the most recent issue of The Walking Dead comic book series, Kirkman took to the Letter Hacks section to explain his side of the story, and, well, he offered up a typical Kirkman response. Check out what Kirkman had to say:

Okay, the season 6 finale has certainly caused a fervor online. EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT IT. Some people love it. Some people are indifferent. Some people HATE it. We weren’t trying to game the audience, we weren’t trying to FORCE you to come back for season 7…. we hope you were always planning on doing that and still plan on doing that.

We did want you talk. And talk you are.

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 the show, we wanted to stay on your mind and give you somethin to talk about.

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.

But seriously. Everyone on TWD team wanted to do something cool. We wanted to do something different and we did it to change things up, get people excited and keep this show on your mind.

For some of you, that effort backfired and you’re angry. And for that I’m sorry. The only thing I can PROMISE you is that the season 7 premiere is going to be awesome. And when viewed as a two-part episode (the same way EVERY SEASON of Star Trek: The Next Generation ended with the first half of a two-part episode that was a cliffhanger…), it’s going to be a pretty awesome ride. And every minute of the season 6 finale was important and was setting something up that you probably won’t see coming.

It’s a cool episode… and remember… there’s a LOT more for Negan to do. Be afraid… be very afraid. And excited!

So, there you have it. Everyone at The Walking Dead just wanted to “do something cool” and not “game you.” And the episode was “cool,” so you shouldn’t really care, apparently.

Regardless, filming for Season 7 has begun, mostly behind closed doors for now, but rabid fans are already on the hunt for any hint to who died. We will be reporting all the latest The Walking Dead spoilers as soon as they become available.

Until then, sound off with your thoughts regarding Kirkman’s apology in the comments section below. Will fans accept the apology? You be the judge.

Sebastian Compagnucci

Sebastian Compagnucci

Sebastian is the lead host of The Walking Dead Enthusiasts Podcast. In his spare time, you can find him watching trashy reality television like Survivor and Big Brother.
Sebastian Compagnucci
  • Lynn Tackitt

    Too late! I have stopped with any merchandising purchases, books, the TV series sets or even watching it. I loved the show but I do not feel like being a pawn in the merchandising/mess with fans to see how stupid they are to keep following every thing they do, machine. It kind of ticks me off because I haven’t missed an episode since day one of the series but I am not mindless cattle to go along with it.

    • Baza50

      You are behaving like kids, who have just seen their presents dear the tree and have been told, you can’t open them until Christmas Day!!

      It,s a to show and a damn fine one at that. The creators have built a great story line with genuine suspense, concern for the characters and a reason to want to want to know what happens next. If the finale was a damp squib, you would all be complaining….

      Perhaps you should all just watch The Bold and The Beautiful!

  • House of crazies

    I’m still pissed, they talk about game of thrown at least we knew that Jon snow died, shit with kirkman you know what would fix this problem, put who got killed on the dvd I’ve seen other fans mention this obviously other people think it would be a good idea.

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  • Carina

    everyone is still going to come back Oct 9 to see the season premiere if not they’ll see the 2nd episode because they’re going to hear how great the premiere!

    • Bryce

      Wrong! I WILL NOT watch the premiere or season 7 at all. I’m done. The last episode was so boring. The cast & crew was saying how awesome the final was going to be. Wrong! No, I will just read about how Glenn got his head bashed in on the Internet.

      • DrWilmaBabyliv

        I’m at the same point. They’ve been treating their audience like chumps. Some of us have just given up on it.

    • Christopher Greer

      I use to like this show…now….not so much…

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  • Anna

    What a joke. The walking dead fans are among some of the most loyal fans, and are going to continue to talk about the show during the off season no matter what because we are so invested. Now instead of talking about what’s going to happen next, it’s all about who Negan killed. I feel that it was cheap. The entrance to Negan was cliffhanger enough. I also felt it downplayed Negan’s performance (Jeffrey Dean Morgan was so delightfully villainous and intriguing). With two “fake” deaths already this season, I am among those that agree they seem to be screwing with us.

    Robert Kirkman: We’re going to talk about the show no matter what. You don’t have to do fake deaths and cheap endings to keep us chatting. If you continue on that road, people are going to continue to be more and more frustrated (and not in a good way…) instead of excited, and eventually are going to stop talking. And a few sidenotes… 1) I think I speak for the vast majority when I say I wanted to grieve. 2) You didn’t do something different or change things up. You DID two character death speculations already in season 6. And 3) Again, I think I speak for most fans when I say, the show was going to be on my mind without all this nonsense.

  • Nicholas Johns

    i agree,cheap shot to the fans,as everyone says,the death would have been talked about also.i will no longer buy merchandise either.my son and myself have been watching together for many seasons,he comes in to talk about it now,i just go ok,they screwed us again.
    BOTTOM LINE,YOU SCREWED UP AGAIN…ONE LAST CHANCE
    by the way fear the walking dead season two first half has SUCKED.we are about finished with it also

  • Scott Keith

    “we hope you were always planning on doing that and still plan on doing that.”

    I had planned to keep watching, but not after that finale. Too many other options of shows to watch and I only have so much time. So TWD is off my list now.

    • Trecia Dey

      I completely agree with you. I was a die hard fan but I’m done. It takes a truly sadistic mind to even create such a seen.
      I don’t even watch any of the repeat as I have prior to waiting for the next season to return.

      Peace

  • DrWilmaBabyliv

    btw…”irregardless” is not a word. Simply use “regardless.”

  • guest

    I don’t understand at all what People are so angry about. Seriously. I’m a huge fan of the series since the very beginning and I loved that adrenalin-charged cliffhanger! I honestly taught it was genius…and am still wrapping my brain trying to figure that one out! It IS entertainement.

  • Jen6677

    The season finale showed that the writers do not respect fans at all. They teased us all season about a major character death, then gave us that stupid cliffhanger. I’m not watching the show ever again. I’ll just read about who gets killed online. The writer need to watch Game of Thrones for tips on how to create really a really satisfying season finale.

  • thatgirl

    The problem is that many of us simply aren’t going to gaf about who dies in the premiere. We’ve run through all the scenarios and, in essence, have mourned each of the possibilities already. So whatever, Kirkman. (Also, while irregardless is technically a word, it’s not a word any writer should ever use. Just saying.)

  • Kristin Innocenzi Burrows

    Get a life people!! It’s a tv show! So rediculous! Stop crying like little babies who had their pacifiers taken away! It’s an awesome show! If you’re gonna stop watching bc they left it off with a cliffhanger then that’s on you but enough with the tantrums already

  • Writerman

    Robert,

    No rudeness intended, but you and others associated with the series would do well to stop dancing. To a degree, it’s understandable why you would go into such bustling a form of damage control. You committed the cardinal sin of storytelling: you insulted a loyal audience, many members of whom watched the series since its premiere episode. There are, however, only so many insults people will endure before extricating themselves from a “relationship” that turns out to be going nowhere. Think of it likes this: You (Kirkman) and your significant other (the audience) are in an RV that seems to be going nowhere. Obstacle after obvious obstacle keeps getting thrown in your way; you make a number of increasingly annoying mistakes; as a result, you make a number of increasingly annoying U-turns; and your destination — wouldn’t you know it? — turns out to be a ludicrous dead-end that anyone with a rudimentary sense of intelligence could see even before you climbed behind the wheel and twisted the key in the ignition.

    You see, when people begin relationships, they hope for the best. For a time, things go well — sometimes wonderfully so. But then it sometimes happens that the relationship either goes nowhere or begins to plummet south. Sometimes people continue to be a part of that relationship, hoping that things will smooth out. But suppose the smoothing-out never comes? What if people realize they are being jerked around and treated as if they possess little to no intelligence? Some people decide to stay in such a relationship; they make up rationalizations, or perhaps they are masochists — who knows why? Others, however, are able to see a bad thing for what it is, and instead of sticking around to be treated like an emotional punching bag, they decide to take control, end the relationship, and move on to others that are better — and, they hope, more honest. Such people do not need to be hit over the head with a bat to come to such a conclusion. (Pun intended? You know, I’m going leave you “hanging” with that one. Wink-wink.)

    When The Walking Dead began (first two seasons), it was on track to become a classic. We watched well-developed characters respond to the brutal world they had come to inhabit. We observed as they grew smarter, more pragmatic, and even ruthless. Their growth was organic rather than mere manipulation of plot. Because of this, we were able to feel compassion for them. (Note: For any story to work, an audience must be able to feel compassion for the characters.) We cared about what happened to them. It was this that kept us watching the series. (Note: The zombie apocalypse is the series’ catalyst; the characters are its substance. I say this not out of arrogance. After all, it’s something you know, right? The problem is, given the past few seasons, it seems plausible that it may be something to which you are oblivious. Or if not oblivious, then perhaps it’s something about which you do not care. If that’s the case, the series is in even more dire trouble than some have already surmised.)

    Now, the S6 finale upset many people. The primary reasons appear to be: 1) The cliffhanger; 2) The utter dullness of it (it was like watching an RV commercial interspersed with yet more commercials); and 3) The fact that characters as intelligent as Rick and his group would make such stultifyingly stupid choices that would lead them right into the trap that had been hatched for them. (By the way, how did the Saviors know which routes Rick and his group would take? How did they know when Rick and his group would take it, i.e., the whole Maggie-in-distress malarkey? How did they manage to set up so many blockades in so short a time? These are probably questions neither you nor the writers thought of when creating the episode. Which is too bad. There’s nothing worse than shoddy plots with holes so large you drive a… well… an RV through them. Or perhaps you and the writers didn’t consider giving your audience the benefit of the doubt that they possess intelligence.)

    As it was, the cliffhanger didn’t upset me so much. The degree to which the writing has devolved all but demanded it would happen. You and others made it clear you didn’t care about respecting your audience’s intelligence. You’d already ended the previous two episodes with cliffhangers… so why not another, right? (Note: Storytelling employs cliffhangers — that’s no great disclosure. However, the best storytelling utilizes cliffhangers frugally. Otherwise, the storytelling does nothing more than destroy the very suspense it is so blatantly trying to generate.)

    Here’s the deal, Robert: I once loved the series. I admired it for its astute characterization and development of same. These were characters in whom I could believe, with wonderful actors to bring them to life. That’s why I and so many others never missed an episode, and why we looked forward to October and the start of a new season.

    Anymore, however? No thank you. It’s painful to watch characters reduced to game pieces being shifted about a board. Even more to the point: It’s insulting to watch characters with whom I’ve spent six years being forced to betray their natures and principles merely to serve to machinations of an increasingly convoluted plot. In addition, the writing has grown incompetent. Having characters stop in the thick of tension and danger (i.e., Denise and the Wolf surrounded by a Walker herd; Rick and Morgan hot on the trail of an ostensibly wounded Carol) to have discussions designed to tie up exposition that better writing would have resolved long before is the equivalent of spitting in your audience’s face. (I know. That sounds harsh. So be it. You’ve earned it.)

    And that’s what has turned me off the series. Not the cliffhanger, which was all but telegraphed; but the manner in which the characters (and, by extension, the audience) have been treated. It is genuinely sad. The Walking Dead was once in the running to become a classic. Now it’s fast on its way to becoming inconsequential.

    One last thing: When the finale wasn’t even an hour old, you and Scott Gimple appeared on Talking Dead. You behaved like defensive juveniles who had been called into the principal’s office. Scott had the audacity to tell us, the audience, that we had missed the entire point of S6; that it wasn’t about whom Neegan would kill, but rather was about Rick not being as in control as he thought he was. You might have shared that with PR, considering the ads teased Neegan, “Lucille,” and the “Who will survive?” angle ad nauseam. Doubtless this was why so many viewers were incensed with the (non)conclusion of S6’s finale.

    One other thing: Someone should tell Scott that, when a showrunner feels he needs to explain the point of a season after the fact, it is a sure sign he has failed to do his job. The season itself tells an audience what it’s about. It does this by offering good writing, good characters, and good direction.

  • John Hagan

    I was going to use deductive reasoning and my keen powers of observation to figure out who was killed. Unfortunately, I read this article and saw that the writer actually used the word “irregardless”…and my brain exploded.

  • Chippy

    I record everything on my hopper and TWD used to be the first thing I watched. Now, it might be Tuesday or Wednesday before I get to it. Scary when I’d rather watch a Real Housewives episode than TWD. It used to be my favorite. And now, with all the constant violence and zero storyline advancement, I’m bored out of my mind. And FFS, these people have decent homes. Why can’t they ever change clothes and shower?

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  • AaPenny Lali

    Irregardless? NOOOOOOOOOOOT a word.