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Negan's cuddly baseball bat may not have delivered the exact death blow many fans were
hoping logically assuming, but an anticlimactic season finale wasn't enough to slow down The Walking Dead's total TV domination. The end of another season of Dead's dread marks the fourth straight year the series has finished as the most popular show on TV in the only demographic that matters, according to Variety. That extremely crucial demographic, of course, includes adults between the ages of 18 and 49.
The Walking Dead's average for the season (9.1), according to Nielsen figures, places the series nicely ahead of both Sunday Night Football (7.5) and Empire (6.7). These estimates, which include three-day playback figures (i.e. DVR and VOD), are indeed a bit lower than Dead's final Season 5 viewership. However, as its position atop the throne clearly shows, the series remains simply too big to fail.
So where does The Walking Dead go from here? Does it really matter? The main argument from fans, of course, is not that the show has become entirely quality-free. Season 6 most certainly had plenty of good moments, including some fine character development from Morgan. It's the unnecessary (and occasionally story-halting) teases. It's that artful but amazingly cruel POV scene in the finale. It's, perhaps most of all, the fact that we simply hold Dead to a higher standard than lesser shows because we've seen what it can do when it stops worrying about cliffhangers and starts getting real. And that's why The Walking Dead, regardless of actual content, will likely remain the biggest show on TV for seasons to come.