Despite the apparent disapproval of a group of decidedly lame parents, the gore and depression at the center of The Walking Dead's season 7 premiere was enough to tie an all-time ratings record. By the Hollywood Reporter's best estimates, an impressive 17 million people tuned in for the big reveal Sunday. That number marks a virtual tie with the season 5 record of 17.2 million back in 2014.
When compared with last season's premiere and finale numbers, The Walking Dead has increased viewership by as much as 20 percent in some demographics. Among human beings who claim ages between 25 and 54, Sunday's Negan-heavy premiere earned a "best-ever" Nielsen score of 8.7.
Talking Dead, a show in which people who are alive talk about fictional people who are decidedly dead while reclining on comfortable furniture, also boasted some huge gains at the top of season 7. Sunday's noticeably extended chat grabbed 7.6 million pairs of eyes for a 3.7 rating among viewers between the ages of 18 and 49.
Fans' residual cliffhanger frustrations aside, all this is very good news for the franchise as it enters its seventh year of domination. AMC, surprising not a single person on the planet, renewed The Walking Dead for season 8 just before Negan's bat waged war on our tolerance for sadism. "What a joy to partner with Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple, and some of the hardest-working people in television to bring The Walking Dead to the fans," Charlie Collier, an important person at AMC, said in a press release last week. "And, most important, thanks to those fans for breathing life into this remarkable series right along with us."