Last night’s Season 6 Finale of The Walking Dead left fans wondering which of their beloved characters suffered a brutal death at the hands of a much anticipated (and dreaded) character,Negan, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

Viewers were mostly enthusiastic about Morgan’s portrayal of one of the most feared villains of the comic series. But, there was a considerable backlash on social media about how the episode ended with a cliffhanger, leaving audiences wondering who was killed until the show returns in October.

Walking Dead Series Knows that Death is Good Business

According to social-media analytics company Canvs reactions to the final scene of last night’s season 6 finale were most negative - more than 70% of reactions on Twitter were expressed as “hate” or “dislike.”

There was similar fallout when the character Glenn played by Steve Yeun was killed in the mid-season - only to be revealed as alive.

Certainly, the Walking Dead has built a reputation for willingness to kill key characters to raise the stakes. Yet, this doesn’t stop criticism and backlash from audiences.

Attracting controversy allows a one-hour show to sell more airtime for commercials to an estimated20 million viewers, right? So, maybe the question is not whether there will be such suspenseful cliffhangers but at what point will fans decide that they have had enough?

Taking a Few Lessons from Game of Thrones

Showrunner Scott Gimple defended the season finale saying,”We know our intentions are good. We care about our audience, and we’re just trying to deliver them an experience.”

When asked how he could relate to Game of Thrones’ showrunners, Gimple said that he “would love to sit down with those guys” and “buy them many beers...[to commiserate.”

Indeed, one of the mostcontroversial questions left hanging from last season of the HBO series, Game of Thrones was “Is Jon Snow dead?

Reveals like this are now guarded like state secrets. Actor Kit Harington who plays Jon Snow was even tortured for the answers!

Cliffhangers -New Black of Television?

Before the runaway success of these shows and its more recent predecessors like Lost or 24, there were the serial cliffhangers of television’s golden age that teased viewers to “tune in next week,” inspiring filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to create Raiders of the Lost Ark.

This technique goes as far back as the Arabic classic,One Thousand and One Nights, where the storytellerScheherazadebegin a new story each day, only to not finish it. She knew that the king would kill a new bride immediately after their wedding night. So, by captivating the king, Scheherazade was able to get the king to spare her life so he could hear the rest of her stories - night after night for 1,001 nights.

Likewise, the creators of these television series know that storytelling that holds your attention will keep theirshows alive. While Walking Dead fans complain of waiting six months to find out who was killed, one Star Wars fan joked that it's still better than waiting three years for the answer!

Let the speculation begin!

Who do you think Negan killed? Is Jon Snow really dead?

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