"The Walking Dead" has mostly been a ratings bonanza for AMC since the series first aired. The series brought along a strong group of followers who read and enjoyed the comic, and then it picked up steam thanks to the fact that there wasn't a show exactly like it anywhere on broadcast television. While the show's ratings have ebbed and flowed over the last few years, it hit a new high during this season's premiere. That premiere finally divulged who Negan had beaten to death, and even gave fans who knew the characters a big shock when it killed off a favorite in Glenn.

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The downward spiral

Since that season premiere, "The Walking Dead" has been struggling to draw in viewers. USA Today reports more than 21 million viewers tuned in to see who Lucille claimed. Over the six weeks since, AMC has seen the zombie-centric series lose more than five million of those viewers.

While other shows are seeing steep drop-offs in their ratings as well, AMC needs "The Walking Dead" to perform well. Other networks have other shows they can lean on to salvage this kind of issue. AMC has only a few shows, and the spin-off "Fear the Walking Dead" has been met with critical and viewer apathy almost from the very beginning.

Why its suffering

While the show is far from dead, there are some things that could spell its doom in short order. While Jeffrey Dean Morgan has played the Negan character well, the personality is still one that gets tiresome after a while. Being mean just to be mean is fun to watch for short periods, but it's clear people are already ready to see the uprising and the eventual fall of this season's big bad.

There is also a distinct lack of direction in the AMC program, highlighted by the several branching storylines that are usually left for weeks at a time.

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With so many storylines in the air, episodes like a recent side jaunt with Tara seem exceptionally boring, pointless, and crafted only to drag the season out. That episode is likely the least favorite, not just of this season, but of the series as a whole.

Whatever the reason for why "The Walking Dead" is seeing declining ratings, one thing is sure: if something doesn't change, the show about the undead could be dead sooner than expected.