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Characters on The Walking Dead aren’t the only ones dropping like flies.
After negative fan reaction to the brutality of the season 7 premiere in October, the hit AMC show has been shedding viewers, with the fewest people tuning in to the midseason finale since season 2 back in 2012, according to Deadline.
Now a Walking Dead producer has revealed at a conference panel that the show toned down the violence in season 7 episodes still in production as a result of the backlash.
“This is not a show that is torture porn,” Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd said according to Variety, going on to stress that the team gave strong consideration to making sure The Walking Dead didn’t cross that line.
Following the airing of the season premiere, a number of viewers filed complaints with the FCC alleging that the show went too far showing villain Negan graphically bludgeon two characters to death with his barbed-wire-wrapped baseball bat. Viewers said they expect violence from a show about the zombie apocalypse, but many believed The Walking Dead had started to rely on stomach-turning gore to create drama instead of the character development that made so many people fans of the show in the first place.
But after a rough first half of season 7, things seem to be looking up for a long-suffering cast. Leader Rick Grimes has finally had enough and seems ready to fight back against Negan’s manic brutality. But will a tonal return to form a more sensitive check on the violence in the show be enough to win back viewers? We’ll find out when The Walking Dead returns on Feb. 12.
Sarah Weber is the former editor of Daily Dot’s Parsec section, where she wrote about geek culture. She previously worked as a reporter and editor at community newspapers in the Midwest and was recognized by the Ohio Associated Press for news reporting.