Fans aren't happy this morning. For months now, they've been promised that the arrival of Jeffrey Dean Morgan's /walking-dead-season-6-finale-cliffhanger-negan-victim/Negan would bring the death of one much-loved Walking Dead character. And while that certainly happened, we're still as in the dark about who this dead character is as we were when we first found out this was how The Walking Dead Season 6 finale would end sometime last year. The build up to the episode titled Last Day on Earth worked as its own contained cliffhanger. Now, as we impatiently wait through summer, this cliffhanger has become extended and expanded, and it's quite irritating. But showrunner Scott M. Gimple claims it's all for the greater good of the show. And not just some stunt.
The Walking Dead Season 6 went out swinging, literally, as Negan played a rousing game of Eenie Meenie before choosing his victim. Yes, he literally bashed in the brains of one beloved Alexandria survivor. But we only got to see the carnage from the point-of-view of this unnamed corpse. The identity of the deceased is being kept a secret until The Walking Dead Season 7, which finds Jeffrey Dean Morgan becoming a series regular. Scott M. Gimple thinks the cliffhanger was the only way to go. About it being a necessary component to the continuation of the series, he explains.
"I would say, when they opened up the hatch [on Lost], we had to wait and see who was in the hatch. I liked thinking about that. I liked talking about it. The end of the story is what people saw. And when we reveal who was on the receiving end there, that's going to be the start of another story. The kickback effects from that, what it makes everyone into, how people react, how the world changes for everyone, that's the next part of the story. We have to do an episode that justifies it to you. We have to do something so great and so intense that you're like 'Okay, all right, fair play.' That's the challenge we have and we're going to do it. We're going to deliver you something fantastic. ... We want you to be one of those people in that lineup. We want you to feel that suspense and that terror and that pain, and were going to deliver you a story next season that justifies it."
The Walking Dead comic book and series creator Robert Kirkman also feels that the cliffhanger was neccessary, no matter how fans might feel about it. He was all in for this latest season to end on a 'who is it' note. He had this to say.
"First of all, as a fan, I love cliffhangers. I love that tension. I love the anticipation of finding out what it is. If you read the comic book series, I think pretty much every issue ends with a big cliffhanger... And I think that's a lot of fun. But this story, the cliffhanger isn't the story. The story of the episode, and Scott and Matt Negrete did such a great job of setting up how confident Rick was going into this. This episode is about the loss of that confidence. It's about changing that mindset. It's about tearing Rick Grimes down and that's the conclusion of this story. So while it does seem like a cliffhanger, that's the conclusion. And the story of who died, the story of what comes next, of who Negan killed, of what comes after that, that's really the story of season 7."
All the explaining in the world won't make fans any happier. And it will surely be speculated all summer long, leading into The Walking Dead Season 7, which is still six months away. Robert Kirkman has confirmed that the one who tasted the raw end of Lucille is one of the more beloved characters on the show. So, that narrows the playing field down quite a bit. What do you think about the way the finale was handled? More importantly, who do you think isn't coming back next year? Sound off in the comments below.